Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Addition to my Stash

I am sew excited! There was a new addition to my stash yesterday!

One of the women in my French quilting guild (called Patchwork here) handed me a wadded up mass of lace yesterday. She (over 60 years old) found it in the attic, it was most likely leftover from something her mother made.  

Notice, they are black. Old black lace in good condition is so hard to find.

Why, you ask?

Well black was worn when your loved ones died, they were called widow's weeds. For 2 years after your loved one's death you were in mourning. Most ladies did not invest a lot of money into making or buying many different outfits during this time period. This means the outfits they did have were worn constantly. After 2 years of near constant use, well, the black lace did not hold up well.

I have looked for and collected black old laces, but they are few and far between. When I do find them, they are in tatters.  Use? yes.  Maybe the dying techniques used to get the color black.
My two new additions are cotton, machine made and in wonderful shape. I was given 1 1/2 yds of the narrower lace and 2 1/2 yards of the wider lace.

Since I have been collecting, I now have a small box of black laces, come take a tour. It won't take long, I promise.

The first is vintage. I have about 1 yard. It has a couple of small holes in the netting toward the top, but it appears to never have been used. It is 6 inches wide.

I have 2 of these, they were head scarves attached to hats in some way. I pulled out the gathering to wash them when I first got them. One had a hat pin attached still (dead give-away) One is damaged the other is in very nice shape. They are a machine made cotton lace of a very high quality. The netting between the designs is a fine cotton netting.

This is a head scarf. Just beautiful and in very nice condition. I am keeping it in mind for my next (not too soon ,I hope) solemn event.
Lastly, I have a collar. At first I thought it was a type of Battenburg lace (Luxeuil), since it appears from a distance that way.  On closer inspection it is a form of Alençon lace (point d'Alençon) The workwomanship is fantastic and if you notice in the picture there are silk backed embroidered medallions sewn into some of the open spots. Silk does not have a good life span. One of the 3 medallions on this piece, the one that goes to the back is in very bad shape. This collar came from lace bits I bought in Beaune France at a flea market several years ago. I am thinking of framing it someday, or maybe not. If I find the perfect fabric for it, it would become something fun to wear. I would have to remove the silk bits. For now, since I have had no real yardage of usable black lace it has remained in its box.

This ends my tour of my black collection of lace bits. Like I said, it did not take long.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Embellishing a shirt

I was looking for something to sew today. Across the room a yellow shirt was making noises on the sewing table saying, choose me! Please choose me! The shirt is an Eddie Bauer linen shirt that a friend gave me to embellish a little over a year ago. Living in France gives me access to a lot of old lace. Most of the lace was cut off of a garment when it's useful life was over. This means instead of yardage I get what I call bits.
I laid the shirt out on the table and pulled out my boxes of lace bits. I began pulling bits out of the box. Quickly I noticed that bright white worked and the off white or ivory pieces got lost on the shirt. First step done, choose which color laces to use. I laid things out until the shirt began to "speak" to me. It always happens that the garment I am embellishing tells me what to do to it. Sometimes more, sometimes less, and I always know when the item I am embellishing has enough So here are several pictures of my early trials with the shirt.
I just lay things out until I find something I like.
I really like the machine made, modern, Cluny lace I have. You can see it on the picture above. It is about 1.25 inches wide and best of all, I have a whole roll of it. I bought it at a yard sale here in France. When I bought it the woman looked at me in disbelief that I was going to buy the whole roll saying "mieux dans votre cave que la mienne" or better in your basement than mine. What basement? I live on the 4th floor of an apartment building. My "cave" consists of cardboard boxes in my sewing room.
Where to begin? I first tackled the bottom of the sleeves. They were the easiest. I was able to do the pinning using a sleeve presser. Here is the before  and after photo:
Ok, so not really. one is the right sleeve, the other is the left, but you get the idea. The little cotton medallions of flowers are vintage and they came from an antique store in Wisconsin. I picked up a card of them while there in August. I find them every once in a while in France, but they are already cut apart. The card I found was small amounts of yardage wrapped around a card. There was an assortment of 5 different ones.
Here are a couple more pictures as the shirt came together. I like to take pictures since then if I change something and want to go back to a previous idea I can.
You can clearly see some of my collection of lace bits I have to play with.
  I liked this one, but too symmetrical. Something is wrong.
This one is a lot of fun. I love the curves on the left and the straight line look on the right.
It's done! I kept the idea above for part of it and I think it turned out great!
Front View 2

Front View 1
My Friend should be pleased. It is really cute one me, Too bad I don't look good in yellow. I would keep it for myself.




