Friday, 1 August 2014

Weldons So Easy 86 – 1940's Wartime Silk Blouse

Back in 2013, I bought a rather large suitcase of 1940’s fabric at auction.  I paid a pretty penny for it, in excess of £100, but the case had some beautiful dress lengths of novelty rayon silks and autumnal shades of crepe.  In amongst the fabrics was a small piece of 1940’s silk in a delicate shade of duck egg blue.  Over time, silk can rot.  I’ve had silk in the past that I’ve been able to tear as easily as I can tear a piece of paper.  Structurally, the piece of silk I had was strong, but it had a 1” tear, a couple of holes, and a few water stains, so it got put in the back of the cupboard until the right pattern came along. 

Always on the lookout for new patterns of the sewing and knitting variety, I recently picked up a wartime Weldons pattern, a Special Coupon Saving Design!

Designed to save the original purchaser valuable clothing coupons, the fabric usage was very economical indeed, requiring just 1 1/8yds of 36” fabric for the 34” bust.  I had about 2yds of the silk, but with the damage that I had to work around, it was still quite a squeeze to get all the pieces cut.  This was the sort of damage I was working around.

The blouse I went for was the green one, as I liked the idea of trying a neat little collar, and challenging myself to add a pocket, something I’d never done before.  The blouse required bias binding to keep the sleeves neat, and although I didn't have exactly the right shade for a perfect match, I was able to find some vintage binding in my stash that did the trick.

I think the “So-Easy” is very misleading.  Actually, it’s a total fib!  I’ve worked from plenty of vintage patterns in the past, but this one proved a real challenge.

Unlike today’s patterns, most vintage patterns are unprinted, meaning they have no written markings on them at all, they have punch holes instead, and that’s fine, but this one had absobloominglutely no chuffing punch holes at all.  Absolutely didly squit!  It had me turning to my sewing bible, The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Dressmaking, and when that didn’t help; I had to turn to my sewing guru, my mum!  A quick over the phone sewing lesson, and I was sorted.

Plenty of head scratching, chalk marking, tape measuring later, it was done, and I’m really rather pleased with it.  Teamed with the skirt from one of the 1940's suits I have in stock, I think it really looks the part. 

I originally planned to add glass buttons, but the 1930’s buttons I had were slightly rounded on top and therefore a little too heavy for the silk so, for now, it has faceted plastic buttons on.  If I find more suitable buttons before I sell it, then they will be swapped.

I strayed very slightly from the pattern.  I top stitched the yoke to the blouse front, because, personally, I think it gives a cleaner finish.  I also top stitched around the collar and cuffs because, again, I prefer that kind of finish.

The pocket was far easier to add than a thought it would be, it just took patience, lots of measuring (note the no markings comments!!!) and plenty of tacking and pressing. 

The photographs don’t really do justice to this exquisite piece of fabric.  It’s genuinely far nicer “in the flesh”, and I hope it finds a happy new home soon, as it would be perfect to wear in the summer sunshine. 

Reluctant Sale – 1940’s RAF Uniform

Back in 2013, I acquired a small collection of RAF uniform from a private collector in North Norfolk.  The pieces had been in her collection for over 30 years, and originally belonged to one incredible man.

As a general rule, I try to steer well clear of WW2 uniforms.  It’s not that I don’t find them fascinating, because I do; it’s just that I know very little about them and therefore I leave the trading of such things to the experts.

However, just occasionally a collection comes along that is just too darn intriguing to resist. The history attached to a piece of uniform can be fascinating, and in such cases, the budding historian in me, eager to know more about the original owner, wins through, and the piece gets brought home with me!

The collection consisted of a 1945 dated greatcoat, a 1941 dated tunic, a 1930’s mess dress jacket and waistcoat, a pair of post WW2 mess dress trousers, 2 1950’s caps, a late 1940’s blouse, a leather sword frog, some leather gun holsters, and a pair of plus fours with matching waistcoat.  While the sword frog and gun holsters are now sitting happily on my dad’s Sam Browne, the rest of the uniform had been safely stored away, while I pondered what to do with it.    

Being bespoke made some of the pieces bore the original purchaser’s name, a G.M.Buxton.  Some delving later, and we established that the uniform we had was originally made for Geoffrey Mungo Buxton, a Wing Commander, later to become Group Captain in the RAF during WW2.

A search of the Internet turned up quite a lot of information.  Technology really us a wonderful thing, and after putting out a request some months ago to see whether anybody had any information about Buxton, I was incredibly lucky to be contacted by his daughter, who furnished me with some invaluable information.

