Over the past couple of decades I have collected and been gifted many pieces of vintage embroideries, doilies, linens, tatting, crochet, cotton spools, cutlery, scissors and even a few uncompleted tablecloths which I felt the need to rescue in the hope that one day my own fingers would finish them.
I'm not sure when my love affair with all the loveliness of vintage kitchen, dining and sewing pieces began but I can say with certainty that it's always been connected to memories growing up in Nana's small home.
The older I became the more I pondered her life and felt more keenly the loss of her presence. No-one hugged like my Nana and I used to think no-one laughed like her until one day I realised my own laugh was a very real echo of hers. Loud and joyful. That brought a deep abiding smile to my heart.
What I consider vintage loveliness now she would have thought quite ordinary and everyday in her time because every day is exactly how she used her embroidered linens, bone handled knives, stork scissors, fine laces and thread.
Anyhow, I am revisiting my rather overflowing boxes of all things vintage at the moment spurred on by a challenge which I came across through a friend on Instagram. Being that my daily employment is to design and embroider patterns for purchase, I was rather intrigued to take on a challenge which was outside my comfort zone - making pretty paper backed tags.
Fifty two tags to be accurate. One each week through the year.
The host of this #52tagshannemade challenge is Anne Brooke of @hannemadebyanne. She's a UK textile artist and tutor who does lovely things with a variety of textile pieces and after reading through the details of this year long adventure I decided to jump right in and have some creative fun that wasn't associated with anything else I do.
The week one tag was to be all white and that's what got me digging through all my vintage bits and pieces again, a reminder of how much pleasure they give - especially when I make use of them creatively.
This is my completed week one white tag. They all slip onto a large ring over time to keep them together but I am yet to find a ring large enough.
Now, back to those vintage linens and laces...
I have occasionally embroidered a design onto the centre of a crochet edged doily but this is done very carefully as the first time I tried this the pigma pen I trace with bled into the fabric as the material was old, fine and had a looser weave than what we use today. Now I take extra care and don't have the same problem but still, its been a while since I last used a vintage linen to stitch on.
I really like the pieces which lend themselves to this opportunity and look for them whenever I'm op-shopping, at garage sales or markets...
Something else which sends my heart aflutter is vintage lace and to be honest this is what I collect more than anything else. Just the feel of that feathery softness across my hands is pure delight.
I mentioned earlier that I also like to rescue unfinished pieces. There's a few in my collection for 'one day' but this tablecloth is my favourite and the only one I have already begun to work on...
Only one corner was completed when I found it and there were no threads in the accompanying plastic bag so I spent a good deal of time looking for the same or very similar threads to work with. I did find a variegated blue very close in colour so I began to copy the one completed corner by filling in the little chain stitch squares and the stem stitch connections in the opposite corner. Later I found the right green and yellow. This will be a long process to complete the cloth but I'm not in a hurry; embroidery should always be done gently, without rushing...that's the advice I give to everyone who asks because it truly makes the world of difference.
Two years ago I shared a tutorial to make a vintage style needle-book which featured a pretty cross-stitched doily. At the time I was just embarking on a new love, crochet, and added that to the inside as well as some lace and English paper piecing.