Lucy Adlington March 2021: Tea Gowns and Dresses of the 1930s

Lynn B started the meeting with a moving book review of Threads of Life, Clare Hunter, which is about how needle and thread have sustained stitchers throughout the ages, with specific examples of how this has maintained memories and morale throughout difficult and often desperate times.  After such a wonderful review I know I, (Val W) for one, will be searching for and reading this book.


You cut a length of thread, knot one end and pull the other end through the eye of a needle you take a piece of fabric and push your needle into one side of the cloth, then pull it out on the other until it reaches the knot. You leave a space. You push your needle back through the fabric and pull it out on the other side. You continue until you have made a line, or a curve, or a wave of stitches. That is all there is: thread, needle, fabric and patterns the thread makes. This is sewing.”

 ‘Threads of Life’ by Clare Hunter who explores embroidery as the chosen method of communication for many great examples of noteworthy people during the course of her writing.

 The book is split into well defined chapters on particular themes which makes it very easy to dip in and out of as the feeling takes you.

Do try it, you won’t be disappointed. There is a copy in our library.

Val then introduced Lucy Adlington of History Wardrobe and her show and tell on Tea Gowns and Tea Time in the 1930’s.  Lucy gave us a splendid talk and showed us some (mostly) original patterns, pieces and garments from throughout that decade and explained how these particular garments reflected their social context and social status during the turbulent decade leading from the relief of peace and settling down after the Great War and the Spanish Flu Epidemic to the build up and commencement of the Second World War http ://

The garments and patterns reflected the streamlining entering the fashion works following the dominance of the art deco movement.  This was typically epitomised in the use of floaty fabrics such as georgettes and chiffons and the mainstream introduction of artificial fabrics such a rayon.  Feminine floral motifs began to dominate, whether printed or embroidered, and the use of bias cut fabrics to allow swirling skirts and dresses that gently enhanced and projected the gentle, delicate, dainty female form that replaced the rail thin androgynous models of the 1920s – such female forms still strictly controlled through, albeit with bralettes and girdles instead of heavy corsets! 

The talk culminated  in Lucy donning a beautiful original 1930s tea gown of sheerest chiffon over a yellow slip and talking through the differences between day gowns of the time and tea gowns – specially donned for that extra special afternoon tea outing with friends, and how tea dresses were often sheerer, floater and a longer length to day dresses, as if to emphasis the floaty ephemeral female ideal being projected at that time.

Along the way we received some splendid nuggets of information about historical fabrics, and I will take her advice and never use rayon hanky!  (Don’t blow your nose on a rayon hanky as the snot slides straight off!)

The afternoon concluded with Val giving our thanks to Lucy for a wonderful show and tell, and wishing all members a safe and happy month until our next meeting.

A Year Passes EYES Members Still Stitching

Hilary G has a go at Tambour Embroidery following last month’s discussion.

Rachel B

Pat C I’m hoping members would like to see my ‘Lockdown Quilt’, finally finished in February 2021 and now with my son and daughter-in-law.   The main blocks are from a pattern in Today’s Quilter but I had to improvise on the outer border and binding having only scraps of fabric left to work with.  This was the result of having purchased a Stripology ruler and excitedly cutting more 2.5 inch strips than I needed for the pattern.  Happy days!

Alison Larkin February 2021: Jane Austen Embroidery

Serendipity, Austen Embroidery and Lady’s Magazine

Following retirement after 30 years of teaching Alison was able to follow her passion of 18th and 19th century embroidery on a full time basis, without the feelings of guilt many of us experience.

Serendipity stepped in in the form of an embroidery pattern discovered in a back copy of a 19th century magazine, The Lady’s Magazine. This spawned an idea for a book and years of research and collaboration with Jennie Batchelor. During this process, and following another personal interest, Alison discovered Jane Austen was an embroiderer and often referred to this in her novels. Thus developed their book Jane Austen Embroidery.

Alison introduced her talk showing artifacts of Georgian Embroidery she has seen in her own studies this enhanced a very detailed and interesting talk about the techniques and materials used in the time of Jane Austen and Alison’s personal discoveries as she researched the book. Alison’s skill extended beyond the research of the book into designing the front cover with embroidery in the style of the time.

For those interested in purchasing Alison’s book and seeing Alison’s other work click on the link below.

Alison Larkin Embroidery – Historical Embroidery in Full-size and Miniature

Hearts, Luggage Tabs, Flying Geese and New Arrivals

Ruth : My January sewing finished project. I made 120 flying geese 0.5″x0.75″. The finished square is 14″

Hearts : Jeanne,Sue and Helen

Luggage Tabs and Rolls undertaken following January Zoom meeting.

