Saturday, 18 October 2014

Season of the witch

halloween mobile
Witching hour

Pumpkins are appearing in windows and on doorsteps and fancy-dress shops are stockpiling skeleton, black cat and devil outfits, as well as more outré costumes... the season of the witch must be upon us again.

Back in in 1973, Halloween was still thought of as an 'American thing' and traditions like pumpkin carving, apple bobbing and dressing up in scary costumes to go trick or treating were only just starting to drift across to British shores, which makes the fact that The Complete Book of Handicrafts (1973) featured this cute witchy mobile quite ahead of its time.

From the days when 'a mobile' was something altogether different, if you fancy making a spooky decoration to hang in your home – perhaps on the front door to show you're trick or treat-friendly, fish out a packet of pipe cleaners, click here for your free templates and instructions and find out how to DIY.


Friday, 8 August 2014

Meet the smockers

smocks and smocking
One of my favourite book titles

Following hot on the heels of last weekend's Margate Soul Weekend, Broadstairs Folk Week is now upon us and, in honour of the anticipated morris dancer invasion, I've dug out my smock book to bring you some pics of some men (women and children) modelling the very finest in rustic separates. You're welcome!

smock guy
Portobello Market?

smock guy
Stone-age man

smock guy
Get off my land

sally tuffin smock
Sally Tuffin-designed jumbo cord smock

From Smocks and Smocking (WI Books Ltd, 1980)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Drawing rooms

What the Collins Encyclopedia of Home Sewing lacks in projects worthy of sharing, it makes up for with the illustrations at the start of each chapter…


sewing room
Sewing room


home sewing cover
The cover in all its glory

I found this book in a charity shop in Margate Old Town that had a whole room dedicated to haberdashery and 1960s/70s nylon underwear!

Edited by Jean Kinmond, 1976. The wonderful illustrations are by Barry Rowe

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Le piquenique c'est fantastique

While the sun is temporarily hiding behind a big black cloud with rain falling out of it, prepare  yourself for its reappearance by making yourself this proper picnic set out of an old suitcase.

picnic set
Be the envy of your fellow park-goers

To find out what you need and how to do it, click here for free instructions. Just add a bottle of wine!

From Crafts (Book Club Associates, 1978)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Socks n sandals

Ahoy there! It's been a while... I've been down on the coast renovating a house.

Hoping to refocus on the blog in the coming weeks. Hope the socks and sandals trend has been a feature of your summer!

EDITED TO ADD: Some of you have asked for the pattern for the splendid wooly accessories in the pic; click here to make the hat, gloves, scarf  (not pictured) and socks. To be worn all together with high-heeled wedge sandals and denim shorts, naturellement!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Tiny embroidered toys

vintage embroidered toys
That lion sure looks cross

These gay ornaments also double as useful pin cushions, it says in the book. I think they'd be lovely hanging one under the other on a string!

Use back stitch, straight stitch, couching, thorn stitch and sequins to decorate these beautiful felt beasts – which don't have to be tiny – make them whatever size you like.

Taken from McCall's Needlework in Colour (1972), you can find a template for the bird, and further instructions here.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Lucky black cats

What with more adventures in my local Cats in Crisis charity shop, cat sitting for some friends' snow-white cat Eira, then finding a sad little note on the doormat when I got back home, saying a furry friend from the neighbourhood had been run over and was 'resting' on St Luke's Rd, it's been a cat-themed week – so here's a feline-based project to round it off...

cat embroidery
Wishing you luck

I found these beautiful appliqué kitties in McCall's Sewing in Colour, first published in 1964, which explains: 'The entrancing cats are worked with a hand-operated sewing machine, by way of being an antique, so giving the interesting hoppity-hoppity line'... however, you can get the same results on an electric machine set to a very narrow zig-zag stitch.

cat embroidery detail
Detail showing the 'Hoppity-hoppity' stitching

If you want to go about creating your very own 1960s-style cat picture, all you need are a piece of canvas for the background, black felt for the cats' bodies, two colours of felt for the eyes and flowers, and small pieces of gauze for the flowers (plus ruler, scissors, tracing paper etc). For a grid to follow and detailed instructions, just click here.

What a lovely good luck present this would make!