Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Vintage knits with Handmade by Kate-Em

I love to knit. It makes me happy and relaxed. I love starting with a gorgeous ball of yarn and ending up with a beautiful garment. I can be found knitting most of the time, even when I am supposed to be doing something else. I also love vintage clothes, particularly those from the 1940s and 1950s. I like the elegance, the cut and fit, the fabrics, the quality and the attention to detail. I enjoy the glamour, the hairstyles, the make up and the accessorising. A while ago I realised that I could combine both these loves into one fabulous, enjoyable, exciting experience. I decided to make good use of my collection of vintage knitting patterns and started to make up the garments. I try to keep as close to the original pattern as possible, using the correct weight of wool and needle size. If colours are suggested I often try to use them, to see what the garment would have looked like to the person who designed it.

At present, I make what I love to sell at vintage fairs and I also knit to order. It is wonderful to see the old patterns come to life and I thought you may like to see them too. My mum also enjoys making from vintage patterns so some of the items are made by her, especially the crocheted ones.

On Sunday I had a stall at Halifax Vintage Extravaganza. The following pictures are of items I had there.

You might recognise these from my previous post.
 They make a gorgeous colourful bouquet.
Displayed in a cut glass dish from a charity shop.

The stall in full.
Notice I have used a carnation as an accessory and to hide my belt buckle!

A 1950's petal cap.
Each petal is knitted individually then sewn together.
It is worn towards the back of the head and pinned in place.

The green pom pom hat, you can see it is in the original colourway.
From the 1940s.
Best worn at a jaunty angle.
Handmade by my mum!

1940's moss stitch turbans.
There is a cap part that sits at the back of the head.
The long strand is then twisted to form a knot and looped over the cap to secure it.
A 1940's leaf beaded leaf band and matching beaded bag.
In cream, it would suit a vintage bride.
Handmade by my mum.

Several leaf bands and a gorgeous beaded snood.
The cabled scarf is a 1940's lady's cravat.
The gold hat is a 1950's Juliet cap.

A 1940's cable edge cap.
Also to be worn at a jaunty angle.
Lined with vintage Chinese brocade from my great auntie's curtains!
Handmade by my mum.
Look out for more vintage knits in future posts.

Monday, 21 May 2012

How to make a 1940s floral accessory

Recently I had a craft day with a friend. Sometimes it is great to craft on your own as your mind is free to roam and be creative. But, I also enjoy crafting with others - its sociable, you can exchange ideas, swap techniques, add moral support or cups of tea through disasters and you get to be nosey and see what others are making. My friend made lots of beautiful items for her home - storage bags and boxes, a table runner and cushions.

I was inspired by a 1940s pattern that I have for leather accessories. It features a bag, cap, purse and a gorgeous carnation. I was thinking about how 1940's women always accessorised their outfits well, often out of necessity as buying new was not always an option. So I decided to make some carnations to brighten up dresses, cardigans, hats, bags, as buttonholes or perhaps just to put in a jug on my desk. I have used felt, as women at that time often did.

On plain paper I drew 2 grids, one 2" by 3" and one 3" by 4". I have used inches as I wanted to make my flower to its original dimensions. I used these grids as a guide to draw my petal and calyx templates. You could draw these by hand and could also change the shape and size.

Once cut out I pinned each pattern piece to the felt. Each carnation needs one calyx and 12 petals. I cut round the template rather than draw round it so that no marks would be on show on the finished carnation. I used pinking shears round the petal top as carnations look a bit feathery, you could also cut a fringe or leave it plain.
Next, take one petal and roll it into a tube. I secured it at the bottom with a few stitches. Then cut 2 petals in half leaving a join at the bottom. Position these around the tube and stitch in place when you are happy with the result.

The next stage is trial and error as this gives the final shape of your flower. The petals need to be added one by one, keep checking to see that you like the shape that you are producing. You can hold them together or add a couple of stitches every few petals.

Leaving 5cm free at each end I then tightly wound a 36cm length of florist's wire around the base of the flower. You can rearrange your petals as you do so.

Twist the ends of the wire together to form a short stem. Position the calyx so that it covers the bottom third of the petals and all of the wire stem. The calyx piece needs to be tightly wrapped around the stem. I used a dot of glue to attach the calyx to the petals, then stitched it down the stem. You could also cut a leaf shape from the felt and stitch it to the stem.

That's it! One carnation made. Now all you need to do is decide what to do with it!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Britannica 1951-1953 exhibition

Whilst in London recently I made a special trip to Selfridges to see the Britannica exhibition. It is part of the Jubilee celebrations but I wanted to see it as I love 1950's clothes, the dresses in particular. In February 1951 Vogue produced an issue celebrating post-war British culture and style. They followed this up with two further February issues in 1952 and 1953. These covered the period from the Festival of Britain to the Coronation. The exhibition is based on clothes from these issues.

There are only 7 exhibits but the clothes are fantastic and well worth a look. It is perhaps important to remember that women would have bought some of these outfits as patterns and made the clothes themselves. The millinery is modern and has been made by Stephen Jones to complement the outfits. Obviously they would have been beautifully accessorised at the time as such 1950s outfits were. The exhibits are set up round a central clock; this gives the idea of how a woman may have changed outfits throughout the day, ready for any occasion.

Late day dress with circular skirt.

Beautiful shoulder detail, great corsage.

'Easy to make' wide skirted dress

Detail on dress - crowns and thistles.

Slim suit with curved pockets and back pleated skirt.

Flared coat with deep cape collar.

Silk scarf details, elegantly draped over coat.

Casual outfit - plaid circle skirt and fitted top.

Detail of fitted top and impressive headpiece.

Evening dress with strapless bodice.

Large net bow and feather headpiece.

Close up of beading on the bodice.

Casual outfit for the countryside.

Beautiful sequinned headscarf
It is perhaps important to remember that women would have bought some of these outfits as patterns and made the clothes themselves.