Monday, February 28, 2011

Now taking pre-orders for fabulous shoes


The time has come for me to have another buying trip! Which means I can finally restock my custom shoes. After I was featured in Etsy's Storque last year I quickly sold out of most styles, so if you missed out before now is your chance to pre-order the shoes of your dreams. The shoes are priced between £38 and £45, and I'll be taking pre-order deposits of 20% - please contact me for details. Please note that as before the shoes will be available in only limited quantities.

Also, if you have an idea for a new style I'd love to hear your suggestions! What would you like to see? I'm thinking of adding a nautical influenced number to the line - blue and white sailor stripes with a ribbon rosette and plastic anchor charm, perhaps - what do you think?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

{Embroidery Week} Embroidery by Sewing Machine

If hand stitching seems all too time consuming, you can always put your sewing machine to use to create embroidered designs. For the atomic motif above I just sketched onto fabric with my disappearing ink pen (equally you could use tailor's chalk or any of the methods I described for transferring embroidery patterns) and followed the lines with my machine (I went round twice for effect).

This was my first attempt, just to experiment with the technique. It's kind of messy, but with a bit of practice I think it could be an effective decoration. It's also dead easy and requires virtually no skill - obviously turning tight curves is a bit tricky, but if you run the machine very slowly it's not too complicated.

I'm picturing motifs on a full skirt, either scattered or as a border, separated with zig-zag lines.

I think starburst type designs would work great too - and no curves to worry about either.


Or use two colours in zig zag stitches for an argyle border - perhaps down the front of a blouse for classic style.


And so Embroidery Week comes to a close (although look out for the completed carousel blouse soon). I really hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have - I'm so excited to have learnt a new technique that I'm having to hold myself back from embroidering everything in sight, and I would love to think that I've inspired some readers to try it out.

Next month's theme week will be all about jewellery. Other upcoming themes include Applique (if you've had fun this week you'll love what I have planned for Applique Week!) and Make Do & Mend.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

{Embroidery Week} Carousel Collar

Sorry for the rather late post - I'm a little behind schedule on the projects I had planned for this week! Here's what I've been working on today - it's not finished yet, but I thought I'd share anyway.

The inspiration came from a recent episode of Marple - an embroidered blouse worn by Joanna Lumley as Dolly Bantry caught my eye:

At first I couldn't quite decide whether it was decorated with little 'native' huts or carousels. Seen again in a later scene it looks more likely to be huts, but by then I was rather taken with the idea of a carousel embroidered collar - in fact if I'm honest that idea is largely responsible for the whole of this Embroidery Week!

I originally intended to use the second of the two identical silk blouses I bought in a charity shop (the other I monogrammed earlier this week), but because the design I'd prepared was a little tight for space on the silk blouse I decided to use a plain white viscose/rayon blouse I recently won for 99p on ebay instead.

I used dressmaker's carbon paper to transfer the design to the collar - it wasn't ideal, as the carbon paper requires quite a lot of pressure to get the colour to come off, so getting all the detail transferred clearly was difficult.

As I did for my monogram, I'm using pure silk thread. This time I'm using only a single thickness though, which makes the work more time consuming and requires more accuracy, but because of the amount of detail to the design I thought it was best. Helpful hint: if you're a beginner embroiderer, don't decide to satin stitch tiny, complex shapes for your second project.

Despite the work involved though, I'm pretty darn excited about how it looks so far! Only another day of stitching on the other side (you might not be able to see in the photo, but I printed it mirrored so the two sides will be symmetrical) to go...

I can't decide what to do with the collar revers though - they look kind of bare. I'm thinking about some backstitch-outlined 'admit one' tickets. What do you think?

Friday, February 25, 2011

{Embroidery Week} Printable DIY Embroidery Transfers

There are literally thousands of free printable vintage embroidery patterns out there - there's a whole group on flickr devoted to them. However a majority seem to be intended for linens or display, so - while I'm not against embroidery for embroidery's sake - I've tried to pick out a few designs which would work on clothing. I've also tried to choose simple designs, suitable for the beginner (like me).

The first two (both from love to sew) are super easy - the 'fluffy' outline means you don't even have to worry about your stitches being even. They're also ideal for embroidering on knits, as the effective 'zig zag' will stretch with the fabric. I can totally see them on a 50s cardigan.



This swallow is also constructed mainly of single, straight stitches. Without the words and clouds I think it would look great on a collar (print it reversed for the other side).


If you fancy trying backstitching an outline, you can hardly go wrong with this cute kitten! Perfect for a skirt pocket?


Transferring your printed pattern

Once you've printed your pattern there are a number of ways to transfer the design to your fabric.

As I did with my monogram, you can trace the design onto your fabric with a disappearing ink pen. This is one of the easiest methods, but it only works on a light coloured fabric which is thin enough to be able to see the design through.

You can get a special pencil specifically designed to create your own iron-on transfers - you trace the printed design (don't forget to print it out in reverse), then iron it onto the fabric.

