Tag Archive | vintage

Artistry in Alchemy- article by Christen Brown

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

The term gold-work embroidery was originally used to describe a form of decorative embroidery that employed real gold threads in a mixture of surface applications and techniques that use both laid and stitched yarns. The term now is extended to gold-work and metallic thread embroidery and includes all metals: gold (though this proved costly for most industries and was not used much after the 10th century), silver gilt, silver, pewter and copper, and metallic (alloy or synthetic) colored threads and yarns.

These two examples of incredible metal-thread embroidery are part of my vintage purse collection. The handbag I purchased at an estate sale, has copper, green and bronzed colored embroidery threads. The coin purse is mainly copper and silver colors, and I found this on ebay.

The March/April 2008  issue PieceWork Magazine included my article The Glittering World of Metal- Thread Embroidery. I created the project shown below Deco Butterfly, which appears in the magazine and Velvet Bracelet that you can download the directions to from their web site (use the link above and scroll to the bottom of the index).

Velvet Jewelry by Christen Brown

Velvet Jewelry by Christen Brown

Throughout the article they used pictures of the many examples of this fascinating embroidery that I have been collecting over the years.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Stitched Adornments- article by Christen Brown

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Floral embroidery is a descriptive term that was used for both thread embroidery (silk, wool or chenille); and ribbon work flowers (a piece of ribbon or fabric that was stitched with a needle and thread) see the sample on the left. The flowers were arranged in sprays, or as a single bud on men’s waistcoats, ladies gowns, shawls and other accessories. Popular stitches for the embroideries were satin, long and short, and stem. The chain stitch that could also be worked with a tambour needle is often used as the only stitch in the design.

Ribbon work flowers such as aerophane or crepe floral embroidery (used in the late 19th century) had the details of leaves and stems stitched in with thread embroidery. The ribbon, a thin silk gauze or crepe would be cut then gathered with stitches to form each petal of the flower. Narrow silk “China” ribbons were available in shaded colors, and were first used in ribbon work floral embroidery. This narrow silk ribbon could also be threaded into a large eyed needle and stitched into flower shapes (usually a straight stitch) with added silk thread embroidered accents. The combination of ribbon work flowers and silk ribbon embroidery gave the design dimension.

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

The top image is from a satin purse, with the ribbon worked flowers and leaves of stitched chenille. A gift from my husband for my birthday, probably circa early 1900’s. It is incredible in person.

The second image with the whimsical floral vignettes was made, I believe as a sewing or knitting bag, but I use it as a purse, circa 1940’s judging from the fabrics used. Some of the flowers are made with ribbon, some with fabric scraps, some with added felt details. Primitive embroidery and beading were used to enhance the floral sections. I found this lovely treasure on ebay, and I adore it.

Deco Plumeria Ensemble: neck-piece and bracelets

Deco Plumeria by Christen Brown

Deco Plumeria by Christen Brown

The inspiration for this ensemble came from a wonderful group of old “confetti” celluloid buttons from the Deco era found at an antique show in Santa Monica, CA. The colors of the components I chose for this ensemble are so reminiscent of the “barkcloth” curtains of the 1930’s with large images of tropical flowers, that I just had to make a floral venue in which the buttons could reside.

The necklace and first bracelet “Violas and Peas” are made from a base of grosgrain ribbon adorned with individually stitched ribbon worked flowers and leaves, (and pea pods in the case of the bracelet). The second bracelet is made from vintage glass cabs glued to a metal base. The last “Ribbon Bracelet” is a vintage jacquard ribbon covered with vintage Bakelite and celluloid buttons.

I used a variety of ribbons in this ensemble including silk bias, grosgrain, French wire and even a ribbon that was tied to a box of Godiva Chocolates (a Valentines Day gift from my husband). You just never now what may come in handy some day….

Bracelets by Christen Brown

Bracelets by Christen Brown

May you have many hours of Happy  and Joyous Stitching! Christen

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: necklace with vintage buttons

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride by Christen Brown

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride by Christen Brown

“It’s never the wrong time to call on Toad.
Early or late he’s always the same fellow.
Always good-tempered, always glad to see you, always sorry when you go!”
excerpt from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

I really loved the illustrations, the title and the characters of this book. Oddly enough though this happens to be my least favorite ride at Disneyland and my husband and daughter’s favorite ride. I am not sure what comment this makes about us, (perhaps it is the fact that they both deal with chaos better than I), but I still think that it is a wonderful book.

This entire ensemble was created to display the gorgeous black glass buttons, one from the Victorian era, mixed with vintage sterling buttons and new picture buttons Dorothy (for my daughter) and Albert (for my husband) at the top of the picture.

The vintage green glass leaves were made in Japan and the round red glass beads were made in Czechoslovakia. Other beads and charms add a fun color mix which was actually inspired by an old set of bark cloth curtains that my grandmother owned. I wear this with a short sleeved jacket that was made with the bark cloth which also bears the name, “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”.

Bracelets: Toad Greens, Czech It Out, African Stripes

Bracelets: Toad Greens, Check It Out, African Stripes

“Toad Greens” is chock full of vintage glass beads from Japan and Germany. “African Stripes” is made with vintage African Trade beads. The beads in both bracelets were strung on Soft Flex, with crimp beads on the end.

The middle bracelet “Check it Out” is made from the “Chantilly Laced Buttons” pattern using vintage Czech glass and Victorian “mourning” glass buttons with glass seed beads. I had been collecting these buttons for both the necklace, where I used my “Vintage Bling Bling” pattern and this bracelet for many years, and am happy to say they are at home now.

Happy Stitching! Christen