The Knitting & Stitching Show 2016

On Sunday I went to The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. It’s advertised as ‘The definitive event for anyone with a love of textile based crafts’, so I though, ‘Yep, that’s right up my street!’ and booked tickets. I’d never been before but was really excited about going and I have to say it was jam packed full of women (and a very small number of men!) who were in the same boat.

The event was based within four sections of Ally Pally, with the main hall hosting the majority of stalls selling their wares. In the other sections it was a mixture of stall holders, craft workshops and exhibitions. When we arrived, after quickly scanning the floor plan, we headed straight for the main hall because there was one stall I was determined not to miss. And that was ‘Til the Sun Goes Down. If you’ve never heard of them before they’re a UK based company who sell a mixture of vintage inspired and genuine vintage fabrics, as well as a selection of vintage patterns and their very own vintage inspired range.

1940s dress sewing pattern

Their stall was gorgeous and an absolute treasure trove of vintagey goodness, however, I only ended up buying this beautiful 1940s pattern from them. I was so overwhelmed by the number of stalls available and the huge array of goods on this stall that I just couldn’t decide on anything else. I really, really wish I’d gone back later on and had another look around when it wasn’t so busy.

The fabric behind the pattern, which I’m going to make it in, is a vintage fabric I bought a while ago from a lady who had a humungous stash of fabric and wool she was selling off cheap. You can see just how extraordinarily huge the pile was on my Instagram.

The fabric feels like a cotton crepe, if that’s such a thing, and is black with large brightly coloured tulips all over it. There’s a few areas where the fabric has weakened and ripped but, as there’s about 4 metres of it, I’m sure I’ll get this stunning dress out of it. And if you like this dress pattern why not have a look at Anthea’s newly completed McCall’s 1940s dress that’s very similar?

Blue Toile de Jouy Cotton Fabric

The only piece of fabric I bought (yes, you read that right, only piece!) was this pretty blue Toile de Jouy in blue and white cotton from Higgs & Higgs. I’d actually ordered a sample of this from their website a little while ago but was a little unsure of its weight and drape due to the sample being so small. I spotted it straight away on their absolutely beautiful stall (I think theirs was defintiely the best presented) and had a good feel of it. It was pretty much what I was after so bought 1.5 metres of it.

Lucky Sew and Sew toile lingerie set

And this is the sort of thing I have in mind to make with it! I spotted this oh-so-pretty lingerie set on Etsy by Lucky Sew and Sew a couple of months ago and absolutely fell in love with it. However, it’s not quite my style so I wanted to make my own version rather than buy this. What I’m going to do is a camisole and bloomers that sit more on the high hip and use them for nightwear. I want lots of lace and pink ribbons to create an equally beautiful Marie Antoinette style set.

bag-handles

I bought these 3 unusual shaped bag handles with the intention of crocheting some vintage handbags. I have no idea if they’ll work with any of the 1930s bag patterns I currently have, but I just couldn’t resist them. The stall they were on was Aarti J and they had absolutely loads of haberdashery bits and pieces I’d never seen before. Again, I was so overwhelmed with the amount of stock on offer that I only ended up buying these!

The cute little scissors brooch was from the wonderful scissor manufacturer Ernest Wright. I was gushing over their stall and wanted to buy their huge tailoring scissors, but at £125 I decided to give them a miss and go for the £5 brooch instead!

1930s & 1940s Sears catalogue books

My favourite buy though has to be these two fabulous books that feature pages from Sears Catalogues in the 1930s and 1940s. They are really amazing and the 1930s one has very rapidly become my favourite 1930s fashion book on my bookshelf. I may have to make myself a few pieces from it! Both of them run through the entire decade and you can instantly see the enormous change in style from 1930 to 1939 and from 1940 to 1949. It’s actually quite astounding how different they were at the beginning to the end. Fashion just doesn’t seem to move that quickly anymore.

I bought both of these books from The Old Bookshop, which is based in Enfield, North London, and I could’ve spent an absolute fortune on their stall. I’m an absolute sucker for secondhand books (I never buy new ones!) and they had everything from costume and vintage fashion to dressmaking, knitting, embroidery, photography and much more. If you can’t get to their shop (like me!) then they have a really good selection online, so be sure to check them out.

1930s cape dresses

1930s women's coats

1930s women's Oxford shoes

Here’s just a few of the lovely garments on offer from Sears in the 1930s, aren’t they spectacular? Look at those cape dresses, just $2.98! I’ll take 20 please!! The main image on the coat page is just stunning, that collar is so incredible. And I want those shoes!! I’m desperately looking for a pair of chocolate brown 1930s Oxfords very much like the one at the bottom of the page, but without much success. I love the Claremont ones from Royal Vintage Shoes but they ran out of my size long ago.  🙁

I really enjoyed the Knitting & Stitching Show, however, the stalls weren’t exactly what I had expected. The majority of the fabric stalls were targeted at quilters, not dressmakers and the majority of the yarn stalls sold either DK or chunky wools, it was very hard to find 4plys. I was on the hunt for a bright mustard yellow 4 ply to crochet a long sleeve jumper but, of what was on offer, nothing was quite right. I think I may have found some online now but it would’ve been good to have seen it in person.

