Vintage style stitching and some mince pies

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I’ve been stitching with some vintage style and in one case, actual vintage fabric recently. First up is this bag, a pattern I’ve wanted to do for a long time from the Cath Kidston book ‘Patch’. It uses tweed, wool and corduroy, with a denim backing and has embroidered ‘quilting’ and initials, in tapestry wool. The tweed, wool and one of the pieces of corduroy was bought for the purpose from my local John Lewis and is absolutely not vintage but feels vintage, if you know what I mean, the rest of the corduroy I used in an effort to try and desperately use up some of my stash, was from my stash and has probably been in there so long you probably could almost call it vintage.

Have you ever had a pattern you’ve been desperate to try for so long, that when you eventually make it, you end up feeling a bit disappointed because you’ve formed this idealised version in your head? Well it was a bit like that for me in this case. I wasn’t totally happy with my fabric choices, notably the corduroy I got from my stash, the colours are wrong, but I needed nine separate fabrics and unfortunately my local John Lewis has recently shrunk it’s fabric selection *booooooooooo*, not that I think they carried that much woollen fabric in the first place, so I had to hit my stash whether I was trying to use it up or not. I think if I were to make this bag again (I’ve actually made two, one (not shown) is to be a Christmas present) and money were no object, I’d hit some of the fabric shops in central London and only proceed when I was absolutely happy with my fabric choice. But I proceeded anyway and then I wasn’t happy with the embroidery (which I’d had to do free hand) or the colours of the tapestry thread. So with all this going on, I was verging on reluctant to sew these bags up (and that second bag that was to be a Christmas gift, I didn’t think the recipient would like it at all – she still may not, she hasn’t got it yet) but I did sew them up, a little while ago now and I’ve been using my bag and guess what? I love it. With the different, mostly wool, fabrics, the bag feels incredibly tactile and I love the deep dark lining I used for the interior (a V&A peacock fabric, a fabric I love but have struggled to use, as the design is in a way too vivid), I love wearing the bag, I love seeing it sit beside me when I take it off, it just feels so vintage, in the same way as those vintage quilts made 100+ years ago, where instead of taking there time and visiting multiple fabric stores to find the perfect fabric combinations, the quilters used what they had, it’s like the bag is going back to one of the roots of ‘true’ patchwork (sweet, totally sort of, off topic story about my parents, when they were dating my dad was going to a night school in a part of London where they still actually made clothes, he would finish his classes for the night and walk back home looking for fabric scraps in the bin bags that would be overflowing with waste fabric, outside the workshops, for my mum’s patchwork). So the bag (at least my bag, like I say I don’t know how the recipient will feel about hers), has turned out to be one of my favourite things I’ve made in ages, from something that I thought was going so badly I was reluctant to finish it! It goes to show the pleasure in using what you’ve got sometimes, if only in part for the project. (Although, as an aside, I’m currently preparing for my 2014 hand patchwork project (I am determined to actually finish my 2013 hand patchwork project actually in 2013, got two rows to go, I will finish it even if only because I’m not letting myself start my next hand patchwork project (which interests me far more) until this one is done) and because I have such a distinct image of what it will look like and because I know I don’t have some of the key fabrics in my stash, I have bought some fat quarters to rectify this, I don’t particularly want that “argh the fabrics aren’t working together” feeling again, even if it worked out for the positive this time).

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Keeping with the vintage vibe (and being thrifty with fabric, using off cuts from the bag project), this is the first of two draught excluders my dad requested for Christmas. This one was made by me (and stuffed with old fabric from my stash that I knew I was never going to use yet at the same time could never part with, so a stash busting project is more ways than one). The second draught excluder was made by Girl Lacer, from the initial drafting of her own pattern, to sewing it up on the sewing machine, with only very little help from me (excuse the bad photos, particularly the snake one, the fabric is actually a lot more green). The fabric for this one actually is vintage.

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And finally mince pies, we’re not mince pie fans in this house but I do like the cranberry mince meat in Nigella’s Christmas, so I made that again, this time even going as far as actually making the pastry by hand to (and it was ridiculously easy and really easy to handle and tasted so much nicer than shop bought). I adapted the recipe, making big ones instead of little ones (as I couldn’t find the right tin) and as I was out of sultanas, I added dried apricots, inspired last night by Mary Berry on the Christmas GBBO. They were delicious.

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