Two days to go before packing and so, before our computer is whisked away and I have to sign off for a while, I just wanted to update you on my summer accessories project. We have a couple of big occasions this summer, our youngest son's final Speech Day at school and our daughter's graduation from university, so I wanted to make some pretty things to use. I am not much of a clothes person really, but accessories....I love. So what do I have to report. Well, first of all... Anna Maria Horner is a total genius. The needlepoint clutch bag is quite simply the prettiest project I have ever worked on and its going to be really lovely.
But before I show you the pics, I decided to do some research into the history of the 'Clutch' Bag. When I think of this accessory, my mind conjures up glamourous images of the 1930's era, with floaty tea dresses, pretty brooches and white lace gloves with buttons on the wrists. I think of rather grand ladies like Wallis Simpson and the Diana Mitford. Here's a photo of two of my great aunt Seppings around that time - see what I mean?
However, what do you think I discovered when I looked on Wikipedia, that modern fountain of all knowledge - infact ladies handbags generally came into being in England around the time of the Industrial revolution. I was completely amazed to discover a charming story about an industrialist and confectionery entrepenuer named Samuel Parkinson from, of all places, Doncaster (my hometown!). Apparently, in 1841 he commissioned a set of travelling cases and trunks, specifically requesting a set of handbags in leather for his wife, including a 'Clutch'. This very first set of luxury hand luggage was produced by H.J. Cave of London and is now on display in the 'Handbag Museum' in Amsterdam. So being rather pleased at this information, I feel totally at ease with the idea that this whole project of making a 'Clutch bag' might just be the beginning of some new ideas.
Anyways, here is how it is going.
As I started to stitch the pinwheels - and I can say that they are not as straightforward as I first thought - but at the same time ... they are addictive. These modern bright colours of anchor wool are soft and delicious and full of summer wishes. It is always hard to work on black and if you get the count wrong its difficult to fudge. I did do a little fudging, but generally you have to unpick and tapestry wool does not take kindly to being unpicked. I did do quite a bit on the first few and wasted a little wool in the begining as it frays when its pulled through the aida fabric. Its not really meant to be used for this - but the effect is stunning. Gradually the coloured wheels built up and I was so delighted with it, I cannot tell you...
At first I wasn't sure about adding in the filling running stitches, but there was no doubt that it needed something as the aida fabric is both rough feeling and a little coarse looking for such a pretty bag. AMH used gold metallic thread in her book, but actually I wanted my bag to be more of a 'day' clutch - being a lunch and afternoon tea girl myself!!!! I chose the violet colour, which is unusual for me - but I have just bought some violet coloured shoes (also unusual for me) and I thought I should try and tie it all in. My mantra for the year of trying to 'use colours' that I wouldn't normally pick, is proving interesting. I don't know why we get so fixated on certain colours and then never look further. All colours are lovely and used in the right combinations they can all shine. Of course my initial instinct was to go for the coral colour, but I thought it might be a bit overpowering and as I have decided that the crocheted edging on the planned accompanying scarf should be violet - it seemed to follow that I should use this here. As it is progressing though -I think its super pretty - what do you think?
I actually think that despite the modern colours, it is going to be truly evocative of the 1930's and being a vintage girl - I just love the whole idea of it. It has also sparked a whole range of ideas that I am busily jotting down in my notebook to work on in the autumn. I think needlepoint has a whole range of possibilities that I didn't even realise and I think the 'clutch' does too. These pinwheels have my head just spinning and that's the great thing about the 'vintage-modern' movement that is going on at the moment - you take the best from days gone by and update it with a fresh new look for today's world.
I'm signing off now for a week or two while we move across the sea back to England. I will have lots to write about once I get my new sewing room set up and oh....did I mention....our new house is not new at all... built in 1825 as a Sunday School .... so I hope you'll join me on our new adventure back in Blighty! See you soon, Ruby x