Before we rushed off to catch the coach home, we made sure we swung by the Lutterloh System stall. We’d been told by the lady who sat with us at lunch that they were doing a presentation about how it worked and I was really interested to see how it differed from the French version that’s used by Mrs Depew patterns.

I think the guy doing the presentation, who was the original inventor’s grandson, took a bit of a shine to me! He asked me to be his model during the presentation and created a waistcoat pattern to my size. It was highly embarrassing but afterwards he told me I was the best dressed lady at the whole event, so I went home with a big smile on my face!

And if you do use the Lutterloh System, then you may be interested to know that they are planning to re-release some of the original patterns from the 1930s and onwards. I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for those, all I’d need is the measuring tape that goes with it.

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

16 Comments

  1. I used to go to that event with work back when I was on a knitting magazine – it used to be soooo frustrating having to spend all day on a stall when there were so many nice ones to look at, though I did always find the displays really inspiring too. (It was always more for the ‘decorative’ stitcher than the clothing maker in the past, though I’d have expected more dressmaking stuff there now as that’s picked up so much in recent years.)

    For interesting wools, you’re probably best off going to a dedicated knitting event. I think Fibre East will be your nearest. You’ll find amazing fibres in 4ply at that sort of event.

    • Yes, I was very surprised that there wasn’t more dressmaking fabrics. There were a few but most were an absolute mess and impossible to go through, there were tons of huge bails of fabric literally thrown on top of each other. The only two that had an kind of organisation were Til the Sun Goes Down and Girl Charlee. Such a shame, it could’ve been a lot better. xx

  2. So much pretty stuff. I’m such a vintage addict I hate modern underwear and never know what to do for undies

    • I’m the same, I even find What Katie Did a bit of a struggle as their sizing and quality is all over the place. xx

  3. I sometimes get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of goods on offer when visiting vintage fairs, so I definitely understand what you mean. The Toile de Jouy is lovely, and so are those gorgeous bag handle. The books are amazing, and I’m sure you will be spending quite a few happy hours browsing them .. xxx

    • Oh, I’m glad it’s not just me! I did it the first time I went to Tiffany’s in New York. I was determined to buy something, went to their silver section and was so overwhelmed by everything that I ended up buying nothing. I was so mad at myself once I’d returned back to the UK. Thankfully I got to go again a few years later and made sure I treated myself. xx

  4. It sounds like your perfect day out! I can imagine it was easy to feel overwhelmed with all the possibilties in front of you… I think that’s sweet how you got to be a model too, what fun x

    • My problem with these sorts of thing is that I don’t want to spend all my money at the start and then find something right at the end and not be able to afford it! I really must learn to pace myself better. xx

  5. What marvelous finds! I love those bag handles..a lot and the 1930s and 1940s sears books..score! I have some myself and they are such wonderful pieces for inspiration.

    • They’re fabulous aren’t they? There’s so much inspiration in them, I want it all! If only everything was available today at those prices. xx

  6. Sounds like a great day out , am loving those books and the bag handles are lovely , look forward to seeing get the finished bags.
    The bloomer pj’s sound amazing , hope to see these too , the fabric is so pretty with a lacy trim will look fab !

    • I really hope the bloomers work out how I have them in my head. Strangley, it’s nothing I’ve ever made before! 🙂 xx

  7. Great finds! I would love to browse through those Sears catalogues for inspiration. I “suffer” from the same shopping freeze problem. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by all the good(ie)s on offer, I end up buying nothing (which I totally regret afterwards, when it’s too late to return to the shop/stall). On the plus side: it’s a great way to save money

    • Hehehe! Yes, that’s definitely a plus side. I’m glad it’s not just me though, I though I was the only one that did this. Everyone else at the show was walking off with bags and bags of goodies. xx

  8. Some really lovely finds there. I have a couple of those Sears books and they are marvellous for inspiration aren’t they!? They make me wish that I could shop from them too. I hope Till the Sun Goes Down has a stall at the Harrogate show, I would like to see their stuff. The stall holders differ a bit between the various show locations though some are the same. I’m looking forward to it.

    • Til the Sun Goes down was probably my favourite stand of the whole fair, which is understandable really. The lady who runs it was very lovely and we had a good old chat. I do hope you get to meet her too! xx

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