Saturday, 30 June 2012

1940's Simplicity Dress Pattern

Well, I’ve done it, I’ve made a dress, my first of 2012! 

Last week I discovered, having got up to the neck!, that I had made an irretrievable mistake on a jumper I was knitting.  The pattern is a repeat of squares and I'd managed to get an entire vertical row off centre!!!!  After throwing it across the room and having a right royal tantrum, I pulled it back to the rib (2 weeks work ruined) ready to start again.  I was somewhat cheesed off and simply couldn't face picking up the needles again - I'm sure I'm not alone in that :o)

An entire change was needed and, having seen some other bloggers showing off their beautiful creations, I was desperate to sew a dress.  After much sorting, I opted for this fabric.

It was bought last year in a charity shop for just £5 and at 4 yards long by 45" wide, I think it's safe to say a bargain was had.  Although not an original 1940’s fabric, it has a very pretty print and does the “40’s look” perfectly.  The fabric is a soft cotton which made it really easy to work with (not at all slippery) and it’s so floppy that it hangs beautifully.

An avid hoarder collector of 1930's and 1940's sewing patterns, I have quite a collection.  They are mostly American and many of them are for very small garments - 32" bust anyone? Not I :o)  Because I had oodles of fabric, I thought I’d be sensible and squeeze the biggest dress out of it that I possibly could,  opting for this pattern by Simplicity, dated 1940.

I went for the option on the left because I like the puffy sleeves and I didn't have enough fabric to do the long sleeved one :o) 

I had grand designs to do the contrast collar and trim but just couldn't find suitable fabric.  Buttons and a buckle were, yet again, impossible to match so I had to opt to cover the buttons myself and it was surprisingly easy.  It involved cutting a small circle of fabric and running some stitches round the edge before putting the button into the middle, pulling the thread tightly to create a bag and then fastening it off.  There is a little plastic piece that looks like a washer that slips firmly onto the back and your done - simples :o)

Not so simple were the damn buttonholes!  Bound buttonholes are not a favorite of mine, I find them awkward and fidly and incredibly difficult to line up.  I know it would be easier to use the buttonhole function on my sewing machine but it wouldn't give the finish I was after.  To help me, I made use of a most brilliant book called "The Complete Guide of Sewing".  It was printed in the USA in 1943 and is an absolute gem of a book with clear instructions to complete even the simplest piece of sewing.

I fluffed the binding on the sleeves by machining it onto the wrong side of the fabric, that'll teach me to concentrate harder!  I also ended up not having enough fabric to make the belt in one piece so had to match the fabric on an all blue section and join it together - make do and all that :o)!! 

In all, it took a week to make and the sun was shining beautifully yesterday so I could finish the hem, sitting in the garden - perfect!  Here are the snaps I took today.  The camera isn't doing the colour justice, not sure what happened there and the breeze was doing funny things to the skirt! 

The belt doesn't stick out like that normally, the dummy is smaller than the dress so I had to make the belt far smaller.

Oops - I should probably have ironed it before I put it on the dummy!
It’s all finished in perfect time to take to Heydon this weekend for the Little Vintage Lover fair that is being held there.  Never done this event before but from the pictures on the website, it looks like a goodie!

Here’s hoping for beautiful sunshine :o)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sutton Hoo

Sorry for my blogging absence - no excuse, I've simply not had anything to blog about! :o) 

I've been busy, incredibly busy in fact, but I don't really feel I've achieved a great deal.  Lots of little things to finish off on various projects and I really need to make time to do them - never enough hours in the day and all that.

Taking me away from more crafting time was a trip we took today to Sutton Hoo.  If you've never heard about this National Trust property before, it's an Anglo-Saxon burial ground, the most important burial found on the site was that of Raedwald and was excavated in 1939.  10 years ago, the exhibition hall opened and the event this weekend marked a decade of it being open to the public. 

The event had both Anglo Saxon and WW2 re-enactors.  An odd mix, you might think, but the Anglo Saxon's were there for obvious reasons and the WW2 element was to represent the use of the site as a military vehicle training site during WW2!  

I must confess, Anglo Saxons aren't really my thing.  I get why the site is important, historically, but it's a time that doesn't interest me.  Having said that, the people portraying this period in time were engaging and very friendly, especially to the little Y's who had a wonderful time and learnt some new things.

