I have been rather busy lately playing around with a new little hobby making pretty little Welsh blanket dolls. I still love to make the smaller items such as Welsh blanket hearts and bunting but I am really enjoying making these little Welsh Lady’s. I source the vintage Welsh blankets form local vintage sales, charity shops- (I found a small piece form the 1920s) and good old eBay and never cut up anything unnecessarily. I have even been lucky enough to have been given some blankets from friends and whenever I am given something I try to make something special for them in return, as it makes them smile and that’s what makes the world go around. I try to find out as much as possible from the Welsh woollen Mills the blankets were made and add a little information on a little passport for each doll.
I’ve learnt a few new things along the way, and what do they say? “learn something new every day its good for your braincells”…!!! so lets share my new found knowledge with you.
The Welsh woollen industry was very much part of every Welsh household in the years gone by- Carding(brushing) and spinning wool and cloth weaving were part and parcel of the domestic duties in the Welsh homes. The fulling mill, or pandy, on the bank of a stream, was where the the weavers of the Welsh neighbourhood would wash the wool ready for spinning and weaving on hand looms. Urine! yes Urine! was collected from households to use in part of the washing process apparently it was a good detergent as far as wool was concerned.
The smaller width blankets are usually the older blankets as they have been made on a hand loom and are generally worth more. Sometimes they were sewn together in the middle to create a larger blanket.
In 1850s, the power loom was invented; as a result of this new invention there were woollen mill factories popping up everywhere making blankets, quilts, carthenni (fringed bed toppers), tweeds, and knitting-yarn and you could say there was a “boom” in the Welsh weaving industry for a little while. From these many factories came the beautiful vintage blankets you can find today. My favourite has to be the tapestry style where there is a reversible double weave cloth creating the beautiful tapestry design on both sides. You can see why these beautiful Welsh Blanket’s,were traditionally given as wedding presents and handed down as heirlooms they are superbly designed and weaved.
Unfortunately as with everything it seems that woollen products could be made cheaper else where and the Welsh weaving factories started to decline, among other reasons, but there are still some weaving today making and designing new Welsh blankets. So I think it is important to look after these little Welsh heritage treasures and keep them as heirlooms or refashion them into something else if they are too worn out.
Please don’t cut up anything for the sake of it. Make sure it is completely beyond repair or already has been cut up. There are sites on ebay that sell pieces of Welsh Blanket to make craft projects with. It doesn’t have to be a Welsh blanket anything will do really, an old shrunken woollen jumper or an old bit of fleece blanket, the choice is yours…
There are two ways to make this heart with the stitching showing (FOLLOW B) or without the stitching showing (FOLLOW A). Personally I prefer the stitching showing but you decide??!!
You will need:
Scissors, Small piece of Blanket, Toy filling, Darning needle, Embroidery thread, Heart stencil.
1: A and B Draw around your heart stencil and cut out two heart shapes.
2: A Right sides in pin your heart together remembering to leave a gap to turn inside out and for filling
B: Right sides out pin your heart together remembering to leave a gap for filling.
3: A Sew around the (heart hand sew or sewing machine) remembering to leave a gap for turning right way around and filling.
B: Blanket stitch around the heart remembering to leave a gap for filling.
4: A Turn the heart right side out and fill to give this heart some life.
B: Just fill the heart through the gap.
5: A and B Hand sew to close the gap you used to fill the heart.
6: A and B Choose your ribbon and sew it into place at the centre top of the heart! add a button or two if you want and hang and admire!! You may want to sew the buttons on first (before sewing anything) but I did it last as it made a nice dimple effect in the centre of the heart
I love Welsh Blankets and I have a little collection of my own scattered around the house.They are steeped in Welsh history and an important part of my Welsh heritage. At one point many years ago there were Welsh woollen mills all over Wales. I recently visited a huge collection of Welsh blankets in Ceredigion. Jane Becks shop www.welshblankets.co.uk/ is nestled in the Welsh countryside, I had a very warm welcome and I came away with a cute Welsh Blanket chicken.
