Vintage dreams

25 Nov

I have been embroiled in a project recently (more news soon!) which has involved me delving into the pattern and pattern book stashes of various friends and relatives.

There is something really touching about these paper packets, kept in drawers and sewing boxes for years. The drawings and designs on the fronts are symbolic of the hopes and dreams of the sewer – be it a pretty summer dress for a date, a suit for a job interview,  the perfect wedding dress or baby outfit.

The language used is also tempting: in a wonderfully optimistic postwar edition of Needlework Illustrated, next to a photograph of hands in crocheted gloves lifting a chrysanthemum, reads:

“These flowers, lifted to greet the Sun, typify the spirit of this current issue. Starting with the bouquet on the Cover, a flower theme runs through all the pages- turn them to see how sweetly it is sustained in embroideries, crochet, needlework and fashion.” 

The pristine ones are of course the most tempting to collectors, but I like the ones that have been used – the tissue paper folded back in awkwardly, the packet a little torn, a tea stain on the corner. It suggests that a maker, somewhere, has tried to make their fabric dreams a reality.

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