Monday, 29 October 2012

Crochet In Fashion

Before starting my Etsy shop and my blog, I had no idea how popular crochet was these days. I thought it was only me who liked it. The most popular items in my shop have been crocheted glove patterns and crocheted cushion and pillow cases. Most of the people who favourite this glove pattern can't crochet, but wish they could!

This gorgeous pattern for filet crochet gloves was published in the 40s, and everyone seems to love it.  No doubt, some people have weddings in mind, too.







Jennifer Lopez in Crochet

Did you see Jennifer Lopez in her fabulous white crochet shorts and crop top earlier this year? Take a look.

She looks wonderful in the white crochet with her enviable tan and great body. It made me wish I had the pattern for this outfit (as well as the body and the tan!) Not everyone could wear white so well, and it would be interesting to see this outfit in different colours. It made me think to look back in some of the old books from the 70s when crochet was really hip, to see if I could find anything similar. Sadly, I have not yet found a pattern for shorts - although I do have quite a few patterns for knitted knickers (scanties) from the 30s and 40s which could do in a pinch.

However, I did find these fabulous patterns which I thought I would share.

Daring, no knickers please skirt

Flower Power Crochet

Patons jumpsuit, late 70s

 Look at this gorgeous dress, I can see it being worn today. You can't see in the poor quality image, but she is also wearing white fish net stockings. Fabulous.
Woman's Day, 1968

New Idea, 1976

And here is one of my all time favourites, the sun top with optional sunhat crown. I always meant to make it and never did.

So, the gear, the cushion covers and the pillow cases are super popular. Now, bring on the doiley revival!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The 1920s - Wearing a Lace Front

Filet crochet lace was very popular in the 1920s. We're not talking about the Flappers so much here, but in mainstream women's fashion. The Flappers get all the press these days, but as far as I can find out, most young women weren't Flappers.

Many women wore beautiful filet crochet over blouses. Sometimes these tied at the sides over a blouse, sometimes they buttoned. This garment is sometimes called a sweater.

Filet lace over blouse and dressing jacket.

I was quite fascinated to see garments which were simply described as a "front". The garment below appears to just slip on over the head, presumably over a blouse


This next garment is also described as a front. It looks to me like a vest or under garment, but I guess it may have been worn over a blouse.
I don't suppose there are many elderly women left who could tell us about this. I would place my bets on underwear for this last one.
Here are two more filet lace over blouses.

This one has attractive side button fastening.

This one has a matching hat band!
What do you think about the "front"? Please add your comment and let me know.

About 30 years ago I made myself a filet lace short sleeved top for the summer in cotton, with a floral motif front and back. I really liked it, but it was a bit tight for me, so as the years wore on, I stopped wearing it very much, but I kept it because it was pretty, and because I had made it. About five years ago my then 20 year old daughter claimed it, and she is still wearing it. I will try to get a photo of it from her.

The photos are from "The Newest Knitted and Filet Crocheted Sweaters", series no.16, by Mary E. Fitch, published in the USA sometime in the 1920s.
And also "Desirable Designs in Crochet and Knitting," by Ella Allan, 1922, St Kilda (Mellbourne)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Practical Considerations - Dress Shields

My mother has shared with me a wonderfully useful handy hint from the 1950s. If you have jumpers, jackets or dresses in wool and other fabrics that you don't want to be laundering every time you wear them, you need to get some dress shields. These are little circular pieces of fabric of several thicknesses. You fold them in half and sew press studs on the under side of each half. Then you sew the corresponding half of the press stud onto the inside of the garment at the underarm. After you've worn the garment, you only need to launder the dress shield. (Unless you spill coffee down the front of yourself!)

I have used dress shields successfully with the jacket of a woollen suit, and I am planning to make some for my next vintage jumper creation. They are easy to make yourself. You only need to cut out two or three thicknesses of fabric -  flannellette works well. Sew them all together with the zig zag stitch around the perimeter, and attach the press studs. Voila! Protection for your precious garments.

Cypress - Can you spot the dress shileds?
Who knew? I just did a Google search, and not only can you buy dress shields, otherwise known as underarm liners (yuck!), you can buy re-usable or disposable ones. What a  long way we've come. I've never seen them in shops, but they are certainly available online. I plan to try out the stick on ones.

P.S. - 3rd February, 2013 - I found this fabulous ad in an old Vogue knitting book and had to share it:

So, yes ladies, keep your knitteds nice!

Friday, 12 October 2012

To copy or not to copy

VintageKnitPatterns Shop

I've noticed that some vendors, particularly on e-Bay, turn up their noses at the suggestion of copies of knitting books.

As a collector, I'm not interested in purchasing copies.

However, as a knitter of vintage fashions, I would jump at the chance of purchasing a cheap copy of a single pattern I wanted, rather than pay three or four times the price for an original book. So, I consider providing copies a service to knitters.

I've also noticed that some non-knitters are purchasing copies of patterns, and paying knitters to make them. If only I had time to knit on commission. My most interesting request for a custom made item has been to crochet chain mail for a battle re-enactment! There's work out there for some crafty retired people. If you want this work, send me your contact details and I'm happy to pass on any requests which come to me, and which I regretfully have to decline.

Bed socks

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Doiley Revival!

I have decided that I am spearheading the doiley revival!
Doileys have had some bad press over the last few years. Minimalism has seen them eliminated from stylish homes. Well, I love moderation. We don't have to go back to the cluttered doiley overload of the 80s.

What has this got to do with knitting and fashion?, you might say. Well, I also love crochet, and have a huge admiration for needlecrafts in general . One of my most prized books is the 1885 "Young Ladies' Journal Complete Guide to the Work-Table" (1885; London). It shows you how to do all kinds of almost obsolete arts, such as netting, Guipure lace making, Berlin work and loads of others. I love to browse antique stores that deal with old linen and lace. I admire the time and skill women put into their "fancy work".

Instructions for making Guipure lace.
 A really interesting book to read for those interested in women's handcrafts in Australia over the last 200 years is "The Gentle Arts: 200 Years of Australian Women's Domestic and Decorative Arts," by Jennifer Isaacs. ( 1987, Willoughby; Lansdowne Press). It's a lavishly illustrated work, in which the author looks at the various categories of "plain and fancy work". Some impressive examples of Australian women's work are pictured.

So, I have discovered that a restrained use of well chosen doileys blends well with my ethnic inspired decor.
Point Lace, and bobbin lace making

Monday, 1 October 2012

It's such a shame that people don't knit much these days. The reasons for this include cheap textiles being available in the shops, but also that women don't have time to knit, and they don't have time to hand wash woollies. Let's face it, most women work outside the home and don't have the time or the inclination for such domestic chores. Also, wool is so expensive. At about $7.00 per ball for good quality wool, a garment is expensive in both time and money. So why learn to knit these days?

This is why I knit.
  1. It's relaxing. There's something about the rhythm of it that's soothing. I also like to have a pattern to keep me from getting bored. I like to knit with fine wools of good quality. I have to have the TV on.
  2. Garments are individual and unique. Nobody will have one like the one you make these days.
  3. It stops me biting my nails.
  4. It stops me raiding the fridge.
  5. It provides me with lovely gifts for friends who've had babies.
  6. I love the vintage patterns, and you just can't buy garments in the shops like them.
  7. People are impressed that I've made things myself.
  8. My daughter has taken up knitting .
  9. My daughter's friend took up knitting after receiving a hand knitted baby jumper from her.
I have recently taken up knitting again after many years of being too busy.
Valley Heights - 1940s
Anyone can knit. Even men !