Elizabeth talks about her ideas and inspiration:

I have been busy making Suffolk puffs the last few days. It’s making me want to make 2 sets of tags as I can’t always decide what colour scheme to use. I have made last weeks button tag but now want to make a Suffolk puff one.

I have used this style a few years ago. I bought a book on Kantha stitch 5 years ago at Knitting and Stitching and made a sweet picture of poppy and seed heads. I was then hooked on the plain stitching method with a hand stitched quilt in mind. (In my dreams for now!)

I then found on Pinterest Jude Hill – Spirit Cloth and was amazed at her work. I think it imprinted on my mind and with my love of Angie Lewin, then, Anne Brookes starting her vintage courses, here I am finding my own style.

Val has described the stitching she used each week of the challenge to date; week1 is white, week 2 hearts,week 3 fabric strips, week 4 flystitch,week 5 fabricstrips,week 6 buttons.

For those who may have been inspired by the above project this is an ongoing exercise on YouTube. Details and link on January EYES post.

Hilary G welcomes a new grandchild.

Anne Brooke January 2021: For the Love of Stitch

Chairman Val began the meeting by welcoming everyone but pointed out how difficult it was to gauge everyone’s reaction so she would love to have feedback and ideas for how to start the meetings. She then asked Elizabeth and Deborah to share some of their thoughts on how to cope with the next few months. Deborah has really embraced colour during lockdown as a way of keeping up her spirits so watch out for pictures of her activities on the website. To quote her “Grey is out, colour is in”. Elizabeth reminded us of the importance of keeping up our standards and dressing up even for zoom calls and she gave us a lovely foretaste of what was to come by sharing projects she had done on Anne’s workshops in the past.

Anne then began her talk with a reminder that she had spoken to us a few years back and she was clearly impressed with the sales table. We will all be plundering that again as soon as we can! She gave a brief resume of how she started her journey, not in textiles but in art and her love of workshops and experimenting with all things new. Sound familiar? But gradually she started incorporating stitching into her collage work and eventually moved into using fabric. Harold the hare was a highlight with layered fabrics and stitching. She stressed the importance of not always having a plan but allowing the piece to grow naturally. This can be risky, but she insisted it is worth playing and giving yourself freedom to experiment. As a lover of all things Poppy I was fascinated by her 3D poppy head but as she pointed out this was a PHD piece (no not a higher level degree but her name for UFOs -Projects Half Done).

Since her last talk to us she has set herself the challenge of learning new stitching techniques. Not necessarily as a finished product but as a sample to be enjoyed in its own right. This is something many of us find challenging, needing to find a purpose for doing something but maybe lockdown has taught us the importance of doing things just for the fun of it and her strips of fabric on bobbins and miniature books certainly gave plenty of opportunity to experiment and explore stitching.

Anne is left-handed and pointed out that it is often difficult to find demonstrations for left- handed people so she feels she is filling a gap in the market with her videos on You tube. In ‘Sewing for the Soul’ and ‘The love of Stich’ she uses scraps of found fabrics as well as hand dyed fabrics and threads to create exquisite little pieces often incorporating buttons, Suffolk puffs, vintage lace and many stitches you may have forgotten you knew. Her website is full of examples and her You Tube videos are extremely easy to access from there and provide small weekly projects.(Just google Anne Brooke Textile artist) She demonstrates fabric books, a book in a tin, tags and circles of friendship all created using stitch.

Anne spoke of being part of a community of people out there who are stitching and enjoying it and I think we can all relate to that. By the end of the talk I certainly agreed with one of her quotes;“My soul has been fed with needle and thread.”

Links to Anne Brooke’s website below.

Anne Brooke’s website

Anne’s website has links to her You Tube #Sew the Soul and other projects plus the opportunity to join a Zoom workshop coming up soon.

Members’ Work

Susan B

I attach a picture entitled ‘July’.

It is one of a monthly series.

On the border I have used the names for July in the various languages of the UK and a Roman quote about sailing on the ocean. The main part uses Roman mosaics of sea creatures, with a nod to Asissi work, and the bright colours of modern Mediterranean mosaics to depict the mystery of the deep ocean, which is still a great unknown.

It is very simple. It is cross stitch, English star, and back stitch.

Deb D

Val W opened our January Zoom meeting with a discussion about her love of Colour. Deborah D showed these two colourful pieces hand embroidered with spiritual wording.


Diana’s sister has embroidered these napkins ready for a 70th birthday celebration. Everyone is hoping they will be able to meet in person for this important date.

Maggie T ‘You did say you wanted colour’

You did say you wanted colour!  This is my version of the Harry Styles jacket (with a lot of alterations)

Next Zoom meeting Saturday February13th.

Alison Larkin : Serendipity

Christmas 2020

Joyce D.