Monday, September 17, 2012

Final Score: Teneriffe maker 4, Me 1.That means I win! Behold the one that worked:
So now I need to find other things to make using the large Teneriffe lace maker. I would like to make one with the darning stitch. I have the thread and the maker on the table and I have been looking hard at the pictures and figuring out how to lace it with thread.

Yesterday I finally got one of my items out of the Biz bucket. Not that it was dirty, it was that even after washing I could still detect the slight patina of mold. I hate mold and I don't want the smell of it amongst my old lace.
I suppose have to back up to explain why I buy these things.

Exhibit A - A badly discolored and broken tablecloth I bought in Paris. Someone had painstakingly removed one of the crochet panels leaving a gaping hole and an unusable table cloth. Besides being a dirt inspired molted brown with a lovely scent of Eau de musty, it was in beautiful shape and best of all, being broken it gave me permission to further "break" it. I like to call it "repurposing".

I removed all of the edging and left the center part intact.  The center design was the pulled thread strip intermixed with the rose crochet. Three weeks later, after multiple changes of water infused with Biz, I had my "Fabric".  What you see above is the after Biz picture.
Exhibit B - Right about that time, I found my inspiration. Isn't it pretty?

I tried this on at Zara (guilty - taking pictures in the changing room) and although cute, it was too short in the waist and it was, well, made with modern materials. It was also $100. My piece formerly known as Moldy Brown cost a fraction of that.

I modified a simple pattern I found so that there was no shoulder seam. I did not want a seam through the beautiful crochet work and as much as possible I wanted it to be one piece.


This has become my favorite go-to piece. The center front and back are modern pieces I picked up at a yard sale. They match the tablecloth perfectly. The waist and around the neck are done with an old heavy weight insertion that I was told later was used to hold underwear around the waist.  You can see the crochet edging, on the bottom and the sleeves, that once went all the way around the table cloth. The front is held together with string loops that attach from one side to a button on the wrong side of the other side of the double edged modern front piece.

Cost? Less than $30. Best of all, I have enough left for a tank top.

Exhibit C - Two views of one of my newest acquisitions. It, like the first one from Paris, is broken.  It has been expertly patched in places and someone added tucks, perhaps to fit a table. Wear says it was once well loved.
Poly Blend Center

Edging/ pulled thread work/Crochet

Dissecting it, I do this a lot, shows that the middle section was added later. judging by the center which is a poly blend piece of garbage (I have no opinion on that part of the table cloth as you can see). The crochet and the thread work areas are hand whip stitched together as is the edging. Later someone added tucks (I removed before washing) by machine, the center poly thing (no opinion) by machine, and the hem was changed, again, by machine.

I have it laying out to see if it wants to be something soon. it is very large and I can easily work around the expertly patched areas. Who knows, I might incorporate them into the design somehow.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I just got back from SMM (Sainte Marie-aux-Mines) for a weekend at the Carrefour Européen du Patchwork in Alsace France.

One of the vendors, oh you need directions? She is easy to find, just follow the smell the mold coming from her booth. You could smell her a row over from where she was located. Really.
She sells old sewing things. She had everything from an old children's toy sewing machine, to lace, buttons and fabric. I found this metallic lace there. No idea what I am going to do with it, but it does need to be "de-mustified" if possible. I will need to do some research on how this is cleaned, if it can be cleaned. I know, worst case is that I hang it and air it out. I bought the 7 meters of it that she had. It was reasonably priced and visions of Christmas danced in my head when I saw it. I have no idea the age, but it is vintage. It has never been used and looks to be in like new condition. I will need to put it somewhere so that I see it as I pass by the sewing area. It needs to remain in the collective creative part of my brain. It is very pretty.

