Saturday, 16 February 2013


Good Morning to you,

Firstly, I would like to thank Kathryn from The Dedicated House who kindly featured my white beaded cushion this week see here.   I was over the moon.   Kathryn hosts Make it Pretty Monday, please pop over and visit her, I know she will be thrilled to see you. 

What can be inside this rather old, well used, red book. The cover is quite plain, it has a motif which is two cotton spools and a sewing needle. The cover appears to be quilted and you can feel the slight texture as you run your hands across it.

Shall we take a peek inside,

This is a beautiful carpet, worked by Queen Mary, grandmother to our present day Queen, Elizabeth II. The twelve panels were worked separately and the border was added afterwards. The carpet, which is worked entirely in cross stitch, took nine years to complete.

Yes, it is a late 1940's early 1950's Needlecraft Book. This book contains everything you need to know about sewing, dressmaking, dress accessories, embroidery, knitting, crochet, toy making, lace making, mending, patchwork and soft furnishings. As you can see, this is a very comprehensive needlecraft book. It is a book I use on a regular basis, because although fashions change, needlework does not.

The description of these collars reads "The straight collar on the left looks most attractive on a V-neck dress. It is made in crisp white organdie with blue embroidery and trimming. On the right is the square tailored collar, which has a narrow frilled edging and a Broderie Anglaise insertion."

These collars remind me of ones which we wore during the 1980's. Do you remember the styles which Princess Diana wore....the square collar is so very similar.

This photograph shows an original Victorian belt, made of velvet, and is boned and laced. It was made in 1880 and the actual waist measurement is 18 inches. There are twelve shaped panels with fine light boning sewn in to the seams. Silk cord is laced through the eyelet holes.

Can you imagine a waist measurement of 18 inches, I think as women, our shapes are changing. I did think that the design was like a corset and so must have pulled the waist in, but this is a belt, so I don't believe that would be possible.

"Designed for cold winter mornings, this smart house-coat, with a double breasted fastening, shawl collar and full skirt, should be made in woollen fabric in a gay colour. "

As beautiful as this house-coat is, I would never get any housework done, it would be to cumbersome. These house-coats were presumably worn by ladies of leisure.

Again, go back a few years to 1971. I owned a black Maxi-coat, in exactly the same design as this house-coat. George said, it was as if I glided when I walked because he could not see my feet......but it was very fashionable and it kept me warm in the winter.

"This attractive slip, is suitable for day or evening wear. It has a gathered frill edge with lace round the hem, and the figure flattering yoke is finished with narrow lace."

I only know two people who still wear slips and that is Phyllis and Sadie who are both 82 years of age.

"This very attractive nightdress has a deep band of smocking round the waist and a narrower band trims the top of the bodice. It has wide shoulder-straps and the hem is finished with a gathered frill. The top edge is frilled to match."

One of the first things I learnt to sew when I was a school girl was a nightdress, perhaps not as elegant as this, but just as simple to make.

....and here is the pattern, just two, long, pieces of material, which are smocked and sewn.

"Warm without being bulky, this bed jacket is worked in a crazy-pattern crochet. The straight "cut" and Magyar-style sleeves give ease of fit, the only fastenings being the ribbon ties at the neck, waist and sleeves."

I remember, when I was a little girl, Ivy used to knit her own bed jackets.  She would wear them to bed, to keep her warm and cosy through the long winter nights.

"This is a pattern for a dinner frock. The bodice is a straight piece draped at the hip into a centre panel.  The two-piece bodice has cap sleeves and is gathered at the shoulder seam to give soft folds at the front."

Again this dress, which has padded shoulders, puts me in mind of the dresses we wore in 1980's. I had a similar dress in pale blue, it was a little shorter, the hem reached just below my knee, but otherwise, it could be the same dress.

"The motif on the centre panel of the rectangular cushion is Jacobean in style. The other cushion has applique patchwork, the motifs are made up of diamonds of plain and patterned fabrics.

I realise the first cushion is Jacobean in style, but it really does put me in mind of  cushions which can be bought at Ikea. I think it is the beautiful embroidery.

If you are lucky enough to have a sewing room, take a look around it and look at everything you have.  Then take a look at this photograph,

Like me, you probably have shelves, filled with material, patterns, cotton, ribbon, books, wool, beads, embroidery threads....the list is endless. Now look at the picture above, to see what our mother's and grandmother's used.

"Here you see part of a room which has been made into a cosy sewing corner. Note the useful cabinet on the left to hold cottons, scissors, patterns and so on. It is essential that the sewing machine stands in a good light, and that the chair is very comfortable."

Our mother's and grandmother's achieved such beautiful work with so very little equipment and materials.  It made me think about what I have and how lucky I am to have so much, in a room, I can call my sewing room.  I am grateful for what I have and I am full of admiration for the women who went before us, who achieved so much with so little.

I enjoy looking back to a life my mother and grandmother lived.  Yes I appreciate it was austere, and often a hard life, but I do believe in these times, where money has to stretch further for families, we can learn a thing or two from them.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I shall be joining Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage.

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