Stitching Memories

During my stitching career, I've collected many 'memories & recollections' concerning stitches.  I'm now adding them here (scroll down to view) & including dates where possible.
If you have an earlier recollection, just let me know so I can share your memories here too - just email me at:

Herringbone stitch c.1940s

posted Mar 9, 2013, 6:21 AM by Carol Sydney   [ updated Aug 21, 2013, 4:25 AM ]

Have just been reading a book only to discover herringbone stitch was used in WW II to stitch repairs in BLIMPS !

Some research on the period resulted in my making a stitched book - if you want to see it follow this YouTube link

Crimplene fabric c.1960s

posted Mar 7, 2013, 4:50 AM by Carol Sydney

Yards & yards of it everywhere !

Multi coloured yarns c.1950s

posted Mar 2, 2013, 6:57 AM by Carol Sydney

I remember small balls of children's knitting wools in basic bright colours & also skeins of 6-stranded cotton embroidery yarns. They were so different to the basic colours as they resembled rainbows!

Parachure silk & mapping cloth c. 1940s

posted Feb 25, 2013, 8:22 AM by Carol Sydney

One of my adult students told me about her use of making underwear from parachute fabric & also using unravelled cords for stitching as they too were silk. When she brought in the samples, you could easily see why it was used. Another student brought in some 'mapping cloth' which when boiled several times, produced lovely cotton for stitching on. (Both students gave me some small samples they still had for reference.)

Old recipe for cleaning cottons

posted Feb 23, 2013, 3:24 AM by Carol Sydney

This works very well for a wide range of 100% cotton fabric - providing you test first. I've included here  FULL INSTRUCTIONS & PHOTOS

Fabrics c.19th - 20th century

posted Feb 23, 2013, 3:16 AM by Carol Sydney

I love fabric & always have done - especially its feel, texture, colour & smell. Trouble is, you don't get the same emotive response so much today since so many fabrics are now 'man-made'. For this reason their feel is much smoother - their texture less prominent - their colour bright & vivid but flat - their smell chemical. And this has a knock-on effect on the stitching - look at any old stitched fabric & try to reproduce its stitching on the 'modern equivalent'. And thread has the same problems - needles too!
I've collected some samples over the years - mainly just to look or show students ... if you would like to see them too, look here at SOME OLD FABRIC SAMPLES

Mod fashions & patterns c.1960

posted Feb 23, 2013, 2:56 AM by Carol Sydney   [ updated Feb 23, 2013, 3:00 AM ]

In the 1960s, I made many of my own clothes - mainly to have something different but also because (being still at school) I wasn't able to buy all the clothes I wanted. The first commercial dressmaking pattern I loved was a LeRoy one (will upload it when I find it!) - the designer was the young Barbara Hulanicki who subsequently created Biba. Fashionable magazines of the period included patterns & adaptations ... with my other sewing friends we used to swap ideas. We also frequented boutiques, just to investigate how clothes were made so we could copy the latest trends. I still have some of the magazine pages today - if you're interested , take a look here: HONEY & PETTICOAT.

Sewing machines c.20th century

posted Feb 23, 2013, 2:37 AM by Carol Sydney   [ updated Feb 23, 2013, 2:50 AM ]

Although sewing machines weren't new (c. 18th century) & mainly stitched just STRAIGHT & CHAIN stitches, the invention of the 'swing-arm' machine enabled  many more different types of stitching to be worked. After WW I, the basic STRAIGHT stitch machine gradually became more widely used - both for practical as well as decorative uses. Noteably, the machine started being used more for 'domestic' craft purposes as well as 'machine embroidery' (see sample RUG ATTACHMENT.  After WW II in the UK, as a result of the war & the country's economy, there was adult encouragement to stitch. This was in the form of a wide variety of classes becoming available & sewing machines being readily promoted - some that could now mechanically stitch decorative stitches. 

NDS c.1950

posted Feb 23, 2013, 2:22 AM by Carol Sydney

After WW II in the UK, school pupils were encouraged to stitch with the help of the Needlework Development Scheme (NDS). It included a wide variety of textile crafts - all encouraging use of the main 5 hand-worked stitches: Straight - Cross - Herringbone - Buttonhole - Chain.

Binca mats & bookmarks c.1950

posted Feb 23, 2013, 2:04 AM by Carol Sydney   [ updated Feb 23, 2013, 2:05 AM ]

Stitching along the row of holes in BINCA fabric made mats & bookmarks! The popular & east -to-work stitches were the main 5: Straight - Cross - Herringbone - Buttonhole - Chain

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