Friday, October 30, 2015

The Humble Applique - Using Scraps for an Elegant Embellishment

 I found this little crop top years ago in a thrift shop. Being an admirer of all varieties of textiles this little top with it's applique figures was most intriguing. This Chinese or Japanese embellished cotton fabric is probably from the 1940's or 1950's. Though piecing and applique have been used in some of the earliest textiles, this particular form was a popular post WWII technique.

 The figures and their clothing are cut-outs and appear to be attached with no more than tiny stitches all around the edges with embroidered details.

The thread pony-tails are a particularly delightful embellishment. 

The figures are engaged in butterfly catching and enticing a cat to play with a ball and string. When I examined it closely it appeared to be re-purposed from something else.

These delightful little children lighting firecrackers and catching butterflies were found on a tablecloth available on ebay. Perhaps a tablecloth is the origin of my red crop top?

Available on Etsy

Available on Etsy

These two vintage tablecloths are another example of the  fine art of applique and embroidery and are available on Etsy.

Simplicity, as well as the other major pattern companies and Mail Order sources as well, printed transfer patterns to help form more uniform shapes. The pansy motif in this very well used 1946 Simplicity pattern was very popular and you can find examples of these motifs on vintage linens of that time period in antique shops or even your grandmother's attic.

This exquisite example of pansies in applique and embroidery is a sleeve to carry ladies hankies. 

But there are no rules when it comes to applique. These ladies hankies with very modern looking motifs are from the 1920's and 1930's. Simple color blocks are used to create wonderful accents. And what an amazingly economical embellishment.

But don't underestimate the creative potential of applique. The delicate hankie, a blouse or apron is no less a ready canvas as the iconic "Poodle Skirt". Whatever you choose, explore the possibilities and make your mark.