So who was this man?  Well, Geoffrey Mungo Buxton was born in 1906.  Buxton entered the air force as soon as he left school.  He trained in India with them, before being sent to Cambridge University where he achieved a starred first in aeronautical engineering. 

He designed the Buxton Hjordis, a single-seat sailplane built by Slingsby Sailplanes Ltd, which was flown at competitions in Europe between 1935-1937.  He went on to design the Buxton Hjordis 2, which was again built by Slingsby, but renamed the King Kite. 

During WW2, Buxton was involved in research experiments with “Queen Bee”, seeing whether wooden gliders would get picked up by radar. 

Post war, he was sent to Germany to see how far the Germans had got developing rockets, and the like.  His record of his trip to Germany is held by the RAF Museum, Hendon.  He worked at the Ministry of Supply until 1956, when he retired to North Norfolk. 

Fascinating, don’t you think?  My heart says keep it, but my head says it needs to find a new home with someone who will, hopefully, love and appreciate it as much as I do!  Parting with it is not an easy task, but it has, very reluctantly, been listed on eBay, and you can find the listings by clicking here, and then looking at my other items.

I would dearly love the collection to stay together, but realistically, it is likely to go to separate buyers. 

So if you, or anyone you know, is in search of some RAF uniform, then please take a look at my eBay auction, and give a piece of fascinating uniform a new home.    

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Time to Relax

Well, what wonderful weather we have been having here in England.  The summer has most certainly arrived, although I must admit that the mercury has crept a little too high for me, 32 degrees is just too much for a snow Queen like me.  So, to escaped the heat of the town, we have headed West were it is still gloriously sunny, but not quite so scorchio! 

Things are very much on the up in our happy household.  Mr Y made the best decision ever and walked away from his job.  Not an easy choice, as he has enjoyed 12 years there and has made many firm friends, but new adventures are afoot, and come September, he starts in a new place, a more positive and less destructive environment, and he cannot wait; exciting times ahead!

So before the craziness of fairs and events gets into full swing, we thought we’d take a little trip to Mr Y’s home.  We love it down here in Cornwall.  The pace of life is so much slower.  We have no routines, very few chores to do, the scenery is incredible, and while the house is happily nestled in the heart of the village, the beach is just a few miles away.  And, well, when the sun is shining, everything looks just a little bit brighter don’t you think?

Cornwall offers some truly incredible places to visit.  From wrecks to ruins, grand houses to rugged coastal walks.  As long time members of the National Trust, and having recently joined English Heritage again, we’ve certainly been making good use of the cards.  The British holiday season hasn’t fully kicked off everywhere, with many schools only breaking up today, so attractions have been relatively quiet; very much to our liking.

We haven’t done any vintage hunting, but I hope to rectify that later in the week with trips to Penzance and Lostwithiel, two of my favourite hunting haunts :o) To be fair, Cornwall offers relatively slim pickings on the 1940’s front.  There are countless places to pick up pieces of china and the like, but let’s face it; there are only so many “things” a person can pack into an already bulging home!!

In the evenings I’ve been keeping equally busy, and obviously I couldn’t let crafting fall entirely by the wayside, so I’m working on finishing off this rather natty knitted jerkin.

My woolly pursuits have been less than I had hoped for, because it has simply been too darned hot to knit for any great length of time.  So when my hands can no longer handle the wool, I’ve picked up a needle of the sewing variety and finished off a dress for each of the girls. 

The print isn’t my favourite, but they adore it.  I’m sure the neon pink, yellow, orange and green dresses and shell suits (yes that was my childhood!)  I wore as a child in the mid 1980’s weren’t my mum’s choice either, but I thought I looked the business, and neither she nor my dad ever criticised what I wore.  My mum is a great advocate of allowing children the freedom to be exactly that; children.  So I’m trying to channel her freedom of spirit and trying not to care what other people might think.

We aren’t Suffolk bound just yet, there are pasties and ice-creams to be eaten and more adventures to be had before we head back to normality. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Corsage Giveaway Winner

Just a quick post today.

Thank you to everyone who entered.  And thank you for your further lovely comments :o)

There were 28 entrants, and picking a name out of a hat is about as technical as I get, so, the winner, picked by my youngest monkey, is……..


Congratulations Ethel.  If you can please get in touch by email, I can get your corsage in the post.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Heartfelt Thanks Giveaway!

