Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meet the stallholders: 60 seconds with.....Eiryls from Scrapiana

Eirlys Penn lives in Bath and sells vintage haberdashery (Sylko cotton reels, cards of old buttons, bias binding, zips etc), some vintage household linens, and related handmade lovelies such as pincushions. Eiryls is a professional writer too which you can see from her beautifully worded interview. Naturally she blogs - hers is called “Scrapiana” which is the same name as her work.

1, Hi Eirlys, how long have you been doing what you do?
Scrapiana is, ironically, brand spanking new!  Before that (and on the margin of it still) I'm a writer; I can be also be found at

2. When did you first fall in love with haberdashery? 
My passion for collecting vintage threads, buttons etc began many years ago. I adore old sewing items, probably because of that archetypal knee-high experience of sifting through my mother's sewing box; I can still visualise the red satin strawberry emery she used to sharpen her needles, and I loved the solid weight of the old wooden cotton reels, and their fabulous typography. The deep shine of an old mother-of-pearl button or buckle still takes my breath away. But there comes a time in every button- glutton's life when they need to de-stash. Or start a museum. So selling Scrapiana vintage haberdashery was the next logical step. I've also begun hiring out items to a craft publisher, which is a terrible encouragement to my inner magpie.

A selection of feedsack patchwork shapes that
were cut by Eiryls' grandmother in the Great Depression.

 3. What's the ethos behind what you do?
I hope to save these beautiful, old, often overlooked items from the oblivion of landfill; not just sewing-related things, but other items which can be turned to new account: for instance, I make up bias binding from old clothing (I'm making up some lovely stuff at the moment from an old Liberty lawn skirt with an unfortunate, indelible ink stain which makes it unwearable), and laundry and gift bags from old sheeting. Most things can be re-used, and the challenge if figuring out how. Even half a diamante buckle (with the odd stone missing) can become a beautiful necklace just by adding a length of ribbon.

4. Why did you want to be part of "It's darling!"? 
Vintage and handmade are my twin interests so when they came packaged up together and tied in a big pink bow by "It's darling!" I didn't have to think long at all.

A tomato pin cushion

5. Any personal details you care to share? Partner, kids, hobbies, guilty pleasures?
I have a husband and two sons who just about tolerate my magpie tendencies. My career is so chequered it makes gingham look plain; I've been a book publicist, a waste campaigner (well, anti-waste campaigner), a writer, and also trained in soft furnishings. My guilty pleasures include chilli-chocolate, charity-shopping, browsing in second-hand bookshops, singing (not well!), hanging laundry on the line (I know, I should be ashamed. It's the old clothes pegs, you see), late-night tandem-cycling beside the Kennet & Avon canal, and smelling roses in other people's gardens. What a hell-raiser!

 6. Will you be offering any special offers at It's Darling and if so what? 
A free beeswax thread-saver with every purchase over £10.

Eiryls is a self-confessed "Button-Glutton." These are just for starters.

7. What's your piece of "three second wisdom" - life or crafting advice! 
Measure once, measure twice, measure once again, and only THEN cut!

"My guilty pleasures include  hanging laundry on the line (I know, I should be ashamed. It's the old clothes pegs, you see). 
What a hell-raiser!"
Don't worry, we all succumb to airing our dirty laundry in public at some point Eiryls.

8. What three things would you want to be stranded with on a desert island?
A bottle of chilled champagne, my husband, and a 1930s motor-yacht.

9. What in your life would you say is "It's darling!"? 
I'm compelled to say both my newborn sons' tiny fingers and toes, but they are relatively grown up now. So, it would have to be a set of tiny wooden reels of silk thread, designed for children's use, which turned up in a mixed box of cottons. They're so perfect and, I think, such a rare survival. The box only has 5 of the 6 original threads, but they are nonetheless utterly treasurable. And a card of 36 tiny mother-of-pearl glove buttons which I picked up in a French brocante years ago and framed. Oh, and the jauntily printed feedsack patchwork shapes cut by my grandmother in the Great Depression; she completed a lot of quilts but these were left over, all stacked up and ready to go.

A child's vintage sewing set

To find out more about Eirlys and her fantastic work, go to her blog or email her at


  1. What a brilliant interview, I can't wait to see those vintage buttons in real life! :-)

  2. nice to get to know you better Scrapiana :o)


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