Tagged: strawberry emery

Jun 23

Thanks for the emeries

‘The Strawberry Emery is nothing new, but it is so very useful and easy of construction, there is no reason why every needleworker should not possess one. Woolen goods represent the fuzzy nature of the strawberry better than silk or …’

Home Needlework Magazine, Volume 4, 1902.

Tantalizingly, that’s all I can make out of it on Google books, though I’m grateful for that glimpse (who knew that ‘fuzzy’ was such an old word?). As proof of the relatively long history of strawberry emeries, even from the Edwardian vantage point, here’s an earlier reference from 1852 when they were already well established (pick it up from near the bottom of the first column, at ‘Knitted Berries and Fruit’):

From Godey’s Magazine & Lady’s Book, Volume 45, 1852.

And in the same volume was this which I felt compelled to share.

Still my beating heart! How lingerie has changed, even if the content of crafting magazines doesn’t appear to have altered as much as one might have thought! I don’t expect to be seeing sheet music (a staple in Victorian women’s magazines) in Mollie Makes any time soon though. I love that the strawberry emery has such a long history and is now (I hope) enjoying a well-deserved resurgence in popularity. Do you think we can do the same for the saucy little sick-room cap?



Jun 22

Fancy goods


Taken from The Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, 1850 (courtesy of Google Books).

Comments Off on Fancy goods

Jun 13

scrap of the week #14

I haven’t posted any scraps lately, so here’s a nice one for you.

If you’ve seen this month’s Mollie Makes, you may recognise this fabric.

Strawberry floral

Fabric fit for a strawberry

It’s a lightweight cotton I used for one of my favourite strawberries. This is an unmarked oddment: there’s no text on the selvedge. I used most of it for a dress I made c.1980. The dress pattern was high Laura Ashley (by McCall’s, I think) with square neckline, buttoned leg-o-mutton sleeves, gathered slightly drop-waisted skirt (ending mid-calf length) and sash, though I wore it loose-fitting without. That dress was the first piece of clothing I remember making and actually enjoying wearing. I was so proud of myself, but what was I thinking? Must have watched too much Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. However, it was comfortable, washable, and easy to wear. I think this fabric has finally found its true destiny in strawberries, though. I love the ruby shade of red. If you happen to have any old Sylko cotton reels, it matches D.46 Ruby very well. On the purplish berry end of the red spectrum.

I may still have that Laura Ashley pattern somewhere, though I can’t immediately lay my hands on it [phew!]. Nor do I have any pictures of myself wearing it [phew again]. A quick trawl of  the Vintage Patterns Wiki hasn’t located the pattern either, so if you think you know the one I mean — and maybe have it still — I’d love to hear from you!

And now I’m making up Vintage Strawberry Kits, some of which will include pieces of this fabric. I can tell you’re excited…




May 26

Good golly, miss mollie!

After the longest quest to find a copy of my holy grail – aka Mollie Makes I finally tracked her down. Good to discover that the magazine is produced to a convenient bag-friendly size (like) with stroke-hungry matt paper (like) and with a really wonderful informing eye (like, like). But my eyes popped out on stalks when I spotted this near the back of the mag.

Mollie Makes, Issue 2

Mollie Makes... vintage strawberries

Good golly! Those are my vintage strawberries! OK, this wasn’t altogether a surprise as I had been commissioned in the conventional way. But seeing the final product – well, almost the final product – is a new and intoxicating experience for me.  I’m awash with conflicting emotions; like a parent watching their child hash dialogue in their first school production, I simultaneously glow with pride and squirm at the less-than-perfect qualities of the execution. That embroidery…! I know, I know. I only threw it in as an afterthought. Still, they are my babies alright, and I’m happy to see them out in the big wide world.

So, Mollie Makes issue 2 carries a how-to (also by yours truly) on making your own vintage strawberry emeries. Historically, when needles were expensive, emeries were necessary to condition, sharpen and de-rust them. Now emeries are mainly for fun, though you can use them for their originally intended purpose if you like. They are quite straightforward to make, once you know how. Create them fatter, thinner, bigger, smaller, quirkily topped or not. I guarantee that they are addictive, though: make one and you’ll soon be tinkering with another.

True to my philosophy, most of those fabrics are genuinely vintage and/or scrap. For example, the red one with ditsy white flowers over there on the right was a leftover from a dress I made when I was 16 (that’s almost 30 years ago, folks – and  no, I don’t ever throw anything away, obviously).

To celebrate this happy event, I’m arranging a series of Vintage Strawberry Workshops to coincide with the publication of issue 2 (from 9th June onwards).  If you happen to run a craft boutique or making establishment, do get in touch for booking details. Have Stitchmobile, will travel!

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