:::: MENU ::::
Posts tagged with: Vintage textiles

Thoughts On: Fabric Nostalgia

When I was growing up, I had no idea that the textiles that surrounded me would have the kind of impact that they did.  My childhood home was full of pattern and in the nineties Laura Ashley ruled the roost. In fact, the fabrics of the 1990 collection were so evocative that when I rediscovered the old catalogue in a charity shop, I just had to buy it. Here it is, all swags and tails, festoons and frills.

Laura Ashley Catalogue Cover

I had the prettiest pink bedroom, and I loved it. Mum let me pick out the materials I liked best and put it all together in a handmade bedroom scheme.

Laura Ashley

My gran also had some interesting textiles, there was an amazing bright orange eiderdown, with a swirly print on one side and a plain on the other. I remember being off sick from school with scarlet fever and sitting beneath it eating a bowl of ice cream. In my head it was silky soft- I bet it was something synthetic though, I never knew what happened to it in the intervening years but my memory of it is still so strong.

If you’ve ever watched a British film or drama set in the fifties or sixties you will have probably seen a candy striped sheet, especially prevalent in a working class home. Every time I see one I feel a nostalgia for a time when I didn’t even exist. The sheets lived in the airing cupboard of my first childhood residence, a hangover from the past, and became the preferred floor coverings for D.I.Y days. Whenever I recall them, they are well loved and paint splattered but still standing the test of time. Following one  fortuitous visit to a local charity shop, I am now the proud owner of a double candy striped sheet, plus another found by my mum with a matching pillow case. I imagine these little pieces of history had been sat in someone else’s airing cupboard until such time came for them to be passed on.


Most recently this floral green beauty turned up in an instagram sale and it instantly stirred up warm but vague memories. I can’t remember if this once lived at home with my folks or at Gran’s but I do remember that the duvet version had a small green fern pattern on the back.

As I’m in the midst of getting ready to welcome my own small person into the world, I wonder whether the textiles I’m so fond of will have an impact on their childhood memories . I wonder if my love for the novelty prints from Cath Kidston, the scraps of vintage prints I collect, or the midcentury colourways of Orla Kiely will influence their future design choices. One thing I do know is, that I’ll not be using them as dust sheets – just incase they become tomorrow’s treasures.


My Makes: The Zipped Purse

I have made many a zipped purse in different shapes and sizes, in fact there is a great tutorial for one in The Sewists if you fancy giving it a whirl.

Josephine Perry Zipped Purse

This is one of my favourites, it is made from a vintage fabric I spotted at the Country Living Fair from Calon Company a couple of years ago. The Calon stand is actually one of the best at the show and I always find something great to add to my stash.

I am very fond of the bright orange zip and the print never bores me. When I was working out sizes I made it long enough to accommodate a hairbrush in case of emergency preening. It’s great how versatile these purses are, plus they make a lovely handmade gift that you can personalise to your heart’s content.

My Makes: English Paper Piecing

Whenever anyone asks me about starting to patchwork, I always say that if you don’t start, you won’t finish. I spent years looking at patchwork quilts, touching the different prints, wondering if I’d ever get round to sewing one. Then one fateful day I just did it.

Patchwork Collage

The fabrics come from a variety of sources, some are precious old ones that would have been left languishing in a cupboard if I hadn’t embarked on this project. I think a quilt is a good way to preserve and appreciate the treasured pieces in my stash; enabling them to be useful as well as beautiful.

This patchwork only comes out sporadically (thanks Clueless) and every time I marvel at the colours and the patterns. I love the crinkle sound of the paper and the tiny stitches I have to pop my glasses on to achieve. I have no idea when this project will be completed- but it will, in time and then I will probably start another one because as Mary Poppins said “Well begun is half done.”

My Makes: Piped Cushion

There is something about the look of a piped cushion that makes it appear more complete than any other kind. This was my first attempt at piping so I spent a good while thinking about how it would work.
Such Dotty Piping
You may recognise the fabrics from my drop in seat post, they are for our living/dining space where print on print reigns. I made one piped cushion and the other tucked behind is a straightforward zipped version, it has a bit of a barkcloth like texture which is very tactile.

If you fancy having a go at piping, I found the best guidance in my old seventies sewing books, not only is the advice straightforward but the matchy-matchy styling is something to be seen. There always seems to be great old sewing books in charity shops so do have a look next time you’re out for a mooch.

Adventures in Upholstery: The Drop-In Seat

I was raised in a haven for abandoned junk shop treasures. Mum and dad were always doing something, fixing things up – making do and mending. So it only makes sense that I like to do the same because at home we were doing it before it was trendy, in the days before it was on the telly box.

Not that I mind that everyone seems to be at it these days, it does mean that the internet is packed with great tutorials, courses are plentiful and Pinterest is the best place to discover what’s what.


So, when these beautiful chairs were passed on to me I knew I had to give them a little respect and a touch of my style. In the past I would have just covered over the existing fabric and been entirely satisfied, but this time I stripped it all off (including the ancient stuffing which required me to don some fetching goggles and a mask) and saw the glory of the construction underneath.

I used vintage fabrics and some bamboo cotton batting from my stash. I purchased the foam from a seller on eBay who cut it to the right size. Then I employed a staple gun to get the whole thing to hold together.

If you want to know how to cover a drop-in seat yourself I found this blog especially helpful when I needed to clarify my knowledge.

It took about 90 minutes to do two chairs, and now I want to reupholster every other chair I own.