old school crafting

I don't have as much time as I'd like for Christmas crafting this year, so when I was thinking about what I'd like to make, I decided to get right back to crafting basics. I've always loved the sewing projects in my stack of 1950s craft books with good old favourites like the gingham and ricrac breakfast tray set above or the gorgeous sewing bag complete with needle holder, pin cushion and scissors case below:

And who wouldn't want this cute (slightly crazed) embroidered hen egg cosy.

As desireable as these items are, I've never attempted to make such things myself, preferring to find treasures like these in op shops and retro homeware stores. But seeing as I have four bags of merino wool roving for felt making and an abundance of silk and cotton fabric remnants, I figured, what the heck, old school handcrafting it is!
The prying eyes of the intended giftees means that I can only show you details of my Christmas projects, but hopefully you'll get some sense of what they are. My embroidery skills aren't as accomplished as women's were a few generations ago, but it's the thought that counts, right...

Another source of inspiration is the World of Interiors magazine, which I treat myself to from time to time. The 'swatch' section is my favourite. The guest stylist chooses a particular type of fabric to profile in each issue and creates the perfect layout. In a feature on matelasse (a woven quilt-like fabric), Miranda Sinclair sewed the swatches into gorgeous little sewing kits and pouches arranged on larger pieces of textured fabric (WOI June 2009).

I couldn't resist doing something similar using textured kimono silk. I've lined the silk with orange cotton, quilted the three inside pockets and edged them with bias binding.

In another issue Maud Hewlings selected a range of fabrics with small prints. She patchworked the swatches together and made a range of pocket bags, which I love (WOI June 2010). Here are a few examples:

Maud's inspiration probably came from the fantastic online exhibition curated by the University of Southhampton called pockets of history, which has hundreds of pocket bags from Museum collections around the UK. Each of the items have been photographed and catalogued according to chronology, sewing styles and fabrics. For textile enthusiasts it is well worth a visit and you'll learn all about the fascinating history of this handy accessory.
You'll no doubt feel inspired, as I did, to attempt to sew a pocket belt or two, so pay attention to useful information on the Pockets of History site, like the average dimensions of the bags. I've used a pre-loved linen tablecloth for the main pocket, lined with green cotton with bias binding around the edges and a thin black velvet cord.

I'll conclude my old school Christmas craft post with a thrifty craft tip.

Stocking fillers are a great way of bulking out your stash of Christmas gifts. I gather little bits and bobs throughout the year, like these adorable knitted critters made by a Hamilton grandma whose friend sells them on her behalf at the Browns Bay market every Sunday. Go and get some! The butterflies are only a dollar each. That's just nuts!

Happy Crafting and Happy Christmas everyone!


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