I've always loved vintage sewing items, from fabric to patterns to books and magazines, they've always fascinated me. It's the reason I got interested in sewing, it's the reason I named myself Vintage Sewing Box on social media many, years ago! A few weeks before Covid changed our world, I visited the Bronte Museum in Haworth and I was in awe of all of the wonderful vintage sewing and patchwork items that were there.
The Bronte sisters were avid sewers and painters as well as readers and writers. They were such a creative family. I love the quilt on this bed and I want to recreate it someday, in my own colour palette.
There was even an exhibition by an artist called Tamar Stone, of tiny patchwork quilts. This was displayed in the Bronte house and it was lovely to see. If you can visit one day, I highly recommend it. The Brontes are an important part of British literary history and it is so interesting to learn about their lives.
I've been looking through the vintage sewing things my Gran left to me. It's really inspiring to see them, but also very emotional as they bring back memories. Unfortunately she did not finish much of what she had, and many of her kits are untouched. It makes me determined to use and enjoy what I have. If you'd like to see more in detail, I have a video showing everything on my YouTube channel and there's an unexpected twist in the middle as I decide to start working on one of her table cloths. I hope I can do it justice.
Have you collected any vintage or antique sewing things? What do you treasure? I'd love to know.
As a little change from the usual EPP topic of conversation around here, I'm going to share with you my finished FPP (foundation paper piecing) cushion. I started this as part of the Summer Book Club QAL run by Kate Basti using her Tall Tales book block pattern. When I began this project, I knew I was going to make a cushion/pillow rather than a quilt. Reading is one of my little boy's favourite things to do. I often find him in his room reading books to himself either sitting in his little armchair or lying in bed. It's hard for him to sit up in bed to read because there isn't anything comfortable to lean against, which brought me to the idea of making him a cushion and a book themed one would be perfect! After searching though my fabric stash and buying some story themed fabric to add to what I already had, I realised that my cushion needed a little something extra to make it really exciting. I had some Three Little Pigs fabric that I had bought about 10 years ago and that gave me the idea for incorporating The Wonky House pattern by Larisa who is @stitchingnotes on Instagram. It's such a cute pattern and I thought it would go perfectly with the books and I hoped that if I could get the sizing right then I could use the houses as the front covers. Well somehow I managed to pull it off! So it was my first attempt at FPP and even though it really isn't perfect, I really love this cushion.
First of all it felt fantastic to actually finish something! Most of my projects are very much long term projects so I don't often experience the feeling of finishing something, and it feels nice! Secondly, the cushion is so soft and squishy and lovely to cuddle into. Once I'd pieced the front and back panels, I quilted them onto wadding by stitching with my machine in the ditch and adding hand quilting details. This gives it a lovely quilted effect and makes the cushion extra comfortable. I loved added the hand stitched details, I think that was my favourite part of making this cushion. There was something so soothing and relaxing about repetitively stitching into the quilted fabric, I loved it. Thirdly, I used some fabrics that were very special to me. I bought them many, many years ago in the hope of making a child of mine something special, and that has eventually come true and means so much to me.
I will give this cushion to my little boy on his third birthday which is coming up very very soon! It's so incredibly important to me that I make things for him that he will love. He loves the story of the Three Little Pigs so I hope it will help him to retell the tale and I hope that beautiful illustrations on all of the fabrics I've used will be something he can use to help him develop his speech further. I remember being a similar age to him and having a dress that had a park scene printed on it. It was full of detail and I loved looking at it and imagining stories. I hope he does the same with his cushion.
I really enjoyed FPP once I had got my head around the technique and I'm sure I will be trying it again. I think FPP is like magic! It's so fun how you can create images with your piecing, I can't wait to tackle some other patterns. If you are a beginner at FPP like me, I recommend both of the patterns I have mentioned here as they are definitely both achievable for beginners. I did have to use my seam ripper a few times but once I'd gained an understanding as to how to do FPP, it wasn't as tricky as I first thought. My piecing wasn't perfect but I am trying to embrace imperfections and learn from them for next time! And don't forget to check out this blog post of mine from a while back as it is full of useful hints and tips for FPP success!
I'm lucky enough to be going on holiday tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm holidaying in the UK so I won't be going on a plane, in fact, we are just travelling in the car and it will be about a 5 hour journey without stops. I've been thinking about which sewing projects to take with me for months! For me, more thought goes into that than it does into what clothes to take, but if you are reading this then I'm guessing you put lots of thought into your travel sewing projects too! I usually pack too many sewing projects, for fear of running out - which never happens! As I like to switch between projects often, I need to make sure I have a variety with me because otherwise I run the risk of losing interest and doing nothing. It's a family holiday so I anticipate many an evening spent playing board games together so I want to take projects that are easy to pick up and put down. Whilst I'd love to take embroidery with me, I know that any stitching time will be in the evenings and I just can't see well enough without a daylight lamp, so I think the conclusion is to take EPP projects with me!
