Saturday, 14 April 2012

Inspired by the past

I have been a collector of vintage hand embroidered linens for at least 4 years now. It all started when I found a large embroidered table cloth at the bottom of a box in a charity shop. I was in awe of the beautiful florals hand embroidered around the edges - it must have taken hours to stitch, but was horribly stained in the middle. For only £2 I couldn't leave it languishing at the bottom of that old cardboard box, so I decided I would make it into cushions. As cushions they could be admired everyday without the risk from a drippy teapot! You can see the results on my old blog here.

The hand embroideries I collect would have been stitched by ordinary women between around the 1940-60s. They where the sort of thing that women did in the evenings as a hobby to make pretty things for their homes. Today we are used to mass produce products that are cheaper to buy than make ourselves but back then, making your own clothes and things to decorate your home made financial sense. This would have been a craft that the war time land girls would be doing in their free time and so I really want to include hand embroidery in my final outcome.

A few years ago, after my mum had been having a sort out at home she handed me this box along with some other bits and pieces. Inside, to my delight, were hundreds of old embroidery transfers that had belonged to my great grandmother. Embroidery transfers are ironed onto the fabric you wish to embroider to provide a guide for stitching onto. Traditionally, the picture that is left by the transfer will be completely covered by the embroidery when it is finished, but I think it would be interesting to create a outline style print using the florals.

Whilst look through my collection of embroideries I discovered a few vintage pinnys I've picked up from various car boots. They remind me how, in the 40s and 50s, women liked to combine the pretty with the practical.

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