This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful shows us how she turned a family keepsake into a beautiful silk scarf.
I have never really been the kind of person who collects trinkets, hoards keepsakes or has many treasured family heirlooms tucked away in the attic, but now that I have children of my own, I am increasingly aware of the importance of keeping items that will one day tell our family’s story. Our family history is no more, or less, remarkable than that of the next, but it is unique in its detail and its narrative is a gift for future generations to treasure.
That said, I am not naturally predisposed to keeping things that do not serve a practical purpose so I’m trying to think of ways to preserve the memories of events and people without cluttering up my house with boxes that are never opened or with figurines that sit on a shelf and gather dust.
When my mum told me she was in possession of a newspaper published on the day she was born I was immediately inspired to think of ways to release it from its captive state at the bottom of a dusty drawer and to bring the printed material to life once more. After all, what good are treasures or keepsakes if we don’t stop to reflect upon them once in awhile?
My mum was born in England in June 1944, the day after the Normandy Landings when the allied troops invaded northern France, resulting in the decisive allied victory that marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War. The newspaper is only 8 pages long (presumably because of the shortages at the time) but despite this, I felt there was a wealth of material: adverts, news columns, satirical cartoons, movie theater announcements, letters, crosswords…
I decided to take photos of different parts of the paper that caught my eye and although there was no ignoring the obvious war reports and political references, I found I was drawn to aspects of the paper that highlighted regular humanity during wartime. For example, there was an advert for soap which asked the readers to consider, ‘Will he find you as young and lovely when he comes home again?” I also took photos of the date printed on the paper (my mum’s birthday!)
With roughly 100 photos of different parts of the newspaper, I transferred them onto my computer and used Picasa to create a collage of my favorite images. In the collage option in Picasa, you are able to set a custom size so I put in 36” x 36” as I intended on making a silk scarf of these dimensions printed on to one yard of Spoonflower’s beautiful silk crepe de chine.
I then positioned and repositioned the photos I had taken until I was happy with the design. At this point the colors were still their original yellowing newspaper with black text, but using Picasa’s Duo-Tone option under the image processing tab, I was able to select two colors for my print.
Though I tried a few test swatches before printing my yardage, all the color options I chose were within shades of my mum’s favorite colors, to make this scarf really personal for her.
This is beautiful fabric with such a special print that I know the scarf will become a family heirloom. And whilst the original newspaper may soon be returned to the bottom of the drawer and forgotten once more, the scarf will be worn and enjoyed, and will help tell part of our story for generations to come.
I'm an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they're not absolutely perfect. And though I'm no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.