I want to offer my sincere thanks to each and every one of you who read my last blog post.  I try to mostly keep the blog a happy space, and not whiter on about the duller parts of life, but I had been neglecting this page, and my Facebook page, for far too long, and felt that an explanation was warranted, hence my last ramblings. 

I was worried that it was a little bit of a “woe is me”, whinge and whiney kind of post, but I have been overwhelmed by the number of supportive and kind comments and messages you have sent.  Every single message and comment has been gratefully received, thank you so much, you are all lovely!  It would appear that showing reality, showing that life isn’t all colourful crafting and vintage hunting, isn’t a bad thing after all! 

As a token of my genuine thanks, I am giving away one of my handmade felt corsages.  As I know everyone has different tastes, it will be up to the winner to pick a corsage from my Etsy shop, or I can custom make one in their chosen colours. 

Will it be a cheerful anemone, remembrance poppy, delightful daisy, colourful cluster or one of my other creations? 


The giveaway is exclusive to the blog and won’t be on my Facebook page or IG feed. 

What’s more, entry couldn’t be simpler.  All you have to do is be a follower of my blog, and to add a comment to this post.  That’s it.  No hoops to jump through, no sharing required, just a short, one word if you wish, comment – simples!!

The giveaway is open worldwide and entries can be made up until midnight GMT on July 10th.  The winner will be drawn shortly afterwards.

Good luck.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Making the Most of Things

Sometimes life has a funny way of knocking you off course for a little while.  It can come in the form of a single, life stopping event, or in our case, it can sneak slowly up on you without you necessarily noticing. 

For the past 6 months or so, due to my husband’s work, we have had to compromise on lots of things.  Silly little things really, that alone can often go unnoticed, but once added together, and mounted up over time, they can become big things.

I have watched my beloved husband slowly buckle under increasing work pressure.  He could no longer regularly find time to read the girls’ their bedtime story, something which has always been part of the bedtime ritual.  He couldn’t sit and talk to me about how the day had gone, because there was work to be done.  The 5 day week slowly became a 6 day week.   Bedtime got later and later, and the alarm would get set a little earlier, so a few more minutes of work could be done. 

Surviving on less than 5 hours sleep a night did not a happy, healthy husband make, and eventually, it broke him.  It nearly broke me.  The final straw was when he crawled into bed at 3.30am one morning, with the alarm set to wake him barely 2 hours later.  I called time on it and forced his hand to take a break.  To take some time.  To rest a little.  To recuperate and regenerate, so he would actually still be with us in 6 months time!  A month with no work, no early mornings, no regimental routine, and, most important of all, no stress.

So what have we filled these past couple of weeks with?  Well, quite simply, living. 


Sleeping until gone 8am, and having a more carefree attitude to the girls’ normally strict bedtime.  Eating breakfast in our pyjamas.  Having dinner in front of the television, watching The Darling Buds of May.  Getting out and about.  Walking miles through the shadey forest.  Listening to the sound of the sea from the sun warmed shore.  Skimming stones and collecting pebbles.  Playing in the sand.  Dancing through the grasses at Dunwich, and having picnics in the summer sunshine.  Movie nights in, and trips out too.  Popcorn, ice-cream, BBQs, and spending time with supportive family and special friends.  All these things have helped put things back into perspective.

And while my Mr has been taking a break, I have too.  His working hours, and the pressure and worry associated with that, put me off my game more than a little.  I didn’t realise until everything suddenly stopped, just how much things had been getting to me.  I’ve put my needles down for now, and nothing has been knitted for over 2 weeks.  But I have found time to make some little things for the girls, who quite often get overlooked, from a making point of view.

A new dress for Miss M, made from Pirate fabric – so adorable – and a little felt horse for each of them, made from, unsurprisingly, a wartime pattern.

I haven’t left vintage hunting fall by the wayside.  I couldn’t, it’s one of the many things that make me happy, and so we have been out and about, collecting lots of beautiful frocks and accessories to bring to the fairs over the coming months. 


I may also have added a few vintage goodies to my own collection ;-)

4.5 yds 1940's crepe fabric, 1940's dress pattern and a new 1940's hat! :o)

We are halfway through our break, and have looked upon this unplanned month together as a gift.  It has given us an amazing, likely once in a lifetime, opportunity to take time out as a family, recharge our batteries a bit, and do the things so often taken for granted. 

I’m slowly, but surely, getting my husband back, claiming him once again as my own. Work has claimed far too much of him these past 6 months, and it gets you down.  We intend to very much make the most of the fact that for now, he’s ours, and only ours.

Normal service will resume shortly :o) xx