VE Day Vintage Style


This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day, when the Second World War was finally declared over, and to celebrate we are taking a little look at vintage style. This week’s blog post is all about how you can create some key vintage style for yourself as well as learn a little bit about what women were actually wearing during the war. From the Make Do and Mend campaigns run by the government to the utility clothing worn by women working in the factories and on the farms up and down the country.


We’ve got gorgeous vintage patterns on sale here

Currently showing at the Imperial War Museum London is the Fashion on the Ration exhibition, which showcases clothing for both men and women from the relative comfort of autumn of 1939 to the fully rationed days at the end of the war and beyond. Highlighting the creativity of those on the home front, the exhibition gives you a chance to see just how influential that period of innovation during adversity was.


Classic polka dots make for great retro styles

The exhibition not only makes an excellent day out for those who already have a passion for vintage fashion, but it also makes a great introduction to anyone who has never looked closely at clothing from this period – from austerity rationing to changes in female clothing that accompanied their changing roles, there is plenty to be inspired by here.


Aye Aye headscarves in patriotic colours on sale at the Imperial War Museum London shop

But most importantly of all, for the duration of the exhibition you can buy limited edition retro style headscarves made by our very own Melissa from Aye Aye right there! Simple yet so effective – if you are popping up to London to see the exhibition you can get your hands on one right there in the Imperial War Museum shop. And if you’re not, you can come and see us in our little shop and either pick one off the rail or make your own choice of fabric for a more personal take on vintage style.

They may not be flying over the white cliffs, but these birds have a distinctly vintage feel

They may not be flying over the white cliffs, but these birds have a distinctly vintage feel

For those of us wanting to go that little bit further on a quest for vintage style, we can’t quite head back to the forties, but we’ve got a little selection of patterns from the fifties that could work just as well. Retro blouses and shirts can instantly give your outfit an edge, and with a little help from the Internet you could even adapt one to give a more forties feel. And nothing says retro like a good old fashioned style dress. Make them up in contemporary prints for a twist on the vintage theme or go properly retro with fabrics that speak back to an earlier time.

You can't go wrong with a pretty flower and polka dot combo

You can’t go wrong with a pretty flower and polka dot combo for vintage loveliness

 Love vintage? We’d love to see your creations on both Facebook and Instagram – #Emporiafabrics. Show us what you’ve been up to!

The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show


Last Friday Clair and I took a trip to London to one of the craftiest shows going – The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia. Given that it has been a whole month since we ventured off to Germany, we thought we deserved another little outing, so we popped on the slow train and made our way over to one of the biggest gatherings of fabric, wool, and knitting and sewing suppliers in the UK.

Neither of us were sure quite what to expect having never attended one of these kinds of shows before, so we were very pleased by what greeted us: a vast amount of independent sellers, all gathered under one roof and showcasing their very best products. Having made our way into the centre, we found ourselves surrounded by all kinds of innovative crafts, a plethora of wool and fabrics, new and vintage patterns, workshops, craft magazines, sewing machines and basically everything you would need to set yourself up with one crafty obsession or another. It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but it was also very exciting to think that we could spend the whole day indulging ourselves by window shopping (and actually shopping) at the stalls and talking to loads of like minded people.


Alexander Henry designs at Fabrics Galore

There were lots of other independent fabric sellers like us on site, and although lots of them had similar stock to us, there were also loads of different prints for sale too. Sewing cafes, fabric shops, and haberdasheries all had plenty of variety in the prints, including lovely stuff from Michael Miller, Riley Blake, Copenhagen Print Factory and Makower to name a few. We were also delighted to bump into our friend Paul from Fabrics Galore, with whom we spent lots of time on our trip to Germany. He was extremely busy selling lots of crazy and amazing prints by Californian designer Alexander Henry inspired by all kinds of things, including Japanese tattoo designs, half naked cowboys and pictures of the Virgin Mary. His reduced price Liberty was also walking off the shelves as people snapped it up for summer dresses and skirts.

Quite a few other stallholders grabbed our attention as we walk around the site, and many of them were kind enough to let us take some photos and have a chat with us about their products. So, for those of you who didn’t make it to the show over the weekend, here is a little snapshot of some of our favourite makers from the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show.


