Tatted Medallion Pattern Snowflake Ornament and 1920’s Dress Design

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Welcome to this Friday’s VTNS (Vintage Textile and Needlework Sellers) Fan Freebie!



This tatting pattern is from an article in The American Needlewoman magazine dated April 1924.

The medallion has four rings in the center and eight all around with picots on the outside edge. To me this could easily be a snowflake ornament once stiffened.




Here’s the scanned page of instructions:


To Download the Pattern Page: Right-Click the image and select either “save target as” or “save link as” depending on what browser you are using or simply click on it and save or print.

If you do decide to use this tatting pattern as a snowflake ornament, be sure to read this post on how to stiffen crocheted items, Decorate for Thanksgiving with a Horn of Plenty Crochet Pattern.

On the other side of the page of tatting instructions was an advertisement for mail order sewing patterns. These illustrations give you a glimpse into dress designs in 1924. The descriptions of the dresses are just as interesting and the patterns were only 12¢ each!

The American Needlewoman Magazine Pattern Page - Vintage Crafts and More

The American Needlewoman Magazine Pattern Page Descriptions - Vintage Crafts and More

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How to do Smocking by Hand – Techniques, Stitches and Patterns

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I’ve always admired those pretty smocked heirloom baby dresses and bonnets, but didn’t realize until researching this post that smocking was developed as a way to stretch fabric before elastic was invented.

It was used very commonly on every day, ordinary garments rather than an embellishment for children’s items as we use it today.  This needle art in the middle ages, was used for cuffs, bodices and necklines.

Smocking How to Guide - Vintage Crafts and MoreSmocking is a decorative method of gathering fabric and was developed in England. It was commonly found on the clothing of laborers and farmers because of it’s practicality in making garments fitting and flexible.

For a library of images of 18th and 19th century smocked clothing visit The Museum of English Rural Life.

Nowadays, it’s a wonderful decorative hand or machine embroidery for children’s clothing and the yokes of women’s dresses. Embroidery floss is often used and the width of the fabric required is 3 times the width of the finished piece.

Soft materials, such as voile, chambray, gingham and fine linen are the best fabrics to use for smocking, however, dotted swiss and light weight wools and rayons can also be used.

Using an embroidery thread in a contrasting color gives the prettiest effect, though white on white smocking can give a very rich appearance.

There are an endless variety of designs. Most combine several smocking stitches to carry out the pattern and add complimentary embroidery stitches such as Bullion Rose or Lazy Daisy flowers to enhance the design. The smocking designs are usually worked before the garment is sewn together.

Here’s a link to The Art of Smocking: How To Guide that lists the most frequent stitches used with illustrations and instructions from Tipnut.

Foundation Steps:

Smocking How to Diagrams - Vintage Crafts and More

Smocking How to Foundation Steps - Vintage Crafts and More

Basically, all smocking designs are worked on a foundation of dots. They can be transferred or drawn onto the fabric by hand. Dark materials require use of a light colored tailor’s chalk. In the 1950’s, pleating machines where available for smockers at home.

The most recognized form of smocking is the honeycomb effect. To practice this form of smocking, mark about six rows of dots on a small piece of material. Make the dots a quarter inch apart, and the rows the same distance from one another, placing dot under dot, so the lines run square and true in both directions. The work progresses from the upper left dot across two rows to the right.

Smocking How to Dots - Vintage Crafts and More

Bring the needle up through the upper left dot, keeping knot on wrong side of the fabric. Pick up a few threads under next dot to right, cross needle back to first dot and pick up a few threads under it. Draw together quite tight, and insert needle at second dot again, pointing to corresponding dot in row immediately below.

Sew from this dot to the one to right of it, as before. Insert needle once more in the last dot and bring it up in next dot of first row, directly above. Repeat for length desired. Continue making this pair of rows until the smocking is as wide as desired. You will note that the first dot in the even rows in not used.

Honeycomb Pattern:

Smocking How to Diagram 3 - Vintage Crafts and MoreSmocking How to Honeycomb Pattern - Vintage Crafts and More

I found two YouTube videos that demonstrate visiually a simple smocking stitch to get you started.

How To Do Smocking on Fabric by Rose and Honeycomb Smocking Tutorial

There’s a Smocking Arts Guild of America (SAGA) that offers classes, retreats, newsletters and much more. They have a large online and social media presence.

Christmas Ornament Pattern:

Maggiebsmocks shares a pretty Cable one, Trellis two, a free Christmas Ornament Design pattern here.

2 page PDF file you can download for later.

Smocking How to Guide

The guide is in pdf format so to read it you’ll need the Adobe Reader software on your computer. Most computers come with it, but it is free and can be found here.

Download Instructions: Right-Click the link and select either “save target as” or “save link as” depending on what browser you are using or simply click on it and save or print.

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How to Make a Child’s Robe From a Towel – Fan Freebie

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Welcome to VTNS (Vintage Textile and Needlework Sellers) Fan Freebie Friday!

Today’s Freebie comes from an article printed in a 1955 magazine called Profitable Hobbies.  The articles were written by hobbyists with a good idea they could explain clearly. Most had never written articles before. They just wanted to share their experiences making some extra cash.

Even though the articles were written years ago, many of the ideas in them can be applied today. There is quite a difference in the cost of materials and what you can earn from your item, but the basic instructions haven’t changed.

I have several of these magazines and this article caught my eye because it’s about sewing. The author suggests buying new towels, but if you’re like me, you have several towels in very good condition that could be repurposed as a sweet robe for a child in the family. If you decide to sell them, say at a holiday bazaar, than it’s probably best to buy new.

