I don’t know what it is, but lately my brain has been as scattered as the falling leaves. Really. No matter how much I neaten up the leaves, sweep them off the porch, the next thing I know the leaves are scattered all over the place again. Basically, it is:
So many projects….. so little time.
I should really be focusing on wrapping up a last, delayed straw project, pairing up the all too chatty silks and linings for the season’s winter millinery, pinning down the bits and pieces for the upcoming winter sew-alongs floating in my head and finishing up cutting the bits and pieces for the upcoming workshops at the Domestic Skill Symposium.
But, these nifty ideas keep falling out of nowhere. There are all these tastefully distracting “Ooooo, I want to make that”s.
Florence Hartley’s The Ladies’ Hand Book of Fancy Work is a ridiculous level of distraction. (Some of these likely look familiar to 1850s/60 periodical readers.) The book is page after page of projects to make. The book has something for just about everybody. This time of year, I find the slipper patterns too tempting. Who doesn’t want a pair of warm, soft slippers for the winter? (For those who love knitting or crochet, you may find The Lady’s Album of Fancy Work, 1849 additionally interesting.)
Then there are the amazing personally made design books, those women compiled with their own drawings or clippings they have used. They are full of beautiful designs to make. At the same time, they are beautiful in and of themselves. How tempting it would be to make my own book of designs in an early to mid nineteenth century style. Mrs. Watson’s 1824 Book of Designs is full of hand inked designs. The first several appear to be edges that would work for petticoats, chemises and drawers. Some would be nice for kerchiefs, early fichus or personal whites. Her illustrations increase in size as the book continues. She also includes several circular designs and horseshoe-esque shapes. One can only wonder what she was working on.
Similarly, this 1850 book of Embroidery Designs is packed full of pretty embroidery designs. While the author/illustrator is unknown, the shapes of the designs with the occasional outline, give us an idea of what each piece may have been for. I see a few that may have been a fichu, other collar edges. She even has a one that is likely a cap.
This Design Book just wins me over though. Again, the author/illustrator is unknown, as is the date (though there is a clipping pasted in the middle of the book with a male’s name and 1839 date.) It is filled not only with designs for needlework, but also shapes I think were for quilting. The shapes are cut from an assortment of papers. Some are plain with a bit of visual texture to the makeup. Some are printed papers appearing to be periodical publications. Some are handwritten (notice how the words are repeated as though from school?) The cut outs were either for the quilting itself or for the pieces. I am pretty sure I see a couple that make up parts of an album quilt. Wouldn’t it be great to take her shapes and see what they could make??? (I am really puzzled by the clipping with the name/date. That clipping has a pin pricked design on it. Turning the page, there is an additional clipping, also with pin pricking, that has the same name and multiplication problems on it.)
So, this is why I need to not touch my laptop when I am home and have things to do. Too many tempting projects…. too little time.