Fabulous knitty creations from Sincerely Louise

Sincerely Louise is the fabulous lady behind these amazing knitted taxidermy heads. She has not only created the cutest version of a fox stole you could possibly want, but she’s also gone all out in creating a full on knitted tiger rug. Louise herself was manning her stall and showcasing her stunning knitted creations and told us that she very much enjoyed what she did, and was more than happy to share the love of her hand crafted heads with her patterns and kits. Personally we loved the tiny polar bear and hedgehog slippers best of all.


Vintage designs from Sew La Di Da

Gorgeous vintage inspired patterns were on sale from Sew La Di Da, and Clair and I fell completely in love with their beautiful designs. From 1930s style gentlemen’s waistcoats to fifties fashioned full circle skirt dresses with sweetheart necklines, these patterns are simply to die for.

We were really inspired by the clever tools and simple techniques from MiY Patterns, which give people the chance to take measurements and design their own well fitting garments. Ideal for anyone with the confidence to get mathematical with their sewing. Plus, they sold some seriously cool sewing shears necklaces.


Hamilton’s incredible fruit and veg buttons

The most amazing buttons were on sale from Hamilton – these tiny little pieces of haberdashery heaven were made by one lady, using just her own hands and some Fimo. How ridiculously cute/insanely intricate are these cucumber, tomato, strawberry and apple slices? Simply astonishing.


A prize winning horse

Other things that were fascinating to look at were the quilts which were on show from The Quilters Guild, and of course the knitted farm, which featured the most fantastic shire horse, who had won third prize in the knitted farm competition (personally, I think he was robbed and should have come first, but best in show was taken by a turkey), and the Crochet Jungle, where newbies could learn the basics of crochet and contribute to the green fronds that were strewn all around the ceiling.


Beautiful quilts

All this, plus workshops aplenty and the chance to meet Mr X Stitch himself, made for a very inspiring and very exciting day. Now we can’t wait for the next one in September …

Fathers’ Day at Emporia


There’s only a couple of weeks left before you have to come up with some brilliant idea of what you can buy your old man to make him feel special on Fathers’ Day. Buying presents for most men is always an uphill struggle as they claim to want nothing more than to be left alone in the shed with some beer/watch the football with some beer/pretend to be someone from the Lord of the Rings or an SAS type on the X-Box, with some beer etc. But fear not – we have a few tricks up our sleeves to help you give Dad the kind of treats he deserves for putting up with you and your siblings.


You may not think that a crafty shop is the obvious place to buy manly gifts, but you would be wrong. What spectacle wearing father could be disappointed in a delightful glasses case decorated with anchors? Especially if he is a nautical type. We’ve also got notebooks covered with these rather dapper gentlemen – perfect for keeping track of who’s in which round of the World Cup, or taking notes on the beers he likes and doesn’t like from a real ale festival.


For those that want to get crafting and make their dads a present with their own fair hands, look no further than the vintage patterns box. Check out these cool dudes and their funky flares! Make him a full three piece suit if you are feeling adventurous, or just opt for a crazy tie for him to show off at work. There’s nothing dads like more than strutting their stuff in something made by their creative children, especially in the office – although if he work’s somewhere quite conservative, I would steer clear of some of the more adventurous prints, unless he really likes getting attention.

And if all of those look a bit too much like hard work, you could always make him a sophisticated smoking jacket style dressing gown, or what about a snazzy pair of summer pyjama bottoms from some of our funky fabrics.


For dads that like to keep things simple, we have a full range of plain coloured cotton at £6.50 a metre, or there are the subtle dice pattern prints from Makower at £12.00 a metre. And for those that like their music, take a look at the guitar and musical note fabrics from Makower at £11.00 a metre.


And if your dad is one to make a statement with his clothing, no matter what time of day or night, these bright and bold prints of glasses and cameras (Michael Miller), cassette tapes and records (Riley Blake) at £14.00 will make some of the funkiest pyjamas around.


For inspiration on making your own pattern for Fathers’ Day pyjama bottoms, take a look at this link which talks you through the basics of self design. Or you could always simply make up a pattern from a pair he already owns. Either way he is sure to be touched that you wanted to give him something hand made to tell him how fab he really is.

