Mixing the Old with the New

Mixing the Old with the New

Posted by Christen Brown on Feb 10th 2023

I have a new book coming out in March 2023, titled Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New. I wanted to write a book that showcases projects and gallery pieces that use the stashed items that we all have hidden and boxed away, waiting for just the right project.


The focus of the book is to look through your stash of treasures, from fabrics to ribbons, hankies to buttons, laces to sewing notions, and find new and creative ways to use them. The projects that you make from your stash, may be completely made from vintage components that span several time periods, or you might use a mixture of vintage and newly acquired treasures.

When combining your new stash with the old, one of the things to consider, is that you will need to match or at least blend the vintage with the newer pieces. I suggest that you look for colors that are used throughout the eras, which are reds, pinks, yellows, blues, greens, browns, tans, and creams. Often the shading will be slightly off, but you can find ways to blend these with the newer components.

My Fair Lady

11447_My Fair Lady

8’’ x 10’’ (20.3cm x 25.4cm)

I found this wonderful reproduction cigarette silk print and thought of Eliza’s beautiful pink dress that she wore when confronting Henry at his mother’s house (My Fair Lady, Warner Brothers, 1964). I found this printed fabric in my stash and thought perfect! The project combined new fabrics with old trims and buttons, in hues of pink, green, and creme. 

Collected From my Stash 

1900-1940: Wavy pink and white trim, mother-of-pearl buttons, glass buttons, pink glass hexagon beads, sequins, pink ombré silk embroidery ribbon 

2000-2010: Floral fabric, floral bridal appliqués, green silk embroidery ribbon, reproduction print cigarette silk (center) 

New: Green satin ribbon, cotton lace, glass seed beads, cotton floss, perle cotton

Cotton Candy and Cinnamon Hearts

11447_ Cotton Candy and Cinnamon Hearts

18 3/4’’ x 15’’ (47.6cm x 38.1cm)

The center heart was embroidered by my mom for a Valentine’s Day greeting card, many years ago. I combined this with both new and old fabrics, trims, laces, and buttons, concentrating on a heart theme, and colors in reds, pinks, greens, and neutrals. I also included two NOS (new, old stock) cigarette holders, which I thought made perfect vases for my flowers. And don’t you just love those great vintage advertising buttons?

Collected From my Stash 

1930-1950: Feed sack fabrics in red and cream, Swiss dot fabric, red and white striped fabric, embroidered cotton trims, satin and ombré ribbons, buttons, novelty cigarette holders, plastic thimbles, advertising buttons, beads 

1960-1995: Embroidered heart (center) made by my mom, jacquard ribbons, pink and white heart fabric, ladybug pin 

New: Red and pink with print fabric, satin, check and grosgrain ribbons, lace, perle cotton, cotton floss, buttons, plastic, and glass charms

Girly Girls

11447_ Girly Girls23 1/2’’ x 19’’ (59.7cm x 48.3cm)

This entire collection of doilies, napkins, and small serving placemats were given to me by friends and family members. The kid glove belonged to my grandmother, and my mother stitched the oval floral pieces. The earrings came from both of my husbands’ grandmothers, and the jacquard ribbon from his mother. The vintage buttons, jewelry perfume vials, and glass beads were purchased at thrift stores and on-line resources.

Collected From my Stash

1930-1950: kid glove, jacquard ribbons, doilies, napkins, small serving placemats, lace, buttons 

1960-1985: earrings, rhinestone brooch, embroidered brooches, zippers, perfume vials, buttons 

1990- 2000: lace appliqués, rococo trim, tatted lace, buttons 

New: Creme print fabric, satin ribbon, rick rack trim, lace, perle cotton, buttons, plastic, and glass charms

Red Roses, Four Generations of Love

11447_ Red Roses, Four Generations of Love18 3/4’’ x 16 3/4’’ (47.6cm x 41.3cm)

This wallhanging started with several handkerchiefs that belonged to my mother and grandmother. The hankies are collage-pieced together with small bits of cotton fabric., and are layered together with ribbons, laces, appliqués, and trims. I made fabric yo-yo’s, flowers, and fabric circles from the feed sack fabrics, and ribbonwork flowers from satin ribbon. Special mementos include a few tatted and crochet flowers that my mom made, along with glass ladybugs, which is the symbol for our daughter.

Collected From my Stash 

1930-1950: feed sack fabric, celluloid buttons 

1960-1970: hankies, glass buttons 

1990- 2000: cotton printed fabrics, lace appliqués, jacquard ribbon, tatted and crochet lace flowers, plastic, and glass buttons 

New: satin ribbon, cotton lace, perle cotton, silk embroidery ribbon, plastic, and glass buttons, glass beads, metal charms

A Note from the Author 

My advice to you, is to never look a gift as anything but a wonderful gesture. Chances are that you will be able to find a special place for that treasure, and when you look at it you will think of the person who gave it to you. I know that I do, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to every one of you that gave me a special gift from your heart! ~CB



Shop Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New

Christen Brown teaches embroidery, quilting, crazy quilting, ribbonwork, mixed media, and beadwork in her best-selling books. With a degree in fashion design, she has shown her work in galleries and fashion shows internationally. She lives in Escondido, California. christenbrown.com