Tailor's carbon paper transfer sheets are a good way to transfer onto a dark fabric - simply place the transfer paper between your fabric and the printed design, and trace the lines with a stylus, ballpoint pen or sharp pencil.

For knits or felts in dark colours, which won't take any of the above methods, trace the design onto tissue paper. Tack it in place on your garment, and stitch through both layers. When the embroidery is completed, simply tear away the tissue.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

{Embroidery Week} The finished monogram!

And here it is, finished! It took me most of yesterday (when I start something I can't put it down - I'm the same reading books), but I'm so terribly proud of it.

It also just shows how very easy satin stitch is - I was really nervous about it coming out right, but it really is so easy.


For the beginner, here are my top tips for satin-stitching a monogram:
  • Make sure your backstitched outline is accurate. It's difficult to correct wobbles in the outline once you're satin stitching.
  • To follow tight curves in the letter, 'fan out' your stitches (so you go in at exactly the same point on the inside of the curve for two or three stitches)
  • Very thin lines are trickier than thick lines - if you want to make the project as easy as possible go for a bolder font.
  • Even if you miss a bit, you can always go and stitch over the gap.
  • I re-iterate: satin stitching is dead easy - if you've always wanted to try embroidery but been scared of satin stitch, I implore you to try it - it's really not as hard as it looks!

{Embroidery Week} Inspiration

While I work on another Embroidery Week project, here's some embroidery inspiration for you all. I couldn't resist including the Vogart transfers! The other examples I picked because they're all totally achievable for the beginner, with no transfer necessary. They're also all great ideas for ways of using embroidery on clothing - a skirt border, collar or pocket embellishment, embroidered bow/s on the front of a dress (adorable!), personalised gloves (I also love the idea of embroidering bows onto gloves - wouldn't that look cute?).

(available on etsy)

(Available on etsy)

(Available on etsy)



(by Doublespeak on etsy)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

{Embroidery Week} How to Monogram

You will need:
  • An article to monogram - anything from a handkerchief to a shirt pocket to your undies! The embroidery transfer packets I posted yesterday show lots of ways of using monograms.
  • Your design: an iron-on transfer, or a design on paper plus either carbon transfer paper or a disappearing ink pen
  • Thread. I used pure silk sewing thread; embroidery floss or regular cotton thread would also be fine.
  • A needle (obviously)
  • Embroidery hoop. You can do it without one, but they're pretty cheap and help keep the fabric taut.
Designing the Monogram

The basic three letter styling of monograms has not been changed much since the late 19th century to the early 20th century and are still the most commonly used today. Before then, however, monograms consisted of usually one initial, that being the first initial of the last name. Royalty would commonly use this form of monogram with an elaborate family crest intertwined throughout. Single letter monograms are still used today but usually in the monogramming of linens.

Monograms can be in single letter, two-letter or three-letter designs. The traditional format since the late Victorian period is for three-letter monograms with the first and middle initials on either side of the last initial, which is often given more prominence by a larger size. In this format, the monogram for double-barrelled names would have two last initials in the centre.

Monogram transfer showing traditional style, 1940 (from LaCaprice)
Traditional style embroidery font, 1913 (source)

For a more steamlined, Art Deco look, try designing your monogram in a geometric motif:



I took inspiration from this 1950s pattern envelope and decided to go for a two-letter monogram on the breast of a silk blouse I got from a charity shop.

I had originally intended to use an embroidery transfer, but ended up creating my own design. I just played around with different script fonts (there are lots of free fonts on dafont.com) in my graphics program until I found an effect that pleased me.


Stitching the Monogram

Though monograms can be worked in almost any of the standard embroidery stitches, they are traditionally done in satin stitch.

I printed the graphic at the size I wanted, cut it out, pinned it to the inside of the blouse and traced it (badly) using a disappearing ink pen. Another way to transfer the design would be to use carbon paper - you can get dressmaker's transfer sheets in light colours, which would be useful if you are embroidering on dark fabric. I actually tried these first, but the substance didn't seem to adhere to the silk (it worked fine on paper when I tested it; it would probably work on cotton).


Because the disappearing ink would, well, disappear, I first backstitched the entire outline. I'm using pure silk thread in a lovely 1940s shade of deep salmon pink.


To give the finished monogram a 'puffy' appearance (important for making the design more prominent if you are embroidering tone-on-tone, like a lot of vintage linens and handkerchiefs were) I decide to use padded satin stitch. To pad the letter you make long stitches lengthwise along the letter to fill it in, before satin stitching over the top. Padding has the added benefit of extra coverage of the base fabric, helping disguise any small gaps in the satin stitch.


Now I'm ready to start satin stitching. For the padding stitches and the actual satin stitching I'm using a double thickness of thread.


Getting there! With the C nearly completed, I feel like I'm getting into the swing of the satin stitch. You can see the raised finish from the padding. I'm super excited to see how it'll look when it's all done.

