Jane Vanroe on collecting vintage powder compacts and compact mirrors. You can find Jane's designs at www.vanroe.com and on Amazon in the EU & USA
As most pre-1960 vintage compacts were made for loose powder, all too often they have lost their original “sifter” – the little gauze sieve to hold the powder safely in place.
My easy method of making your own is based on the sifters I find in British compacts from the early 1950s. Here I’ve made a round sifter, but you can adapt the shape to give any vintage compact a new lease of powdering life!
PS – If you’re lucky enough to own a vintage Stratton or KIGU powder compact, you can also find replacement Stratton powder sifters over at my shop, Vanroe Compacts. x
You will need:
• White card (about shoebox thickness)
• PVA glue (or a friendly newsagent with a laminator)
• A ruler
• A compass
• A pencil
• Finely holed fabric (I’ve used vintage net, but fine cross-stitch fabric works well… as does an old pair of tights!)
• A craft knife or sharp scissors
• A sewing machine (or sharp, strong needle if you prefer to hand sew)
• White thread
• A scrap of thin ribbon
If you can, ask a friendly newsagent or stationer to laminate your card for you. This gives the best flexibility and strength for your sifter. If laminators are in short supply, stick two layers of card together with a good coating of PVA glue. Leave this to dry completely.
Measure the inside shape of your compact carefully, then draw this shape on your card. Cut out with scissors or craft knife.
Check the size of your card by popping it into your compact. It should sit fully inside the powder container, with a tiny (1/2 – 1mm) gap all the way round (we’ll fill this gap when sewing the sifter in Step 7). Shave off a little sliver at a time with your scissors until you have the perfect fit.
Don’t worry if the edge of your card starts to look messy. This will be hidden when you sew the sifter.
Draw another cutting line on your card, between ½ and 1cm from the edge. Be as generous as possible as the more width you leave, the stronger your sifter. Cut out the centre of your shape along this line to make your sifter ring.
Pin your ring to your fabric as shown. Use a double thickness of net, or a single thickness if you’re using cross stitch fabric or those old tights. Pin a loop of your ribbon fully across the ring as in my photograph.
Now the sewing bit. The simplest way is to use a sewing machine with a blanket stitch (like I’ve used) or zig-zag setting. However, if you prefer to hand sew, use blanket stitch and a strong button-hole thread.
Start by sewing the inside edge of the sifter ring. Choose the lowest setting for your stitch length, and a stitch width of around 5-6mm. Stitch completely around the inside edge as shown. Stitch through the fabric and card and over the ribbon loop. Remove the pins as you sew.
Increase your stitch width to the maximum on your machine (7mm on mine). Then sew around the outside edge of your sifter. As before, sew through the card, fabric and ribbon. This new line of stitches will overlap your first, giving your sifter extra strength.
Once you’ve sewn around your sifter, take a quick look. If you can still see a messy cardboard edge, sew around again a second or third time to hide the card completely.
Now cut the excess fabric and ribbon away from the outside edge. Cut close to your stitches but take care not to snip any. A little bit of fabric left all the way around will help your sifter sit snugly in your compact.
If you do snip any threads, simply sew over them again with your blanket/zig-zag stitch.
Your new sifter is ready to use! Place a small amount of your favourite loose powder in your compact, pop your sifter on top, then dab with a powder puff to apply. Happy vintage-style powdering!
You might also like my post on The Use, Care and Repair of Vintage Stratton Compacts.