There is a cabinet of lovely old lace fragments at my local museum, which always serves to remind me that it is good to tackle a more complicated craft project every now and then, and that it is amazing what craftsmen and women could make with their hands before machinery started to do it for us.
These pieces of handmade lace are so delicate and intricate, and must have taken an immense amount of time to complete: they certainly show the benefits of patience and dedication.
I made this little silk purse as a present, and it was a great small project to experiment with embroidering with silk threads on to silk cloth. The silk threads have a lovely lustre, making the colours glow, and thread slides so easily through the fabric. The finished piece is relatively delicate (I think that the pale silk fabric would mark quite easily), but was made as a decorative piece for someone who would appreciate the techniques and materials used.
I always seem to forget quite how time consuming embroidery is (if you want it to look neat and tidy!), but I enjoy the process as well as the finished piece. This was just a simple design, but I didn’t plan it out before I started sewing which made it slightly more complicated to complete than necessary!
I have seen some beautiful (and often very intricate) antique and vintage embroidered purses, an I can certainly appreciate the time and skill required to produce them- and am inspired to try to achieve that level of detail and neatness one day!
Some more lovely vintage and antique embroideries, this time in neutral white and creams. I featured coloured embroideries a few weeks ago, but felt that these understated lovelies deserved their own post! Some are destined to be sold as they are, and some will be upcycled.
I recently went through the various vintage and antique hand-embroidered fabrics that I have, in the hunt for some material to make bunting for a friend’s wedding. Due to the hours of work that these pieces represent, I am loathe to cut them up, with the exception of any items that are damaged or spoilt by a permanent stain (I remove and bin the damaged area, and use the rest of the material in craft projects).
Depending on the size of the material, the embroidered fabrics can be used in a variety of projects: I really enjoy giving new life to something that someone else has put so much time and effort into, but is now ‘ruined’ for it’s original purpose (e.g. a tablecloth with a stain in the centre).
Using some fabrics that I already have (in this case by upcycling) also means that I am still managing to stick to my new year’s resolution to buy no new craft materials this year!
The few pieces that I have shown here are all undamaged items, and as I seem to have collected quite a few pieces in good condition, I have decided to sell a selection- after all, there are only so many tablecloths etc that one person can use!
Some colourful vintage sewing bits and pieces on this sunny bank holiday weekend…
…I dyed the lengths of vintage handmade lace myself (see previous post here).
The sunshine is definitely inspiring the use of bright colours, so I have spent the afternoon in the garden making a brightly coloured tassel garland- photographs to follow soon!
After accidentally slightly shrinking some wool socks in the wash, I thought I’d give them a new life as a pair of fingerless mittens.
This easy upcycling project would also work using the sleeves from a wool jumper.
All you need is a pair of wool socks (or a pair of jumper sleeves), a needle and thread, and a pair of scissors.
First cut your socks to the desired size- you will be using the leg section, not the foot section.
I thought I’d take advantage of the length of these socks, and make cosy mittens with a long wrist/arm section- they can be worn long, or bunched up at the wrist. The original cuff of the socks will form the cuff of the mittens.
Next, using your hand as a template, cut a small horizontal slit where you would like the thumb hole to be.
Now try the mitten on, and enlarge the thumb slit if necessary. Decide how long you want the hand section to be and trim accordingly, allowing approximately 1cm extra to turn under for the hem. Take the mitten off, and sew the turned-under hem in place.
At this stage you could just hem the thumb hole using a blanket stitch, but I chose to add a thumb section using a piece cut from the foot of the socks. I sewed a small tube that comfortably fit my thumb, and then attached the tube to the mitten.
Now the mittens are ready to be worn… probably ensuring the swift arrival of warm spring weather!
Mmm, lovely colours!
The two reels of lace trim (blue and pink) are lengths of handmade vintage trim that I dyed myself; see this post for details of how to make your own!