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!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Keep it under your hat

vintage millinery
Illustrations by the author. Nice work, Dora

A short and sweet post after a long absence! Facebook friends will know the saga of this book, spotted in the window of a Cats in Crisis charity shop in my local high street. But whenever I went past, no matter what time of day, it was closed – yet the window display had often been rearranged.

Well so desperate was I to get my hot little hands on this book that I made two trips into town today specially, determined. The first I was greeting by the customary Sorry, we're CLOSED sign, but the second time – bingo. £4 and it was mine.

Make Yourself  a Hat vintage craft book millinery
They weren't always cheesy romance y'know

Love the fact it's published by pedlars of cheesy romance Mills & Boon. Also like the sound of Dora Shackell's other publications:

vintage millinery
If you see any of these, let me know

This tiny book has only 30 pages, including stockists and an intro, so the projects are thin on the ground but include Make a Sailor Hat, Make a Breton Hat and this one:

vintage millinery

Charming huh. And if you want to find out how, just click here and here for your free instructions.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Five festive DIY decorations

xmas paper decorations
Group shot

If you're planning on decking your halls the DIY way this festive season, look no further than these wonderful 3D paper angel, bird, star and circle decorations – hard to believe they are 46 years old! 

xmas paper ring one
Star of the show

These wonderful illustrations came from the Paper & Cardboard Modelling section in the back of Children's Britannica encyclopaedia volume 13 (Pacific Islands to Pond Life).  

xmas paper ring two
Star in a box

Each project is signed and dated 'Sheila Perry, 1967', the shading details are great and I just love them. So without further ado, get out your cardboard, glue (and perhaps a bit of glitter), and enjoy a crafty Christmas, 1960s-style. 

Click on the caption/link under each image for instructions.

xmas paper flying bird
Partridge in a pear tree?

xmas paper star

xmas paper circles
Groovy circles

xmas paper angel
Best-dressed angel in town

Happy holidays to one and all! 

Oh, and there's another project in the same series here

Monday, 25 November 2013

What I call a stall

When I spied the Judith Mansfield Books stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show in the pretty northern spa town of Harrogate this weekend, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven...

Just a teeny part of the stall

Packed with secondhand books and magazines about sewing, knitting, crochet, weaving, embroidery, cross stitch and printing, not to mention the boxes of old sewing patterns, this was a vintage craft book collector's dream come true.


Or it would have been if I'd not been working. I was hoping for an hour off from teaching workshops to have a proper rummage, but my classes were all booked up and all I could manage was a dash to Judith's stand just as the show was closing. Judith herself wasn't there but I had a chat to her husband, who told me they don't have a website or sell online, but they do have a seven-day-a-week stall at the Hebden Bridge Antiques Market I feel a special trip back to Yorkshire coming on!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

From rags to rugs

I never thought this day would come, but I plan to start making a rag rug. There, I've said it.

vintage craft rag rug
Hello, kitty

This the shocking realisation dawned on me soon after buying a 1980 book, simply called Crafts, for 50p in Deptford market last Saturday, and seeing with my own eyes that the humble rag rug, staple of of Fairtrade shops and student flats in the 80s, when made in the right colour combinations, could actually look amazing.

The patchwork number above is made out of fabric strips and hardwearing twine or string, woven into squares and sewn together. Fear not, you don't need to have a fancy room-sized loom – a basic £10 kids' tabletop one will do the job just fine... click here to find out exactly how to go about it.

DIY rag rug
Protest singer's pad?

If you can't be bothered faffing about with a weaving loom, this lovely autumnal rug is made by braiding (plaiting) long strips of fabric together, winding the plait round in an oval or circular spiral and stitching each round to the previous one. Depending on the thickness of your fabric and the sturdiness of your sewing machine, you could probably zigzag the whole thing together on a machine. Easy peasy instructions for this one here.

It was a happy day when I stumbled upon my new favourite book. Craft (Book Club Associates, 1980) also features no fewer than 10 different belts to make, plus two hammocks and a picnic basket, which I look forward to sharing with you toute suite.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Normal service will resume soon

Apologies for the blog haitus, I've been doing rather a lot of this of late:

Daring decor

... I look forward to getting back in the making and writing saddle once this move + DIY frenzy is over. Stay cosy!