More my cup of tea was the WW2 element.  There was meant to be a "make do and mend" display in the house, but it wasn't much cop.  So much so in fact that there wasn't even anything worthy of a photograph :o( 

There were no 1940's "civilians" (not that I expected any) but there was an American camp (which I totally forgot to photograph!) some Land Girls, a lone member of the WVS and the 10th Regiment Suffolk Home Guard. 

The Home Guard interacted with members of the public brilliantly (I am a little biased to be fair!) and they encouraged participation offering broom handles for rifles.  The "physical jerks" (program listing, not my words) were entertaining as the Home Guard took off their blouses (uniform jackets) and got jumping.  Even Raedwald got in on the action, although the press ups were beyond him :o) 

Littlest Y got to fire blanks using a Lee Enfield 303 rifle and the icing on the cake, for her, she got to take the empty casings home.  She has reliably informed me that these make perfect skittles if you use a marble!

As to purchases, I made just the one, this little booklet.  A gem in itself but an added bonus were the 3 tickets inside for the National Fire Service end of course social and dance which was held on January 26th 1944.

The cover makes it clear as to what is inside and I was quite taken with it.  How it survived WW2 though I don't know because, with conundrums like this........

"In our village live Mr. Carpenter, Mr Builder, Mr Joiner and Mr Plumber.  Strange to relate, these four men are by profession, carpenter, builder, joiner and plumber, although none is engaged in the same trade as his name.  The Plumber's son is engaged to Mr. Builder's only child, and the carpenter whose son plays ludo, plays golf with Mr. Plumber.  What is Mr. Joiner by trade"???  ( have you worked it out??)

.......I know for a fact that, had I been the owner, I would have thrown it out the window in sheer frustration! :o)

Finally, when flicking through the photographs of the day, this was my favourite, my oldest on the zip wire.  She did manage to hold on, although how, I'm not quite sure! :o)

Hope you've all had a good weekend.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Fabulous Fashions of the 1940s DVD!!

Ever heard of Pathe News? 

Well, I shan't bore you with the ins and outs of it but, basically, British Pathe captured important events on film and produced short information reels for the public between 1910 and 1970.  As far as I understand it, the 4-5 minute reels were shown in cinemas around the UK.

There were some 90,000 of these films and these have been digitised so we can enjoy them today.  With plenty of reels from the 1940's, some great DVD's have been produced which contain clips taken from the archives; little snippets put together to give an insight into the era.  You can't beat a bit of real footage to see what things were really like, can you?? 

Last week Mr Y gave me a one of said DVD's.  It might be that you have heard of it before, maybe you own it even, but in case I'm not alone in my not knowing about it's existence, I thought I would share it with you. 

The DVD in question is "Fabulous Fashions of the 1940's The British Pathe Cinemagazines".

Image taken from Amazon!  Camera cable M.I.A - again!
Its content is vast and I was struggling to pick only a few clips to share with you.  Simple screen shots wouldn't have conveyed the brilliance of the DVD (in my opinion).  Flummoxed, I turned to the ever brilliant Youtube and, voila, here is a little clip from said DVD which might wet the appetite!!  Enjoy :o)

The DVD covers the entire era from "Air Raid Booties" in November 1940 to "Clothes being off Ration" in March 1949.  It's quirky, sometimes cheeky (sometimes cheesy!) but very informative and mostly very British!

Bad bit about the DVD??  It isn't long enough.  I have watched it twice already and was riveted to the spot for the entire 72 minutes.  I didn't event knit while watching it in case I missed something wonderful!

Mine came from Amazon although I did spot it on eBay. 

I really enjoyed it and shall be watching it again, and again, and again............ :o)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Another Happy Customer - 1946 jumper

Very quick post.

I have finished my most recent jumper, this time from a 1946 Stitchcraft pattern.  It was knitted in a shade called cardinal from the Stylecraft 4 ply range.  It's quite a fiddly pattern, the photograph doesn't really show the design very clearly but there is a zig zag pattern running up each of the sections with little staggered bobbles (my description isn't much better than the picture but I'm sure you get the gist).

Here it is displayed on my dummy in sunless skies which make the colour look darker than it really is.

The jumper was Norway bound and the new owner, Cat, kindly sent me a couple of photographs of her wearing it.  These next photographs show the true colour!

Thank you Cat for sharing these shots, I think you look wonderful :o) 

Next on my needles will be some Stylecraft pale rose for a little cardigan I've got on order ;o)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

All dressed up and nowhere to go!

Do you remember this dress pattern from my previous post?

