Sunday, 9 October 2011

Vintage embroidery inspiration

Despite being slightly jaded (hung over) I am all fired up and excited about what I have to show you today.  You may remember a while back I mentioned that my lovely granny had given me a load of her crafty bits that she can no longer use due to her arthritis (poor granny).  Some of these bits were used to make my spotty cushion for my sitting room, but a big stash of something tremendously exciting has been waiting in the lovely folder in the photo above (hand embroidered by my gran, of course...) for the perfect moment for me to photograph for you.  That moment presented itself today when Mr N and the boys were at the swimming pool and baby n was asleep.  So would you like to see what's getting my creative juices flowing?
An amazing collection of vintage embroidery transfers.  Most of these date from the 1930s, with a few from around 1940.  They are so beautiful and I can't believe they're all still pristine and largely unused.  Hooray for granny and her hoarder tendencies!
This little book is dated 1933.
I particularly love this one, which not only has the original transfer (from a magazine, like most of the others) but also a colour picture of how it is supposed to look when it is completed:
I could go on like this for hours, but I'll restrain myself.  Suffice to say, I am raring to get sewing - I find hand sewing so calming and therapeutic and I am so inspired by this lovely lot.  I have so many ideas for what to make with these: squares of white linen with small, single-colour pictures hung as bunting in my sitting room; plain white hankies with little pictures in one corner to give to my female relatives as Christmas presents (if you are, indeed, female and happen to be related to me, please ignore what I've just written there...); lovely embroidered cushions... hmmmm....the possibilities are endless.
And on a completely other note, I wanted to update you on a couple of rather pressing matters: I can confirm that my mattress topper is, quite possibly, the most exciting thing to happen to my bed for a long time (snort); and the tweed cowl...hmmmm...the pattern said it uses two skeins of yarn, but either I am doing something completely wrong, or this is a mistake.  Anyway, I am rejigging it to make something similar with my two skeins and I'll update you when I've managed to create something wearable (it is a very lovely yarn though, that's for sure).
Hope you all had a jolly weekend, wherever you are in the world. x
PS - Just to say 'hello' to my new followers and all you lovely gals who leave me comments - I really, honestly love reading what you have to say and I am so grateful that you stop by to read my ramblings.  I often read your blogs on my phone, which won't let me leave comments, and I just wanted to say that if I am a bit rubbish about commenting it's not because I don't visit, it's because I spend my life running round like a headless chicken and have a memory like a sieve! x


  1. Headless chicken syndrome, oh how I remember those days well when I had little ones. Actually it's still much like that with two young adults and a hubby. :)
    Those lovely hand stitching transfers have me swooning. My sister and I learnt to sew at a very young age, it kept us occupied during long summer holidays and mum sane. Anyway, seeing all those lovely designs has rekindled my interest and reminds me that I have some unfinished work from about 5 years ago I should dig out. Now that I can crochet, I can work the edges too.
    I love your idea of embroidered bunting and white hankies. Bring back the hanky I say and all those lovely other days of old wonderful things.
    Thank you so much for becoming a follower. It's nice to know someone will listen to my ramblings. Have a fab day,
    Anne xx

  2. OH Emily, what a wonderful treasure trove you received form your Gran, you lucky thing. I'm so glad they were given to you so they can be appreciated and used and not thrown out ..............

    I ♥ the Crinoline Lady transfer, it's utterly gorgeous.....I can imagine you're itching to get stitching.
    I love doing a bit of hand embroidery too, slow stitching I like to call it. That may be because I'm very slow at doing it, but like the slow food movement, it takes time, care and effort and the results are sooo worth it.
    Have fun with all those transfers , bunting and embroidered hankies sound wonderful and such a beautiful, personal gift.

    Glad to hear you are enjoying your mattress topper. I'm sure it will be making your dreams even sweeter.........


  3. Those look lovely Emily, you must be so pleased your Gran hung on to them. I'm sure you can't wait to get stitching - I love embroidery and using all those colours, it's very soothing. Have a lovely week. Liz :)

  4. How lovely to have all that 'treasure' from your gran. I have little bits of my nan's sewing bits and bobs and I treasure them too. Don't know if you have tried free machining but its good fun to free machine a transfer.

  5. Yeah, you're a big old rubbish fart face commenter.....oh no, hang on, you are very good at leaving me messages...but I guess that's because you know I know where you live and you are frightened I really might steal your treat scarf. But rest assured I wont steal your scarf. not when there are AMAZING embroidery transfers to pilfer instead!!!

    You are a lucky ducky.


  6. What an amazing gift - I love the idea of bunting on white linen - it will be just beautiful. I am imagining you recovering from your busy days with genteel & relaxing embroidery. It creates a pretty picture doesn't it?

  7. They're gorgeous! I'm so sorry your granny can't embroider anymore but she must be pleased that her patterns have gone to someone who loves them...can't wait to see what you make - off to read about your mattress topper!!

  8. Oh that embroidered folder is just GORGEOUS! Funnily enough I was passed down a box of sewing bits from my husbands family, and at the bottom were a pile of very similar transfers, and I'm hoping to feature them on my own blog! Just looking at them gives me such ideas!
    Anyway, just came across your blog and I'm loving looking through the archives, great work!

  9. Such treasure! It was lovely to seee the transfer photos on your post- I have lots of embroidered pieces from my Grandma & recognise the designs (I also have some of the matching china....) Which are you going to make first?

  10. I love the embroidery transfers - some of them seem eerily familiar!

    Pomona x

  11. Ooh why haven't I thought of reading on my phone, plenty of occassions when sat in a car not wanting to wake Mabel up yet that could be filled with lovely stories!
    Have fixed my commenting issue - hurrah!
    Loving those transfers, am now just gonna go back and see what I have missed,
    Nelly x

  12. I am VERY late joining the party here but I am so very glad to have stopped by. I can totally understand your joy at receiving these vintage embroidery transfers. I have a thing about gardens AND embroidery so this is pretty much my idea of heaven (or one sort of heaven anyway). Maybe you have started something with these transfers since posting? If so I would love to see what you are up to.

    Have a happy week.

  13. Would anyone like to share their Crinoline lady transfers-(copies only!!) I am having a hard time copying some of them that are free to me online.
    Really would appreciate it!