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Information and tutorials for folks interested in antique Italian lacework, nouveau fashion, sewing techniques and much much more!

Category Archive: Projects

Elsa Schiaparelli and Jean Cocteau Collaborate


Paris is swell. Designer Elsa Schiaparelli worked in collaboration with avant-garde artist Jean Cocteau in 1937 to design a jacket for that year’s Autumn collection. The jacket was embroidered with a woman caressing the waist of the wearer, and long blonde glittering locks cascading down one sleeve, with the embroidering being executed by the couture embroidery house of Lesage. This stunning garment is made of linen, gilded metallic thread embroidery, beads, and paillettes. This is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Posted: Hand-Needlecraft, Museums
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Free Downloadable Lace-Up Sewing Cards


Encourage youngster’s love of sewing and creativity! Children’s lace-up sewing cards are wonderful toys for preschoolers that teach little fingers fine motor skills by lacing the string or yarn through the holes. Here are several sets of free, downloadable and printable sewing cards. Kate has made up cheerful and simple flower, star and moon shapes;Tristan provides instruction for making banana, pear and apple fabric-covered lace-up shapes; and Alexandra has reproduced some amazingly cute vintage lace-up sewing cards on her blog and Flickr. I want to spend Sunday morning sipping hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows and stitching the perky little squirrel!

Posted: Projects, Sewing Techniques
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London Bridge Japanese Cotton


We just got several bolts of new Japanese fabric, including this briskly fabulous piece with London images including the Tower of London, red double-decker buses, and marching Queen’s Guards. I deeply desire a bow tie from this, which I’d debonairly wear with a red wool double-breasted vest and 501s. This fabric is 85% linen/15% cotton, 45” wide and $29.99/yard.

“London Bridge
Is Broken down,
Dance over my Lady Lee.
London Bridge
Is Broken down
With a gay Lady.”

(Earliest printed English version, Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, 1744)

Posted: Fabrics, Projects, Sewing
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Hedgehog Pincushin


Sarah made this easy-peasy tutorial for creating adorable hedgehog pincushions on BurdaStyle. Shade of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle! These would make a great last-minute addition to anyone’s sewing kit gift.
“Then Mrs. Tiggy-winkle made tea—a cup for herself and a cup for Lucie. They sat before the fire on a bench and looked sideways at one another. Mrs. Tiggy-winkle’s hand, holding the tea-cup, was very very brown, and very very wrinkly with the soap-suds; and all through her gown and her cap, there were hair-pins sticking wrong end out; so that Lucie didn’t like to sit too near her.” – B. Potter

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Rockin’ Felt Guitar


Here are directions from Andrea on making a soft sculpture electric guitar, along with a PDF pattern. This rockin’ guitar takes three colors of felt, along with ever-useful pom-poms as trim! It will have your tyke playing Smoke on the Water and Sheena Is a Punk Rocker quicker than you can say “rock on!”

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Make a Bottle Cozy


Are you looking for a last minute gift project? Brett from DesignSpongeOnline designed these easy-to-sew wine cozies. They are sewn using under ¼ of a yard of fabric, making them an ideal project to splurge on fancy-schmancy fabric, or to utilize your tag end stash scraps. Make one up as an alternative to a gift bag when presenting your pal with a bottle of wine or sparkling cider! As Cleopatra knew, everything looks more handsome when wrapped carefully in gorgeous textiles!

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The Exciting Fabric Burn Test


The end of the year is a perfect time to set aside an hour some evening, grab a pot of hot tea, and go through your fabric stash to identify the fiber content of any unknown pieces. Here to assist is the Fabric Burn Test. Grab a holiday candle or a lighter (matches smell of sulfur), a fireproof plate (such as glass or china) and swatches from your fabric stash, and get ready to play domestic scientist! You will need to carefully observe the following; how fast is the fabric burning, what does it smell like, is there a bead or after-flame, and what sort of ash is left behind? Keep the following in mind: burn actual fabric, as the selvedge edge may not be the same fiber as the main piece of cloth and could give a false content reading. Always hold your swatch with metal tweezers, not your delicate fingers. Hold the swatch over water before setting it on fire. Do not sniff burnt fiber until the smoke dissipates. Do not touch the fabric until bead cools. All synthetic fibers should be considered to be a serious drip danger and fume hazard. If you suffer a burn, submerge you skin in ice water immediately. A burn test may not distinguish between cotton and other cellulose fibers, some fabric may have finishes that affect burn results, and weighted silk (with added chemicals) may react more like synthetic fiber.
Acetate: burns quickly, sparking and sputtering. Melts into very hot bead with burning drip danger. The odor is very much like vinegar or burning pepper. No ash. There is black smoke. Fume hazard!
Cotton: Burns very quickly with a large yellow flame. The fire will creep along the threads. The odor is like burning paper. The ash is brown grey, feathery and floats away. There is grey or white smoke.
Linen: Burns slower than cotton. The odor is similar to paper or burning wood. The ash will be dark grey and can be heavier than cotton due to thicker yarn.
Nylon: Will melt , shrink or fuse to itself. Nylon smells like beans, celery or burning string. There are hard glassy beads that cannot be crushed, and hot drip danger. Fume hazard!
Polyester: Quick burning, shrinks away from flame and may flare. Forms a round hard bead. No ash. A slightly sweet chemical odor, and black smoke. Fume hazard!
Rayon: This fiber will burn very quickly with no flame and no melting. The smell of burning rayon is similar to paper or rags. There will be little ash; it will be powdery and blacker than cotton.
Silk: Will burn slowly, the burning stops if withdrawn from the flame. The odor is like burned hair or charred meat. The residue will form round hard beads which are easily crushed. There is little smoke.
Wool/cashmere/mohair/alpaca: Has a smaller slower flame and will not flare. Wool will sizzle and curl. The odor is like burnt hair or feathers. Ash will be crisp and dark. It will crumble if crushed. There is dark smoke and moderate fume.

Posted: Sewing, Sewing Techniques
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Free Moderne Holiday Transfer Embroidery Designs


Noelle from LuckyKitty designed these modern holiday transfer embroidery designs. Drawn with graceful lines, the sweet bird, holly leaves, stars, and ornaments are simple enough to be a quick project. They would be lovely hand-sewn onto a ready-made stockings, baby bibs, napkins, or even potholders!

Posted: Hand-Needlecraft, Projects
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How to Make Gloves


It is glove weather, and I have spent more time than not with my hands shoved into my pockets in a vain effort to keep them warm and coddled. A pair of soft leather gloves in espresso brown with contrasting crimson stitching may be just the thing to wear this winter to keep your fingers toasty. The generous folks at VintageSewing have posted the pages from 1950—How to Make Gloves by Eunice Close. Directions include everything you’ll need to fashion gloves including how to measure your hand, linings, design, inserting a handy zip and more.

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Make a Wacky Pom-Pom Pillow


Anything that uses 12 long yards of pom-poms has my vote as a mandatory and jocular home decorating accessory! Susan from Living with Punks created a wiggly pom-pom pillow, and then graciously made a tutorial so we could all make one. Pom-poms lend soft texture, brilliant color and swaying motion to this pillow. And of course Britex has pom-pom trim in scads of colors, including growl-tastic animal print pom-poms.

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