 Alright, back to Teneriffe.
Score: Teneriffe maker 3, Me 0.

The blue thread broke and it was not worth continuing.
I took great pleasure in cutting it out of the Teneriffe maker. I thought it was kind of fun the way it kept it's form. There is something to this thread work that makes it stay in place.

I pulled out my linen thread and tried again.
Score: Teneriffe maker 4, Me 0.

As you can see, the top left hand portion has not been completed. The thread woven part got very tight and I was no longer able to continue without breaking the thread, multiple times I might add. . . Bummer. So close!
I went back to the blue thread and this time decreased the tension of the thread weaving. I think it is going to work.
In the mean time I am thinking hard about why I would need a square Teneriffe piece and I found another picture. I really like it when pieces fall together:
This one is from The Technique of Teneriffe Lace by Alexandra Stillwell, page 14.
SEW, this is how they did those beautiful corners! I find table clothes in second hand stores all the time with beautiful corners and I thought it was just fancy thread pulling. it turns out it is not.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Teneriffe Lace maker

Last week at dinner, a friend of mine gave me a set of two Teneriffe lace makers. She had bought them at a yard sale for 3€. She had no interest in learning how to do it, but she thought I might. After she handed me the two square pin board looking things, she pulled out a photocopy of what these were with a news group website I could join written across the bottom.

How do you use these things? So I went to the news group and although interesting, as well as clearly in French, I do not need to join another group at this time. I am taking a pass for right now. My question remained, how do I use these things. I have two go-to websites for learning lace methods. The first one is out of the University of Arizona


The second one is Antique Pattern Library.  Antique Pattern Library is a project of New Media Arts, Inc. and is a nonprofit organization


Hours of research later I had my books.

From Arizona, The Technique of Teneriffe Lace by Alexandra Stillwell

From Antique Pattern Library I found

1. Dillmont, Th. de, ed. D.M.C. Dentelle Ténériffe, La. Mulhouse, Dollfus Mieg & Cie, [c.1895]

2. Proctor, Booklet of Designs and Instructions for Making Teneriffe and Filet Lace. Viroqua, Wisconsin:

3. Proctor Teneriffe Lace Wheel Co., 1903 Teneriffe Lace Designs and Instructions. Carl & Co., 1904
Paging through the books I found lots of fun ideas, but everything was round. I have a square maker and it is not like I can just drop in to my local Mercerie (store that sells sewing supplies) and buy a round Teneriffe lace maker.

I found this picture in book 3, page 46, and I quote:
"The above is an illustration of a square Teneriffe Lace Medallion and is made the same as the round, for that reason we give no explanation."
Ok, got it. I can do any of the round patterns and use my square makers.
Further reading brought me to book 2 above where directions for using a square start on page 29.
The medieval Torturing device shown aboveis what the book uses for making the square lace pieces.

I have to admit it is handy since it is placed on some sort of pin board and pins are all the way down, flush with the board so that you don't catch your working thread on the pins. It also has multiple sizing. This type also means that a curved needle would be nice to use.

Still in book 2, this is really a fun application using the square lace maker. It looks to use the larger Teneriffe lace maker. What fun!

How am I doing?

With any new technique I always have a lot of questions. Usually I am told I am doing it wrong.

Question: How do you thread the thing? Finally I figured it out with the help of The Technique of Teneriffe Lace by Alexandra Stillwell.

The score became Teneriffe maker - 1, Me - 0

Ugg, I was one off in the wrapping of the threads around all of those pins. You find that out at the very end after dealing with twisting thread and pins that like to grab onto everything and anything. I ripped it all out for round 2. Painstakingly made sure I was at center and tried again. 

Question: What thread do you use?
Answer - It appears not to matter. It depends on what you are putting it on, how you are going to use it and the size. Some books give no information others off hand suggest matching to project
Score Teneriffe maker 2, Me 0.  Why?

Compare me, in blue, with Design No 45 in black and white. My threads are way too close together in comparison to Design No. 45. For my thickness of thread I should be using every 2nd or 3rd nail, not every nail like I used. Well darn. It was very difficult to make the center area. I am going to continue on with it and then do one with less threads.  You know, practice makes perfect.