This robe would be a great two for one. Use it as a beach towel after swimming  and a robe in the hotel room. Less luggage on your summer vacation.

Vintage Crafts and More - How to Make a Kid's Robe From a Towel

The full article is below along with a PDF file you can download for future reference if you’d like.


TERRY TOWELS have moved out of the bathroom into the sewing room. These softly textured cotton towels are easily converted into bath robes for the small fry.

I was intrigued by the idea after seeing my sister-in-law making robes from old bath towels for her children. Even when old material was used, the robes were so clever I could scarcely wait until next day to buy towels to try my hand at fashioning some of my own designs.

Selecting two towels, one a beautiful sun gold color, and the other white, with orchid stripes, I hastened home. In no time at all, and with little expense, I had made two very attractive robes.

To see them was to admire them, and many of my friends and neighbors in Plainview, Texas, asked that I make robes for them. Before realizing it, I was in the bath robe business. A big investment is not necessary but originality and neatness are essential.

Towels of three sizes can be made into robes for three age groups as follows:

  • Average towel, 20 x 40 inches, for age fifteen months to two years.
  • Large towel, 22 x 24 inches, for age three to four years.
  • Extra Large towels, 25 x 46 inches, for age four to five years.

Materials needed for finishing each robe are: 31/2 to four yards of grosgrain ribbon, the same color as the robe it is to be used on, and matching thread. Robes bound in self-color ribbon have a more pleasing look than when contrasting colors are used.

A TOWEL robe can be made in a jiffy because the firmly woven selvage edges and hemmed ends cut the sewing time to a minimum. Only three steps are involved in converting a towel into a robe and are as follows:

First: Determine the correct measurement of the child by folding towel in center, with hemmed edges at the bottom; hold folded edge to shoulder, measure from shoulder to a few inches below the knee, which gives a short-length robe.

Second: In cutting, leave towel folded at center, then fold length-wise to cut the neckline and sleeves. Butterfly sleeves are formed by placing the scissors on the edge of towel at waistline, and cutting a few inches toward the small of back, then curving outward. Unfold towel and split through center to make front opening.

Third: Gather skirt sides even with waist; sew to slit in waist, then seam sides together. Bind front opening, sleeves, and neck with ribbon, leaving loose ends at neck long enough to tie. Stitch ribbon across the waistline gathers, leaving sufficient length for tie.

The terries, vat dyed and guaranteed colorfast, have made their debut into this modern age in exquisite rainbow colors. The lighter tones include such new shades as Malibou coral, Pacific blue, mint green, petal rose, sunshine yellow and heirloom white. While darker shades are. Victorian wine, spice brown, cherry red, charcoal grey and spruce green, in addition to the old favorite shades.

Vintage Crafts and More -  Tot's Robe Cutting Guide

CUTTING GUIDE for towel robe. Dimensions will vary in accordance with size towel used, but all sizes are cut the same way. Inset shows a completed robe.

IN SELECTING towels, I keep in mind colors that will be most suitable for each child. I also watch for the novelty designs, as well as solid colors. The solids are always popular with both the boys and the girls. Many of the solids have border designs that stand out like lovely cameos against the velvety ground.

Robes for boys are attractive when made from the reversible patterns, like the “under-sea” motif of coral. Branches and sea horses. The broad-stripe towels with white background as gay as a carnival, definitely give that “he-man” look to the little boy.

For a little extra trim for a boy’s robe, applique a pair of animal. Figures near the neck, spacing evenly on each side of the front opening.

Robes for girls made from the jacquard patterns of flowers, scrolls and graceful swans are especially attractive. Embroidered borders on the solids give a dainty feminine touch.

After making several robes, one accumulates an assortment of scraps which can be made into artistic trims for the solid color robes. For example, a deep purple robe with a yellow rosette perched on the left shoulder of the “Little Miss” robe will give an exciting look.

To form rosette, merely cut a circle, about two inches in diameter, out of desired color and gather the edges. (The gathered side is used for the right side.) For leaves, cut tube-shape on the fold, sew and turn. Arrange leaves on the opposite side of rosette.

Once you let yourself go “artistically,” so to speak, there is no end to the designs and unusual color combinations that can be worked out.

Create your own patterns for animal designs, practice cutting patterns from paper until you get one that pleases you. If, however, you prefer, you can find many interesting pictures in magazines, from which you can get patterns for designs to use on robes.

A LOCAL needleshop sells my robes on a commission of twenty per cent of the retail price, but I sell more of them from my home.

Throughout the year people buy the robes for birthday gifts, but my best season is Christmas. I keep seasonal colors in stock. The dark shades sell better in the fall and winter, and the pastels in the summer months.

The towels cost me an average of forty-nine cents, eighty-nine cents and $1.29, plus thirty-five cents for the ribbon for each robe. Since so little thread is used, I do not count the cost of it. Finished robes sell for $2, $2.49 and $2.98. The profit on each robe is small, but I make them in my spare time and find that items sell much better if one does not overcharge.

The robes invite hard usage by the preschool children, they are colorful, attractive, and no more trouble to wash than a towel, so are very practical and both mother and child adore them.

Written by Pauline H. Smith, Profitable Hobbies, December 1955

Tots Robe Article PDF

The article is in PDF format so to download it you’ll need the Adobe Reader software on your computer. Most computers come with it, but it is free and can be found here.

Download Instructions: Right-Click the link and select either “save target as” or “save link as” depending on what browser you are using or simply click on it and save or print.