OK, I’m going to confess. I have an addiction to unfinished embroidery projects. You know, the ones with stamped designs and instructions for finishing them. Sometimes they come in kits with the embroidery floss but often they’ve been opened or the instructions are lost. No problem. I don’t mind choosing my own colors and often finish them to match a particular fabric if I'm making a pillow.

There’s something about the process of doing embroidery that’s very soothing and stress-relieving. Kind of like how petting a cat lowers your blood pressure. I’ve heard several people talk about how it’s gotten them through recovery from an accident or illness and that’s certainly true in my case as well. After my thyroid surgery two years ago, I barely had enough energy to get out of bed most days. I love to read but even that got boring after a while. So embroidery helped my recovery time pass more quickly.

My energy is back to normal, or at least as normal as it will ever be again, but it's still nice to have a stress reliever. Who doesn't need one of those? So, I always have a project or two in the hoops. Lately (since I have several friends who are pregnant), it’s one of the quilt blocks with birds that I make into baby pillows. I won a bunch of these on Ebay a couple of years ago and have been steadily working my way through the pile. Here’s one I’m just finishing up:

bird embroidery design

And here are a couple more in their original state:

bird embroidery design

bird embroidery design

This set was made by Vogart in the 1950s. I love the Vogart designs best, although I've bought a couple of Paragon kits for little girl aprons lately that are going to be really cute when finished. Vogart has the sweetest baby bibs, too, but I'll save them for another post. These bird blocks were sold together to be made into a quilt and I suppose I could do that. But I think they make really cute pillows, too. This is a finished version of the first block above:

bird embroidery design

With a little hunting you should be able to find original to-be-embroidered linens, too. There's always Ebay, but expect to pay a lot for the cutest designs and get into bidding wars with collectors. Or you can design your own project. Sublime Stitching has cool embroidery patterns (and starter kits, too). Pattern Bee sells iron-on embroidery transfers of vintage patterns. Needlecrafter.com has a library of downloadable vintage patterns that you can transfer yourself. And you can always make your own patterns from embroidered things you already own. Embroidery is simple to do (except maybe for French knots) and fun, and once you get started you'll see how easy it is to get hooked.


Rhainnon said...

This is precious! I wish your pics were hosted on flickr so I could make them my favorite to come back to!

I have a 1940's little girls dress with embroidery on it like this.

Carrie said...

Oh, Janet - so sweet! I love this! And you should definitly add these to your flickr!

P.S. It is the day of embroidery posts!

janet said...

The pics have been added to Flickr in a folder titled embroidery projects -


tlc illustration said...

Those are darling. And, I'm sure, addictive. I'll have to *not* try that - too many addictions already (I find that beading does the same thing for me. Soothing, meditative... I love free-form sewing/embroidering with them. As wella s just spending hours fondling and sorting them. :-)

I'm sure you have seen Wee Wonderfuls' blog (weewonderfuls.typepad.com/wee_wonderfuls). She had a post a few ago of stuffed bunnies in aprons that reminded me a bit of your similarly attired monkey. I actually found her through:
www.nutandbee.com/nutblog/ . Her March 31st entry has a photo from Wee Wonderful of the cutest fabric snail I've ever seen... So many creative people out there.

janet said...

Thanks. And I hear you on the beading. I have a big collection of beads from a couple of years ago when I thought I might get into jewelrymaking. I still might.

Yep, that's Hillary at Wee Wonderfuls. She's part of the apron-making group and I think those bunnies were her submission for the same month as my monkey. I've missed a few months here and there when I've been too busy, but she's a regular. Yes, she does very cute things!

~vicki said...

Janet I love these darling Vogart designs you're working on! So lovely..and thanks for the plug too. xox

floresita said...

Those patterns are adorable and your work is lovely! I'd love to see more of those "unfinished designs" finished... :)

Stacy said...

oh dear. I just love these, and are a recent passion of mine. I saw an amazing little girl's dress made from an embroidered pillowcase. As result, I've been hunting for some at garage sales and on e-bay with no luck thus far (so I can make my daughter some cutie-pie dresses out of them). You make the embroidery look so easy and sound so fun - perhaps, I should just embroider them myself!

jessy said...

Hi, I have several unfinished 1950's Vogart blocks listed on e-bay now and they are cheap. I have animals, nursery rhymes (Humpty-Dumpty, Old Mother Cupboard, Little Boy Blue etc... They are all in very nice condition. Check them out user name is jessyntommy. These are very cute when finished wish I had time to do them.

janet said...

Thanks Jessy - I'm going to bid on some of these myself :)