Well, the design gained instant approval from youngest daughter, M.  The brief was very simple, she wanted green, any shade, any pattern but green.  We don't have a local fabric shop so took a trip to Felixstowe where they have a shop called Fabric8.  It's a crafters heaven.  Lots of beautiful material for quilting, upholstery and costume as well as wool, patterns, ribbons - the list goes on. 

Little M is an adventurous 4 year old so fabric wise needed something durable that would stand the test, easier said than done, and out of a suitable choice of just 2, this is the fabric that was chosen.

I'll make a confession.  I didn't actually do any of the dressmaking!!

I've made dresses before but only straight off the pattern.  This one needed to have some adjustments made so was outside of my comfort zone.  Therefore I passed the job, kit and caboodle, onto my rather nifty mum who's a brilliant dress maker, so good in fact that she actually made my wedding dress.

The "Style" pattern used proved quite simple (according to Mum anyway) but it has turned out a little larger than the measurements given in the pattern.  Not such an issue because it means it will last the little lady for a good while.   I love the very 1940's puffed sleeves and  think the addition of the belt (the only way round the lack of smocking) works really well.  If I do say so myself, because I'm obviously biased, I think she looks pretty cute.  Being cotton, it'll be nice and cool, should the sunshine ever decide to arrive! 


Her new love, a wooden replica of a Thompson machine gun that my Dad made for her.  She takes great pleasure in aiming it at any passing magpies since once stole a sock of hers from the garden last summer - children have amazingly good memories!!

As to the no where to go, well, this weekend we were meant to be having our stand at the War on the Line event held at the Mid Hants Railway.  Anyone in Britain will know that the weather has been changeable of late and in Suffolk alone, Friday saw gale force winds force organisers to close the local show, something I've never known. 

However, with the weather forecast promising better weather, we decided to drive the 150 miles to Mid Hants only to find that the field we were meant to pitch our large tent in was;

a) full of fresh cow pats!!! (I can laugh about it now but on Friday I was more than a little cheesed off!)  and
b) was totally exposed with wind gusting across at a rate far too strong to pitch the tent safely.  

There were 4 of us trying to put the tent up, literally hanging onto it, but after struggling for an hour, we had to face facts that it just wouldn't have been safe.  Even if we had managed to get it up, there was no guarantee that we wouldn't have ended up tentless at 2am and the safety of the little Y's was priority.  It is the first time in 5 years of trading that we've given up, and we hate to let anyone down.  I have to admit that plenty of tears ensued (all me, the numpty that I am) when admitting defeat and facing another 150 mile journey home.  4 weary travellers arrived home safely at 12.30am.

Next event for us is in 5 weeks time so here's hoping that this damn weather sorts it's self out and delivers us a summer or at least a weekend without a gale!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Jolly Jubilee

Well, the Jubilee weekend here in England has been and gone.  Are you a fan of HRH?  Did you celebrate? 

I'm a Royalist and proud :o)  Not everyone's cup of tea I know but I'm a great fan of our monarchy and am fascinated with it's history, the little Y's and me have been flag spotting while on our travels - lots of people seem to have embraced the celebrations.

Our 4 days were busy. 

Saturday involved a trip to the coast, a picnic on the beach and returning washed up starfish to the sea.

Sunday saw us take off to York, a 420 mile round trip, to visit the National Rail Museum where it rained, rained, rained!!  Mr Y is an avid rail fan so this was right up his street.

Specially painted for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight!!  This one I did like!

Monday was a day of chores and shopping (I hate shopping).  A trip to town secured 2 new camp beds for the littlest Y's.  Very sturdy affairs, far better than the one I used to sleep on at my Nan's during the 1980's.  I had one of the camp beds that if you sat on one end it would tip up and you'd end up on the floor, if you sat on the other end, it would collapse with you inside it!  Anyone else remember them?? 

We also got in some red, white and blue with paper chains made by the little Y's, corsage making and teacake eating.

Tuesday we had friends and family for a BBQ.  In true British bank holiday tradition it rained but oldest daughter, 6, wasn't to be put off and told guests that "we can all be British and stay outside" so that is exactly what we did.  Well, until dessert because no one fancied eating Eton Mess cheesecake in the rain!  No pictures of the desserts, they vanished all too quickly, but there was bunting aplenty in the garden and littlest Y was very proud of her windmill.

We had a good weekend and I'm glad that we marked a once in a life time occasion.

IF you celebrated, I hope you had fun xx