Sunday, 19 May 2013
I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I happened upon a massive collection of 60s, 70s, 80s (and one 30s) craft books in my local bric-a-brac market yesterday. All from a school library in East Dulwich in south east London – and at £1 a pop, I bought as many as I could carry.
Sadly, for reasons of shelf space, I had to leave behind titles on macramé, plaiting, braiding, soft toy making and other skillz just a little out of the scope of my interests, but this little lot will keep me going for a while. Watch this space for some of the highlights.
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
|'Gay flowers on a trellis-work background' (detail)|
I was delighted when my colleague and neighbour* gave me this copy of Stitchcraft magazine, published in September 1934. It's hard to believe it's nearly 80 years old, especially as the iron-on embroidery transfer is still folded up inside, in pristine condition.
Several colourways are suggested for the Gay flowers design, but I'm ever so taken with these bright blooms on black linen, reminiscent of a design by Celia Birtwell.
The Stitchcraft people propose making your finished piece of embroidery into a cushion and runner set, a dressing table set or even a Radio Times or telephone directory cover (it says you need to make two phone book covers if you live in the London area – back in 1934 was there one directory for north London and another for south, or perhaps one for inner and one for outer London?)
|Iron-on transfer, free with Stitchcraft, September 1934|
The clever thing about the design of the transfer is that you can use sections, separated along the lines of the trellis, depending on the size of your project. I adore the flower with the sunray (/eyelashes) in its centre.
|The 80-year-old transfer (detail)|
I'm desperate to put this truly vintage transfer to use soon, but it seems such a shame not to keep it. Think I'd better trace it instead!
Friday, 12 April 2013
|Micro mini and hooded caftans c1970. Far out!|
Just a quick one today, to say I'm posting a vintage sewing pattern a day over on Twitter, so if you fancy a daily dose of mod girl dresses, 60s maternity separates, micro-mini caftans, capes, and lots of culottes, follow me (@GYCMI via the link on the right)
Friday, 29 March 2013
|All that's missing is a bike chained to the railings|
I love the way blackwork, the monochrome counted-thread technique that was all the rage way back in fifteen-hundred-and-something, can look so modern, like a pen and ink illustration – and the patchwork effect of areas of different black and white geometric patterns side by side.
In Creative Needlecraft (Sundial Books 1979), author Lynette de Demme had the brilliant idea of depicting one house in blackwork (above) and in three other stitching techniques:
|Colour embroidery, blackwork and a bit of applique|
To me, no73 looks just like some of the grand Victorian houses around Highgate, north London...
|Gritty realism in applique|
I'd love to see these lined up together as if they were neighbouring houses on the same street.
|Close up on the drawn fabric work version|
How nice the way the qualities of each technique emphasise different features of the building – the drainpipe, the balcony, the tiled front steps and three square decorative panels towards the top of the house.
If you'd like to sew your own house in black and white, you'll find a basic guide to blackwork here, and part 2 here.
Monday, 11 February 2013
|Impress the one you love with a dangly decoration|
If you're of a romantic, as well as creative, persuasion, there's still time to make this fancy 3D heart, or pop-up secret-message card for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day...
|Lift the flaps to read secret love messages|
A few weeks ago, I spotted an entire set of Children's Britannica encyclopaedias, dated 1973, in a charity shop, and after I snapped up 10 of the most colourful volumes to use in another project* the lady behind the till put them in one of those large paper bags with string handles. It was snowing outside, which, I soon realised, meant I couldn't put the bag down the whole two miles home without it getting soggy. Boy did my arms ache when I staggered through my front door. But then, in the back of Volume 13 (Pacific Islands to Pond Life), I found this delightful papercrafting section which I hadn't even noticed in the shop:
|Oh Sheila, you do spoil us|
In this unencyclopaedic-looking 24-page supplement (first printed 1967), Sheila Perry** explains how to make a three-dimensional decoration for every occasion – she does a mean illustration and has some really lovely ideas.
Better still, I discovered that she contributed another section – Scissors and Paper – to Volume 15 (Rice to Sedge). Expect funny people, paper puppets and stand-up animals coming to you soon.
So if you think your crush or squeeze deserves a handcrafted Valentine's message, click to find out how to make these original Valentine's cards, here.
* watch this space ;-)
** I've tried Googling her to no avail
Sunday, 3 February 2013
|Published by Collins/Conde Nast (1972)|
The first – the Vogue Guide to Knitting, I picked up in Oxfam in Tooting (a nice area of south London I venture to rarely and which makes me think of Citizen Smith and 'Power to the people'. I was in that neck of the woods getting some advice at the amazing Wimbledon Sewing Machine Centre, which, incidently, is attached to one of my favourite museums, the weird and very wonderful London Sewing Machine Museum).
I clocked the 'Tiny bikinis' referred to on the cover, and then the 'Exciting designs' – for example a terrific smock (with rolled-up jeans, thick socks and sandals), and a fair isle sweater and matching beret worn by a rather stern child:
|The shape of things to come|
Click here for a (as always free) PDF of the pattern for her lovely floral pullover.
|Published by Marshall Cavendish (1982)|
The second book, Aran and Fair Isle Knitting, I received as a gift from someone who knows me only too well. 'Tis a technicolour treasure trove of Scottish knitwear, such as this lovely jumper:
|Getting it in the neck|
Friday, 18 January 2013
|All together now – awwww|
I was in a junk shop flicking through St Michael Handicraft Gifts (1978), my expectations way down low thanks to its soft-focus satin lavender bag and pot pourri cover, when my eyes fell upon this sleepy corduroy dog. I did a double take and then all but cried at how sweet he is. I know I must be getting sentimental in my old age, but come on LOOK AT HIM, he's even got a heart-shaped nose.
What more is there to say really, except I bet you want to find out how to make him, and have a look at the shape of that nose, so here's the pattern and the instructions. Night night then.