First up, I'm going to take my current two scrappy projects - quarter inch hexies and three quarter inch diamonds. I don't yet have a concrete plan for these projects, I'm just making it up as I go along, but taking some pretty scraps, sharp scissors and glue pens will be all I need in addition to the paper templates, thread and a needle. The ultimate portable project!
I'm also going to take my current Sew and Quilt blocks of the month. I am loving this quilt so much that I know I will be thinking about it whilst I am on holiday and I will end up desperate to work on it! So I've been glue basting as many shapes as I can like mad to make sure that I can just pick it up and stitch.
I will pack my projects in small pouches like this one pictured below. I also purchased a Clover Needle Dome as I thought this might be useful for keeping needles safe and threaded ready to sew. So far I really like it and it works perfectly. I also purchased some needles in little cases, again hoping that this would be a safe way to store them whilst travelling. Crucially, I stocked up on Sewline glue pen refills! I'm pretty certain I won't need this many but running out on holiday would be a disaster!
Do you take your sewing projects on holiday? Have you ever taken your sewing machine on holiday?! I'd love to hear all about it so please leave me a comment here or over on Instagram.
I thought I’d share a bit about myself as I know it is nice to learn about the person behind the business. I’ve been making things since I was a really young child. I used to love tapestry long stitch kits and I can remember getting sewing kits for my birthday when I was about five. They were the sort of kits that provided you with fabric with holes punched in it so you could use a large plastic needle threaded with raffia. I can remember using this kit to make purses and scissors keepers. I can also remember doing fine embroidery as a child and trying to learn to knit. I found knitting very difficult and I have only really found the knitting bug recently since discovering the continental knitting style.
So the creative arts have always been part of my life and I have been heavily influenced by my Mum and Gran. My Gran is a fantastic embroiderer, crocheter and knitter. Her stitches are impeccable. I really love this tablecloth she embroidered in the 1940s.
I love the design as it’s the sort of thing I’d choose to do today. Her crochet work is so intricate. For this mat, which I have framed in my house, she used cotton thread and a hook the size of a pin head. She also created a whole tablecloth using this pattern. I wish I could say I will do something like this one day but I know I won’t!
My Mum is an amazing knitter and can knit anything at all. Her work is perfectly neat. She also embroiders and does cross stitch from time to time. Here is a picture of a christening shawl she knitted from lace weight yarn.
With all of this influence I have turned my hand to many crafts but all types of sewing remain my favourite. Throughout my teenage years I didn't do very much sewing and making, but I did love textiles at school and incorporated this into my GCSE art work. After university, I returned to sewing and bought my first sewing machine. 13 years later and I've never looked back. Sewing is a part of my daily life and I can't imagine ever not doing it. When I became a mum last year, many people said you'll never find time to create. My son has inspired me even more and I make sure I find as much time as possible, when he naps in the day or is asleep at night. I don't really watch TV (mainly as there's never anything on that interests me) so this is another reason why I can get lots done.
I find sewing and creating in general so beneficial to my life, which is why I want to inspire more people to learn to sew. A recent study by Hobbycraft found that 1 in 5 people can't sew a button on and 52% of people were never taught to sew at school. Up until becoming a mum I was a primary teacher. I loved teaching my classes to sew and always found it really surprising and exciting that the children you least expected to be good at sewing were always the best. The calming effect that sewing had on my classes was very evident and it was often the boys who really loved both sewing and knitting.
The methodical, repetitive nature of sewing is very soothing and calming. Concentrating on creating with your hands frees your mind of worry, anxiety and stress. This is because you are focusing on creating something. In this fast paced world we now live in, slowing down, taking time and relaxing with a sewing project is like therapy in itself. The sense of achievement and pride when you complete a project is difficult to find in other aspects of modern day life. In addition to this, sewing benefits our environment because it creates sustainable objects and moves us away from the throw away society we have become. It teaches us to respect objects and appreciate the work that has gone into crafting them which can only be a good thing. So if you are new to sewing, give it a try and I hope you become as hooked on it as I am because I am sure it will benefit your life greatly.
About the Author
My name is Emma and I love all things sewing, especially EPP. My little blog is the place where I document what I'm making. I hope you enjoy reading what I'm up to! All opinions are my own and I only share things that I think you will love. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.