Welcome to Vintage Corner


This week we thought we would share with you the lovely selection of vintage items we have been collecting over the past couple of months. Every now and then some very kind customers pop in and donate various different bits and bobs from the past. Just the other day a lovely lady came in with a beautiful old cotton reel to sit alongside our vintage sewing machine in the window, because she thought it looked like it belonged there. What amazing customers you all are!

So now we have been on the receiving end of these fabulous donations for quite a while, we’ve created our very own vintage corner, where you can get your hands on some truly unique items if retro is what floats your boat.

We’ve got quite a stack of patterns, including those super duper prom dress we showed you a month or so ago, alongside various other designs from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Prices range from £4.00 upwards.


There’s also a collection of various vintage fabrics (see top pic) in funky old school patterns or simple delicate designs. Obviously they are all one offs, so what you see is what you get, but some pieces are large enough to be able to make skirts or dresses from, and if you are into making kids’ clothes or smaller stuff, then there’s plenty to choose from. Prices for the vintage fabrics start from around £5.00 per piece.

And if you don’t want to go to the bother of making anything yourself, Aye Aye do a smashing range of make up bags in vintage fabric, so you can always get yourself one of those instead. The small bags are £6.50 and the larger ones are £8.00.


Those of you who love a rummage will be delighted to take a closer look through the button jars and cotton reel bowl, as there is a multitude of delicious old fashioned designs and colours waiting to be taken home and used in some brand new project. Take a look at these shiny lovelies:


 The buttons are 10p for small, 20p for medium and 30p for large; and the cotton reels are £1.00 each.

And for anyone who loves a bit of retro knitting action, you can get your hands on a pair of some truly retro needles in a variety of sizes, and colours, for a £1.00 too.




Make an Alternative Prom Dress


You may remember back on episode four of the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee the contestants got to make their very own version of a prom dress. Lynda took the title of Garment of the Week for her stunning but simple strapless corseted number and there was a good mix of styles and fabrics all round. Given that the first of the spring bank holidays is under our belt and summer shouldn’t be too far around the corner, we figure now is a great time to think about making alternative prom dresses for the wedding season and for any balls you might be lucky enough to get invited to.

We’ve got a lovely selection of some vintage patterns (£5.00 each), and of course some amazing fabric to go with it, so if you are tempted to create your very own retro inspired alternative prom dress, take a look at these little beauties and see what stunning creation you can come up with.

First up, these three lovelies from the fifties (see above) are perfect for anyone wanting to channel Betty from Mad Men series 1: full skirts, strapless bodices, or sailor collar style necklines will make for some very glamorous dresses indeed. Just beware that the Vogue pattern more than likely contains a million or so pattern pieces – one for experienced sewers only!


Flirty sixties fashions give you the option of maxi dresses for full length coverage or for those more inclined to flash a bit (or a whole lot) of leg, you can opt for the mini. Which do you prefer, Elizabeth Taylor or Jackie O? If only the hairdo came with the pattern … Finally, the patterns from the seventies invite you to go backless or show off some cleavage with a plunging neckline; and for a seriously alternative alternative, throw out the whole concept of the prom dress and make yourself a prom playsuit with this full on funky flared number. Imagine that in super slinky satin – miaow!


To help you out with fabric choices, we’ve got plenty in store as always, but here are a couple of suggestions: yellows and blues are spot on for a spring palette, or you could go for something a little more retro inspired with this pink and purple floral circular pattern, or why not emulate the fashions of city chic with this illustrated multi print. And for those in search of the genuine article,  this piece of navy blue and red vintage fabric would be just the thing for recreating something your gran could have worn to a tea dance – it’s a serious one off though, as we’ve only got five metres of it, for £35.00 altogether.


And if you are still feeling bereft without your weekly dose of dashing Patrick and his cutting commentary, Claudia and her helpful hints on giant bows, and May who does actually seem to know what she’s talking about, why not take a look at some of our new classes coming up soon and we’ll see if we can recreate that Sewing Bee atmosphere, right here in the shop.