Update: The stitching is finished! Photos here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

{Embroidery Week} Monograms

Monograms from Everywoman magazine, 1945

Monogramming linens and clothing was popular through Victorian times - when a bride-to-be would be expected to have a trousseau of monogrammed linens. Victorian monograms were often quite ornate, usually based on Script or Medieval lettering styles and ornamented with scrolls and flowers.

Victorian monograms from French Frou Frou)


Different monogram styles from Home Notes magazine, 1913

Monogramming took on a new, modern look in the 1930s, influenced by the Art Deco movement.

Julia Coburn, in "Make Your Own Monograms" (Ladies' Home Journal, May 1935), indicates that "... if you wish to be in fashion today, the design of your monogram must be in streamline simplicity. And---Gothic or modern---monogram you must, for everything is initialed these days"

Ornate decoration and intertwined letters were replaced by stylish, streamlined monograms.

1930s Art Deco monogram transfers (from The Violet Pansy)

In the 1940s and 50s modern lettering styles continued to be popular. Traditional script lettering was also used, though not as extravagantly decorative as Victorian styles.

Monogram transfer, 1940s (from Modest Clothing)

Monday, February 21, 2011

{Embroidery Week} Learning to Stitch Prettily

Welcome to my second theme week for the year. This week is going to be all about embroidery, so I thought we'd start with an overview of the basic embroidery stitches. Incidentally I've never tried embroidery before (besides cross stitch), so this is a learning week for me. The article comes from Everywoman magazine, November 1945, with the additional diagrams provided by a small booklet entitled "Clark's Embroidery Stitches" from the 1930s.


Fig. 1 shows Lazy-daisy Stitch which is used for small petals and leaves. A bolder effect is obtained by working a second Lazy-daisy stitch outside the first, or by making a straight single stitch - preferably in a darker colour - inside the daisy stitch.


Fig. 2 shows Chain Stitch which can be used singly as a stem or outline. When there is a sharp turn, the chain stitch should be sewn down at the tip, then the cotton can be brought to the right side, in the centre of the chain, and the work continued in the new direction. Chain stitch can also be used in lines close together for thick stems and straight leaves. Where a large surface is to be filled in - as the berries on the sampler - the chain stitch should start at the outer edge, following the outline, then successive rows should be worked inside. In this way it lends itself well to shaded effects.


Fig. 3 shows how Feather Stitch can be used for foliage or as a solid leaf.


Fig. 4 shows Fly Stitches worked evenly inside one another to form a leaf, and also alternated to cover a large surface - as a "filling" when the shape has already been outlined.


Fig. 5 shows Blanket Stitch, which makes a most effective outline for leaves, flowers, etc.



Fig. 6 shows close Herringbone Stitch, which is very useful for ribbons, scrolls, narrow petals and leaves, and is much quicker and easier than satin stitch for these. Rows of ordinary open herringbone stitch are also shown for use as a "filling".


Fig. 7 shows Caterpillar Stitch (or Bullion Stitch), which is mostly used for small petals and leaves, usually on children's frocks or small articles.


Fig. 8 shows Satin Stitch, which is used for ribbons, narrow leaves, petals, etc.

Where larger surfaces are to be covered Long and Short Stitch is combined with the satin stitch. As its name implies, the first row is worked with alternate long and short stitches. Further rows are worked with stitches of the same length, but have an uneven effect. Then the last row is long and short again to end with a straight line.


The edges of the Sampler are finished with Blanket Stitch. A hem should be turned and tacked down, then the blanket stitch worked evenly over it, holding the hem in place. The left-hand side shows a variation, in that the stitches are worked alternately long and short. The hem should be the width of the shorter stitch. On the right-hand-side, 3 blanket stitches are worked into the same place at the hem, but evenly spaced at the edge.

The line down the centre of the Sampler is worked in Stem Stitch, which is used as an outline, or can be worked in rows like chain stitch.


The first row across is a variation of Chain stitch.

The second row across shows double feather stitch ornamented with french knots. This can only be worked in straight lines and is mostly used for baby's nighties. Single french knots are often used for centres of small flowers, and groups of knots for larger flowers.


The third row across is ordinary herringbone stitch, which makes an effective border and is quickly worked.

The fourth row across is Snail Trail Stitch, which can only be used for straight lines and outlines.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New and Coming Soon - plus a discount code!

Yes, it's been a while since I did any store updates! But I'm getting back to work with a whole bunch of new spring stock. What's more, I'm offering a 10% discount throughout my etsy store to all blog readers with the coupon code tuppenceblog. These will all be going into my ebay and etsy stores over the next week or so - please contact me if you'd like a reserve.

Clockwise from top left: H&M 50s style floral sun dress (size UK 12); 1930s rayon crepe dress with puff sleeves, shaped shirred waistline and satin waist ties (size M/L); 70s-does-40s bow print tea dress with puffed sleeves and matching belt (size M); 1950s tie-neck blouse (size M); 1950s cherry and blossom novelty print day dress (size M/L); 1940s linen/rayon blend (it feels like) nautical dress with velvet ribbon and buttons around the collar (size S).

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