Sunday, May 24, 2015

Liberty of London

The Liberty Shop in London is celabrating 140 years! It was in 1875, that Arthur Lasenby Liberty opened a shop on Regent Street with just three dedicated staff. Arthur borrowed the 2000 pounds from his future father-in-law to finance the purchase of the shop. Sadly Arthur died in 1917 before the shop was fully completed as we see it today.

In the 1890's Liberty produced its first collection of childrenswear based around the illustrations of popular artist Kate Greenaway.

1920 saw the introduction of their famous Tana Lawn fabric. The name comes from Lake Tana in East Africa where the original cotton was grown.

The mock-Tudor building on Great Marlborough Street is constructed from the timbers of two ships, HMS Impregnable and HMS Hindustan. The frontage that still stands is the same length as the Hindustan.

                                                                Happy Birthday Liberty!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mystery of the Five Diamonds Smock-Along!

That's the title of the next SAGA Members Only Smock Along which will start with the first clue- the supply list, preparation and pleating instructions- at the end of May.

The first stitching clue will be posted June 21st.

All this will take place on a special Facebook group page and will also be available in the 'Members Only' area of the SAGA website ( Details on how to join the Facebook group will also be on the website.

This Smock Along will be lead by Barbara Meger who has been smocking since the 1980s and attended her first SAGA seminar in 1984. She wrote several series of articles for Creative Needle magazine and designs and sells smocking kits and supplies through her business, Classic Creations ( She has been teaching smocking classes at SAGA conventions for over twenty years and is excited to bring this class to you via Facebook.

This Smock Along will have some intermediate smocking stitches and be a little more of a challenge-are you up for that? Of course you are!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Appearing in a mailbox soon......

The next issue of SAGANews (Volume 36 Issue 2) is in the mail!

This issue is a bumper one with projects, information on the Valley Forge Retreat and articles on how to grow your chapter, Kids Can Stitch, Chapter Chatter and much more.

This magazine is only available to SAGA members, so if you have not yet renewed your membership please do so so you don't miss out!

The next issue will focus on Wee Care. If you have any projects you want to share then contact me at

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Buttons, buttons, buttons

This month my chapter, Thimbleberry in Connecticut, took another field trip to visit another museum! This time we traveled a little further from home to meet up at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut. The museum covers the history for the city and local area known as The Valley. This area was very industrial, built around the Housatonic River. Waterbury is known as the Brass City and had factories turning out everything from pins to parts for nuclear power stations. There were also tyre manufacturers and who knew Mr. Goodyear sat a desk made from rubber, but looking like black and gilt wood?

Our reason for making the trip was to view the button collection. The collection is housed in a room of its own, with buttons displayed on the walls and in specially made wooden drawers that can be opened by visitors to reveal the hidden treasurers! One hidden treasure not on display at present are four buttons from a coat worn by George Washington, set on a velvet cushion with a box made especially to keep them in. These buttons come with a provenance and were a gift to the museum. A docent was kind enough to go and get these buttons for us to see first hand.

The Mattatuck Museum has 3,000 buttons on permanent display in a special Button Gallery. Buttons of all materials are included in the collection, including some very special engraved buttons from the coat of George Washington! The Button Museum was set up more than 60 years ago by Warren F. Kaynor for the Waterbury Button Company. The collection of some 20,000 buttons contained pieces from not just Waterbury or Connecticut companies but the world. It was given to the Mattatuck Museum in 1999 by the Waterbury Companies (previously the Waterbury Button Company) who have been manufacturing buttons in Waterbury since 1812.

Buttons have played a big part in the history of the city of Waterbury in Connecticut for more than 200 years. The manufacture of buttons, first by hand and then by machine, has been a mainstay of the region's economy since the late 18th century. This is a result of the city having experts in the manufacture of elaborate metal products. Large military contracts and the fashion industry made buttons making an important industry in the area for many companies.

Buttons are like a small piece of artwork. They are made from many varied materials and can be highly decorated either by machine imprinting or hand painting. They reflect history with images of the times on their surfaces and type of use they are designed for. Materials used to make buttons include wood, plastic, jade, bone, shell, metals of all kinds, glass. Each material requires its own skill in manufacturing the perfect button.

Today OGS Technologies in Cheshire, Connecticut is home to The Waterbury Button Company.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Instruction in Smocking

I found this book in great condition in Vintage and Antique Textiles store in Sturbridge,
Massachusetts. It even came with some small smocked samples!

It gives directions on smocking basic stitches with photos and then some more complex patterns you can smock using those stitches.

Just so you know, the book was copyrighted in 1916, but as it was published by Butterick and they are still in business, the copyright is still in effect.

There was also a page torn from another publication 'Home Book of Fashions' from Winter 1914-Easy Smocking for Children's Clothing by Helena Buehler. Helena must have been an avid smocker and writer as she also wrote a booklet called 'Simplified Smocking- The one process method of smocking with a pattern for each design'. A method patented May 30, 1916. I have an original copy of this booklet in my collection, which is how I remembered the name!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Whitework Baby Clothes

Here are a few more photos from my chapter (Thimbleberry) visit to the Wilton Historical Society.
The garments are usually in storage so we were lucky to get to view them up close and personal!

Beautiful feather stitching

Lots of eyelets!

Use of insertion lace.

Ric-rac bodice

                                                              Cute little accessory!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Royal Baby

The newest member of the Royal Family in the UK is a Baby Girl!

The baby arrived earlier today and  weighed 8 lbs 3 ozs.
She is officially the Princess of Cambridge, but your guess is as good as mine as to what her actual name will be! The little Princess is forth in line to the throne.
You can be sure we will see her in some very pretty dresses, some of which I am sure will be smocked. Maybe some matching brother and sister ensembles?

So congratulations to William and Kate and here's to a resurgence in sm
ocking and heirloom sewing!