Sunday, 31 August 2014

Summer Roundup

The end of August already?  Hmm, it seems that our extended summer holiday has kept me away from Blogger!  At the beginning of the holiday, with the weeks stretching before me, I had grand plans for numerous posts, plenty of makes and hoped to catch up on lots of cataloguing of my patterns.  In reality, I’ve actually achieved very little of what I’d hoped to, but I have a good excuse; I’ve been out and about with the family having fun!!

So what have we filled our time with?  Well, looking back, we’ve actually done an awful lot. 

We did a vintage fair in Heydon, Norfolk, which was lovely, but I sent Mr Y off to Sheringham with the camera, so no pictures of the fair, but plenty of the trains!  The weather was glorious and there were oh so many beautiful things to buy, but I was good, and all I brought home with me were some more knitting patterns and two 1950's blouses for the girls.

We also touted our wares at the 1940’s event at Ramsey, but again I have no photographs because I didn’t venture far from the tent.  Well, that’s not entirely true, I did venture down to see just one lovely trader who had, yes, you guessed it, more patterns!   She also had some 1940’s black suede ankle boots with Astrakhan trim in a rare larger size, but my mum, being the vintage hunting pro that she is, snaffled them first!! :o)

I may have also acquired some more patterns.  More patterns than I probably should have done. 

I bought, and fell in love with, some incredible pieces of new stock.  Some amazing ox blood red suede CC41 shoes, an incredible lavender coloured crepe dress and coat set and a whole collection of lovelyness including a 1940's Harrod's evening dress, 1930's day dress, 1940's pink moygashel dress with pink piping and a silk vestee from the 1940's :o)

We’ve travelled the highways and byways of East Anglia and visited Colchester Zoo, Minsmere, Sutton Hoo, Dunwich Heath, Land Guard Fort, Holt, Sheringham and Parham, to name but a few.  We’ve been swimming and walking, and paddling and riding.  Wandered through the leafy forests and ambled along the pebbly Suffolk shore.  The girls have dug for treasure and built sandcastles, grubbed in the dirt and come home filthy.  We’ve picked flowers, picked blackberries and picked (and munched!) delicious strawberries.  Eaten picnics in the shade of a tree and eaten over indulgent meals out.  Had cuddly, snugly film nights in and child orientated trips to the flicks!  Phew, no wonder we have welcomed our beds at the end of the day!! 

Racey, C's much beloved, and once white polar bear.  He goes everywhere with her.

We had family staying with us for 2 ½ weeks, which curtailed the adventuring a little, but the increased time at home did mean I was able to finish off 2 jumpers, a blouse and a dress.


We did some decorating, well, I picked the colours and my Mr did the decorating!  I also put him to task on a bookcase, so my once dark oak bookcase is now shiny and blue, the perfect home for some of the girls’ book collection.

All in all, it has been a pretty jam packed 3 months.  Having my Mr home has been absolutely incredible. I think we squeezed in as much as we could and I will never forget this gift of time that we have had together.  It’s been a blast, but as a lady who likes routine and order, I am eagerly awaiting things to get back to normal here on Wednesday, when we will start the countdown to the autumn!!

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.