I like to think I’ve rescued the blankets from the charity shops or boot sales, which is where I usually find them. Sometimes the blankets are so badly ripped and holey they are beyond repair. These are the only blankets I would take a scissors too and I will up cycle into something else so they can live on a few more years!! Although my latest finds are usually met with Muummm not another blanket!!
I recently found a small (already cut up) piece of Welsh tapestry blanket in a charity shop. I did a bit of research and I discovered it had come from a Woollen Mill in Ceredigion Wales and it was made 100 years ago!!! I up cycled it into two little shawls for rag dolls I’d made.
I have up cycled Welsh blankets into hearts and cushions too. Follow my easy tutorial on Welsh Blanket hearts to make one for yourself or follow my crochet edge Welsh blanket tutorial and give a beautiful finish to a blanket.
I have another crafty love which is crochet. I am a simple crochet lover and have made many beautiful crochet items for my home and for friends. I find it very relaxing and a great thing for me when I’m stressed or feeling low, my brain only has to think about my crochet stitches I am doing, everything else Swirling around in my brain has to wait as I’m so engrossed in my stitches!! I now meet with a group of friends around my kitchen table usually eating too much cake while we crochet.
The pictures are just a few things I have made.
Once I’d mastered a few simple stitches I just had a go at what I fancied. I self taught myself from watching youtube channels and reading simple steps in crochet magazines and I just built up my skills from there. My lovely auntie also showed me some techniques which helped me along the way. I love crochet as its easily transportable too! all I need is my hook and my ball of wool.
There are loads of tutorials out there and you need to find the best one for you. I tend to look at a few different ones showing the same thing to give me an overall idea.
This is a really simple youtube crochet tutorial you can follow to teach yourself the basics. Once you’ve got the basics under your belt move on to the next simple stitch. This tutorial is from momof5daughters.com
I have a larger than large, steadily growing button mountain!! I’m not sure what started my love for all things button shaped but it’s slowly taking over my craft room, along with the fabric and wool. So you will understand my excitement when my friend introduced me to a local ceramic crafter (Gill Bramley Ceramics) who makes ceramic buttons and beautiful ceramic products, and even better, she lives just down the road !!
After I collected my lovely ceramic buttons, It got me thinking about my local “entrepreneurial crafty people” busy in their sheds, craft rooms and garages beavering away, and how important it is for me to try to support them where I can.
This also runs over to local independent shops, businesses and cafés too- But that’s another blog!!!
I admit I buy from my local “big chain” haberdashery and I enjoy wandering aimlessly around them, probably a bit too much if you ask my nearest and dearest! But I love to buy from local crafter’s too where I can. I genuinely appreciate the hard work and passion that goes into just one hand crafted item!!
I hope that by supporting them I do my bit to help boost my local economy and help support local jobs (and in this financial climate a job is precious). I also get some lovely perks too! with some unique and quirky “one off ” items which I much prefer. Quite often I get a better quality item and something that really does last a life time. So… now I don’t feel too bad at all about my button purchase and the fact that I’ve already ordered some more buttons off Gill today. Helenx
I up cycle and recycle as much as I can. I try to think before I throw something away- could it be refashioned into something else?. The more I try to reuse hopefully helps a little in reducing my carbon footprint!
I love Vintage Welsh blankets and the history they have. I remember the woollen smell so vividly when sitting around by Nanas knees as a child. I love the sewing projects out there which use Welsh blankets BUT… I only use blankets that are worn and holey ! and needs a new lease of life. For this project I have a ebay Vintage Welsh blanket find that was cut in two pieces! I’m going to show you how to make a pretty crochet edge. This technique can be applied to any blanket or throw.
Betsy is the much and much more loved family dog. She’s got some issues such as – she doesn’t like dogs, cars, Hoovers, lawn mowers and postmenBut…. She loves people, children, playing, cuddles and cwtches, food and sleeping ! She’s very cute and will try to get a quick sleep on top of any sewing project that I leave around. She also makes a good cookie thief too !!!!