Friday, March 25, 2011

{Jewellery Week} Make a 1950s Novelty Brooch

A couple of months ago I was flicking through a run of Woman's Own magazines from 1950 in a local antique shop trying to decide which to buy (at £2.50 each I had to be selective) when I spotted this adorable idea for a DIY novelty brooch. The magazine went into my shopping bag, and the idea was earmarked for Jewellery Week (replacing my original plan to make a brooch from a doll's house miniature hat - which I still think would work great, but I couldn't find any suitable miniature hats). I love how my theme weeks actually make me tackle projects from my 'sometime' list - this week I made my own.

You will need:
  • Coloured felt (or other non-fraying fabric)
  • Matching coloured thread (optional)
  • Freezer paper
  • Fabric glue
  • A few inches of striped ribbon
  • A few inches of craft wire (or a metal hairpin)
  • Needlenose pliers (optional - they're just for shaping the wire)
  • Black thread or embroidery floss
  • Brooch pin back
I used cheap red felt for the gloves - it was quite thin so I cut out two layers and stitched them together. They actually looked cool without the stitching, but I liked the idea. I traced the template for the gloves directly from the magazine, and I've scanned it and included it below for you to print and use. Freezer paper is absolutely perfect for detailed shapes because you can iron it onto the fabric and it sticks. Once you've cut out the shapes, the freezer paper just peels off.

Cording the handle of the umbrella was dead easy - it's exactly the same technique you used to make friendship bracelets when you were little, shown in the diagram below (source), in which the blue line is the wire. Using two or three strands of embroidery floss it works surprisingly quickly.

My local fabric shop didn't have any black and white stripe ribbon, so my umbrella is striped in sky blue. Winding the ribbon around the wire is a bit fiddly. I adhered the end of the ribbon to the end of the wire handle with fabric glue, waited for that to dry, then squiggled more glue up the back of the ribbon before wrapping it. I had difficulty gathering the ribbon for the frill (partly, I think, because my ribbon is fairly low quality) so I just tied a 'bow' and glued that on instead.

And there you have it, a cute 1950s novelty pin! I was so excited I had to wear it before the glue was even completely dry, and made Matin take photos despite having promised him a day off picture-taking. I was also really pleased with my hair - I did it in some sort of French twist thing, which despite the best efforts of a surprisingly brisk southeasterly held up remarkably well. (Apologies for the slightly vacant expression - the sun was reeeally bright!)

What's also great is that this basic design lends itself to so many variations on the theme, too - I'm already picturing a pair of pastel coloured gloves with a little lacy parasol for a summery version. Or gloves in white felt overlaid with ivory lace, with a black and white striped umbrella for a "My Fair Lady" twist.


  1. That is such a cute idea- thanks for sharing….. She says as she wonders off to find her scraps of felt! Tups x ;)

  2. Oh I love it and will put it on my to do list too thanks for showing us.

  3. Not my sort of thing - probaby because I am not clever enough to make such a thing - but this looks lovely on you :)

  4. Sooo lovely, I have to make one my own. :)

  5. How great and simple! I'm definitely putting this on my crafty list!

  6. thank you for sharing this!! how perfectly adorable for April showers :)

  7. Aww, how cute this this?! I have a ton of felt in the basement too. I'm going to have to whip up one of these. Thank you so much for sharing!! xoxo

  8. So cute! I'm definitely going to try making this over the weekend, I even have all the supplies! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Oh my goodness, I love this SO much!! I have tons of craft felt, too. I definitely see one of these in my future!

  10. thanks for sharing! i LOVE 50's novelty themes...can't wait to try this!

  11. That's an amazing craft. Looks really good on you too!

  12. Alrighty, my dear--you are really tempting me too much with all these brilliant DIY projects! :) And I think I might just have all the supplies on hand for this one... Guess I know what I'm doing while husband and I watch a movie tonight! ;) This is so, so darling--thank you bunches for sharing!!! :)

    ♥ Casey

  13. Saw that Casey followed your instructions and made this brooch over on Elegant Musings. Such a cute tutorial!

  14. What a darling idea; thank you for sharing it! I thought the 1st photo of you was one from the magazine; you look lovely and very vintage; I love your hair style. I've just discovered these Retro blogs and hopped over from another. I just LOVE them'm off to explore the rest of your blog now. It looks just fantastic!

  15. This is so cute! I can't wait to try it. Thanks

  16. Hello Charlotte,

    Thank you very much for this nice tutorial. I must try it and want to show you my own brooch: :)


  17. Oh wow!! this is so beautiful!!! you are amazing !


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