Hello, a picture of two goldwork projects just finished. They are the initials of my daughter and son. Hoped to get them framed before Christmas but do not think that is going to happen! The C is couched gold jap with silk embroidery thread for flower, leaves and tendrils. Padded leather for the butterfly outlined in a cord. The R is laid cord and small bugle beads.

Lesley R

Here are some of the Christmas cards I have been making.

Happy Christmas everyone

Susan B This Advent Calendar was a kit from Emma’s.

Lyn L

I’m attaching pics of what I’ve been making most recently, although not so much for Christmas itself. Decorations like the cats and dogs attached are but mostly I’ve been making little bears, dogs and cat cuddlies to donate to Womens’ refuges.Merry Christmas

Jackie P

Here are the ornaments I have made for Christmas. The pictures are the front and the patterns, the back


I made these decorations for grandchildren as we usually do decorations together but obviously couldn’t this year. They all have 2020 on the back so they will remember in years to come.

Crocheted Christmas wreath completed in 2019.

Jeanne C ‘A few things made in Lockdown’

Judy’s Christmas makes.

Hilary G Quilted cards and Bunting.

Dorothy has completed this quilt.

Pat C A Mantle Hanger from a pattern by the late Pauline Ineson, and then four beaded Christmas Baubles from Spellbound Beads books. 

Val B

As requested photos of my Christmas Quilt completed recently and the Christmas cards inspired by Jayne’s demonstration last month.

Pat J Lockdown firescreen and embroidered table cloth.

Knitting and stitching self portrait competition.

The challenge was issued a few months ago. In a time when we were unable to come together for our usual live events, they wanted to find another way to keep the craft community inspired with a creative project that would bring everyone together.They received over two-hundred unique entries from crafters of all ages and abilities from around the world. 

I would like to pass on my congratulations to Annette for her inspiring entry. I was interested in her planning, construction and methods that she explained to us in November. I had great fun looking at all the entries seeing the many different techniques, presentations, each one unique.
Annette, I hope you are proud of yourself, I certainly love your work. Well done.

Jennie Rayment December 2020

Jennie, also known as the Calico Queen (UK) or Muslin Mistress (US) told us that whilst doing her son’s paper round she had a chance encounter with a lady who taught patchwork. Jennie was fortunate to have been offered lessons as long as she provided lunch, and bearing in mind she had been in catering business before, this was no hardship.  

Several other chance encounters happened in that she applied to teach evening classes, was accepted and on the back of that, was offered a job on a shopping channel and Quilting Classroom came into being which was broadcast at 8am on a Sunday morning. She says that the producers trusted her as they left her alone on set for 30 minutes whilst she demonstrated her craft.

Jennie continued her talk with a variety of demonstrations, on how to make trumpets, triangles, partial seaming, crackers which then could be used as placemats, posh crackers,  bags, bowls (which could be used as a hat if it snowed), taking 60 deg diamonds to make into a star, bunting, fabric flowers just to mention a few. She has a catch phrase ‘nipping and tucking, twiddling and fiddling, manipulating and manoeuvring material’ which makes me smile everytime I hear it.

Her first book, Tucks Textures and Pleats, written as a result of a dare, established her as the fabric origami expert travelling the world to teach, up until Covid and lockdown.   Several books followed and all contain detailed instructions as to how to make the items as well as humorous stories of events in her life. 

As a result of the lockdown in March, Jennie has written her most recent book, Material Magic which contains instructions as how to fold a square into a flower which she then demonstrated to us.

Jennie’s final story of the afternoon was to tell us that her three grandchildren came to visit just after she moved house three weeks ago, she took them shopping into the local supermarket which has the Post Office attached.   On her shopping list was a bottle of gin for her elderly aunt and to save time she gave the grandchildren the shopping, her payment card and asked them to go and pay for the items whilst she went to the Post Office.    A few minutes later there was a loud ‘We can’t serve them’ and when she went over to find out why, the assistant said the grandchildren ‘Were too young to be served alcohol’.   They are 10 years, 8 years and 6 years!   She is now known in her local area as being an alcoholic as well as being totally nutty.

This was an excellent talk and I have struggled to limit the number of the highlights of the talk as there were so many.  

Maureen B

Jacky’s Woodland Inspirations

image 1, inspired by a walk and sketch in Burton Bushes, Beverely Westwood.  Gustav Klimt did many paintings of woods so wall-hanging was created with his work in mind.

image 2, I woke with this image from a dream really clearly in my head and I tried to reproduce my imaginings

image 3, inspired by a sketch drawn out in a wood, I created my own wood and then turned it into a wall-hanging using strips of cloth for the bark texture and random patterned cloth for the trees.