Monday, April 04, 2011

1930's Inspiration

I have this small collection of 'Good Needlework' books from the 1930's (I buy them whenever I find them, as they usually have some very achievable ideas inside.) The projects included are mostly hand embroidered pieces (sadly I don't have time for these more detailed projects), but each book also includes other pretty ideas and techniques that were popular at the time. Its great to see a resurgence in handmade again, with some of the ideas shown in these old craft books making a comeback today. For example, I have seen several etsy sellers who make these fabric roses...
...Which include adding them to pearl and bead necklaces, as below...Lovely to see an old idea looking fresh and new some 70 to 80 years later...I guess there really is a return of the 'make do and mend' ethos again.
These vintage satin slippers that I have in my collection, have similar fabric roses fastened to the toes.
Whilst flicking through my old needlework books again, I came across these instructions.

I have always loved the three dimensional fruits that can be simply made from small gathered circles of fabric. I have a few old examples around our home...
On a handmade padded coat hanger...

Atop a rather beautiful hat box...
And as a decorative addition to this sewing box, which was given to me by my friend Helen, last Christmas.
I thought it would make a nice challenge for me to have a go at making some of these fruits.
I wanted the finished piece to have an authentic 30's look, so, having made the berries and leaves quite some time ago, I have been waiting for the right fabric to come along, on which to stitch them, to make a bag.
I used vintage velvets to make them, with a lovely green velvet ribbon for the leaves.
The perfect background fabric was found on our recent shopping trip to Dorset. I bought the lovely rosy pink sculptured velvet in Bridport.
I arranged several of the fruits in an asymmetric line along one edge of the fabric, which would become the decoration along the bottom edge of the bag. I then carefully hand stitched them in place from the back, so that the stitches were hidden.
It was then a case of cutting out all of the pattern pieces; back, front, handles etc. and making up the bag.
I used the gathered style of handbag that I have made before, as I like the 30's look it has to it.

The velvet was once an old curtain, which had a rather nice satin fabric still lining it. I reused this as well, to line the inside of the bag. It fastens with a wooden button and fabric loop.
I shall be taking this with me to the 2nd Annual Vintage Textile and Costume Day at Dairy House on Sunday. I have been frantically making a few other one-off pieces to take with me, which I shall try to show on my blog before I pack them away in readiness for the event. If you can make it on the day, I'm sure you are in for a treat. More details can be found here.
Have a great week,
Niki x


  1. We should be stalking the antique stores for craft magazines to be current. Thanks for the insight.

  2. gorgeous!

  3. What a great idea to revive design inspiration.


  4. Inspirational post!
    Love the little bag.
    Good luck for Sunday.

    Sandie xx

  5. Just beautiful, lovely colour too...I'd love to go to that show on Sunday but it's a bit far:)

  6. I so love those books.

  7. Lovely books,its amazing that these old styles can be used now and will not look old fashioned. With clever use of fabrics and colours you have made a fantastic job of the bag it looks really modern, hope you get chance to let us see the other projects you are going to do before your event on Sunday. Good luck to you. Sue x

  8. Great post, old things are the best!

    Bee happy x
    Have a delicious day!

  9. I've said it before, Niki you are so talented! See you Sunday.
    T x

  10. What a gorgeous bag Nikki!

    You are right - the garland necklace would look just as lovely today as it did then.



Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx