Tagged: Vintage haberdashery

Mar 04

Come to a Craft-Tea Party!



If you’re pushed for a Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday* gift and live in Bath, I can help.

The Craft-Tea Party happens in Green Park Station this Saturday 9th March, 2-5pm. It’s organised by Oxfam Bath and timed to celebrate International Women’s Day (8th March).

Craft-Tea Party poster


I’m running a series of mini-workshops at 2pm, 2.45pm, 3.30pm and 4.15pm (half an hour each) to make a gorgeous flower brooch from upcycled felt. The £5 fee will go entirely to Oxfam as I’m donating my time and materials.

Here’s the felt we’ll be using. It’s lovely thick stuff, culled from endless sweaters, cardigans and scarves gleaned in numberless charity shops then boiled in my washing machine and steam pressed. Yes, a complete labour of love!

Felted garments

Part of the Scrapiana upcycled felt library


And here are samples of some of the loopy brooches we’ll be making. They can be loosely sprawling, dense and tight, single colour, variegated, buttoned or not buttoned, but each holds a charm.

Loopy corsages

Loopy flower brooches


Best of all, these loopy flowers are surprisingly simple and fast to make. They just need a little careful cutting (I have various sizes of scissors for big and little hands) and require a little hand-sewing, though I minimise this for those who find needle-and-thread stressful. I made these (and some other felt flowers) with the Bath WI last week and we had a really fun, highly productive evening. Here’s a write-up from fellow craft blogger and WI member Sue. I’m so glad to have pepped up her week and brought a smile to her face – that means such a lot.

Anyway, £5 isn’t much of an outlay to hit two birds with one stone, donating to the brilliant Oxfam cause and making something for your lovely ma. Better still, bring your mum along and keep her busy close by with some tea and cake (served on vintage crockery, of course) while you make her a surprise. You’ll have to tell her not to peek, but the sumptuous cakes on offer should provide sufficient distraction.  So, here’s how you book a space, to avoid disappointment. Hope to see you there!


PS If you don’t have a mum (and so many of us don’t), do please come make a flower for yourself, or for a lovely female relative or friend whose nurturing spirit you appreciate.


*which, in the UK, falls on 10th March 2013 this year



Dec 27

Stitcher’s Christmas wreath


I hope you’re surviving the festive season intact. Isn’t it a relief when all the busy-ness slows down and you can sense a wonderful stillness?

I can finally show you a vintage haberdashery stitcher’s Christmas wreath which is currently gracing my front door.


A few years ago I put together a wreath on a chef’s theme, but I thought it was about time I created a stitcher’s version. The basic wicker structure was bought years ago and is one of those things which I pull out every year along with the Christmas tree decorations and wonder when I’m finally going to do something with it.

I’ve tied on some of my old mother-of-pearl buttons with tough linen upholstery thread.


And added a frayed old Dean fabric tape measure as a bow; it was once housed in a small round plastic case, but that broke irrevocably a long time ago.


I also wrapped 5 wooden reels with deep red velvet ribbon and tied them on with invisible thread.


Our door is under a slight porch so the wreath doesn’t take the full brunt of the weather (currently driving rain, mostly); I probably wouldn’t hang it outside otherwise as it isn’t really an all-weather creation. It will hopefully be hanging (as all my decorations do) right up to Twelfth Night. Then I will store it as is and haul it out again next year.

Did you make your own wreath this year? Did you use unusual materials? Or upcycled items? Please take a moment and tell me about it.


Aug 09

The latch ladder mender


The Latch Ladder Mender

The Latch Ladder Mender


Here’s a little vintage gizmo I used for the first time at last month’s the Big Mend in Bath. Someone brought a fine-mesh knitted cardigan with a popped seam and a little ladder, so we used this old stocking-repair device to remedy the latter.

It’s a cute little tool – basically a tiny version of rug-making latch-hook – and works well, though using it requires youthfully sharp eyesight and is a little fiddly (opening and closing the latch), but not so hard. I’m sure that, as the packet firmly indicates, practice would make perfect. A small crochet hook would have done the job almost as well.

Ladder mender

Teeny weeny latch hook


See how tiny it is?

Quaintly, the instructions (printed on the brown paper envelope) advise to stretch your stocking repair over an egg-cup. In case you can’t see the pictures, here’s what the packet says:




1. Stretch ladder across eggcup or hand.

2. Insert hook behind end of ladder to catch up last loop.

3. Work needle up and down and pick up dropped stitches.

4. Fasten off last stitch with silk and tie inside stocking.


Got any tips for repairing ladders in knitted garments? Or for mending modern stockings or tights? Have you ever seen one of these old ladder repairers? Or something similar? Do share!




May 25

Jubilee Vintage Fair

I’ll be at Batheaston Primary’s Jubilee Vintage Fair tomorrow, 1-5pm, with my various vintage bits & bobs, buttons and Liberty beads. The organisers have gone to town with the vintage vibe and are promising vintage hairstyling, live music, vintage market & jumble, jubilee crafts, tea & cake, something called “wonderful WI cocktails” (anyone know what they are?), and even classic cars. Not your usual primary school fête at all! Something for everyone, so I hope to see you there.

Jubilee Vintage Fair, Batheaston



Oct 17

Clark’s Scintilla


Superb vintage haberdashery box

Well, lookie here! Isn’t this the most wonderful old box of thread ever?

Scintilla, as all you classical scholars are no doubt aware, is Latin for spark and – by extension – a very small shred or tiny amount, an iota. Think of the scintilla of doubt much beloved by TV defense barristers. Where the heck would courtroom drama be without it?

I have a soft spot for verbose old haberdashery packaging, especially when it uses adjectives such as superb (I think superb should be making a comeback soon – that would be superb). There’s something so charmingly innocent and earnest about the pre-soundbite era, and this box has a differently chunky piece of information on each side – take a look over on Flickr to see the rest. My guess is that this particular package dates back to the first couple of decades of the twentieth century, but if there happens to be a haberdashery-museum curator in the house (especially one who knows a lot about Clark’s), or a typography expert, would you please make yourself known to the management? It would be a joy to hear from you.

From scintilla comes scintillate, v.i. to sparkle, scintillescenta. twinkling, scintillationn. twinkling and the wonderful scintillometern. an instrument which measures the twinkling of stars.

If I had a scintillometer it wouldn’t be registering much activity, the reason being that the determined powers of darkness have conspired to extinguish most of the twinkles in the Scrapiana firmament. I’ve sent out for fresh supplies though. Watch this space.

Large range of colors

Scintllating thread

Meanwhile, forgive my wallowing in some anthemic David Gray, won’t you? And may you shine in all you do this week.




Sep 27

Knitting needle bracelets

Vintage Knitting Needle Bracelet

Vintage knitting needle bracelet

I’ve just popped this onto one of the eye-level shelves in my Etsy store.

My sons call these upcycled bracelets “knit-knacks” which I think is a fantastic name for them. I’ve sold quite a few at fairs and am gearing up to making a new batch for Christmas.

Though the knitting needles need to go through a certain level of abuse to reach their final elegantly curved state, I don’t feel too bad about it because most of them are slightly wonky before I set to work on them. If I find perfect vintage needles, I do tend to sell them on intact. Well, I hope that sets things straight (as it were) with the upcycling authorities.

These ones are made from a particularly nice quality of plastic in shiny cherry-red. There are lots of other colours and thicknesses available so if you’re looking for a particular style, shade or even brand of knitting needle, do enquire and I’ll have a rootle around for you. I’m happy to combine different needles if you’d like to mix and match for a desired effect. You’ll find details of the dimensions of this particular one on the Etsy listing.



May 10

A spot of mending

I’ll be away for a couple of days, doing a spot of housekeeping, tidying, and mending some things that need fixing. Do excuse my absence but rest assured that I’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, here’s a sight for sore eyes: my version of the old TV test card. You can probably tell that I’m a little obsessed by old cards of mending thread. Some of my favourites are tucked in here: the Duldarn lady with her Marcel wave has to be right up there in my top three. Enjoy!

Vintage mending cards


Mar 23

Mum’s the word

If you still haven’t found any goodies for Mother’s Day on 3rd April, I can help.

Ribbon reels

Little ribbon reels in china cup on vintage scarf

Besides these little reels of ribbon oddments, I have others with vintage ric-rac and baker’s twine (that lovely and oh-so-useful striped string from the US). There are vintage brooches, hankies, buttons,  sewing books, Sylko (and other) cotton reels, handmade stitcher’s beeswax, gorgeous textiles and scarves – just to name a few – and pretty Mother’s Day labels to sew into anything you buy. Or not. You could just leave one in the bag with her pretty gift(s) and she’ll get the message. All will be available from my vintage haberdashery stall this Saturday 26th March at the It’s Darling! Spring Fair, Friends’ Meeting House, Bath, 9.30am-5.30pm. Hope to see you there!

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Mar 14

Green shoots

According to those in the know, we’re hurtling at full tilt towards Bath’s big spring event: the It’s Darling! Spring Fair on Saturday 26th March.

Excitingly, this will be It’s Darling!‘s first spring fair, and it takes place in the midst of the Bath in Fashion festival, though happily no ticket is required to get into ID! If you’ve been to the other It’s Darling! Vintage & Handmade Artisan Fairs (note the re-brand), the venue will be roomier this time: the Friends’ Meeting House, just across from the Abbey, past the benches and buskers –  if you can make it past the SF Fudge Factory.

Yes, I’ll be there all day, toting vintage fabrics, old cotton reels, ric-rac, and Mother’s Day treats galore!

Vintage Fabric

Get your spring greens

I’ll have some particular gems for fashionistas too: vintage silk scarves, brooches, buckles, buttons, as well as the odd eiderdown and… well, you’ll have to come along and see for yourself. If you’re planning a full girl’s day out, don’t forget the Marilyn: Hollywood Icon exhibition, just opened at the American Museum. And you could take a peek at the Behind the Scenes expo at the Fashion Museum. Hope to see you then!


Feb 10

Radiant threads

I wanted to show you a recent find. Some 1930s (I think) cotton embroidery threads by the French company Dollfus-Mieg & Co. DMC was established in 1746 and is, astonishingly, still going strong.

DMC Broderie

1930s DMC embroidery thread boxes

Aren’t they glorious? This kind of thing puts a spring in my stride, even when it’s damp and gloomy outside, like today. Most of these boxes no longer have their full complement of 12 skeins. But what’s there is in lovely condition, bright and clean.

Purple threads

Vintage DMC: perfect for a little broderie francaise

The threads are rather fat, and not the kind of thing which would split readily, so I’m wondering what kind of embroidery they would be best suited for. Any ideas?

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