Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Vintage frocks

So vintage frocks are making a come-back and Antiques Roadshow will be featuring some of them! The article in last week's Radio Times mentioned Biba, Mary Quant and Ossie Clark and valued some of their little numbers at anything from £80 to £800.
I felt a quick visit to the wardrobe was needed! Way back in my college days of the early seventies when I was studying Textiles (alongside Bruce Oldfield, I might add here!) at Sheffield City College, I designed and made this wayout silk dress.
Of course tie-dye and the colours purple and orange were trendy in the seventies - hence this gorgeous concoction of hand dyed and embroidered silk. The hemline, sash and centre panel are tie-dyed circles and the main fabric of the dress has a marbled effect. The photo below shows the machine embroidery and beading on the midriff panel. I think the idea came from my design sketchbook based on steam engine wheels!! (Boyfriend liked to visit the Railway Museum at York- the old one not that nice new thing there now!!!)

It is still in perfect condition, full length, fully lined and if my memory serves me correctly, wonderful to wear - I haven't done so for a while as it is a size 10 and I am not!!!!! It helped me gain a Distinction in my course work so I guess it must be beautifully made too - sounds like an advert but I think I would need to be offered a lot of money to sell it. It feels like an old friend - lots of happy memories of fun in the Textile department whilst we were sewing, weaving, potato printing but most of all laughing. Those were the days.....

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Lovely cards & cushions!

I have just visited a friends blogshop -

Calico Kate makes her own cards and also makes gorgeous cushions from vintage embroidered cloths and napkins. If you want something a little different for a gift or card just follow the link.

Wipso and I have been busy with cards, curtains and cosy tops.
She has a holiday coming up and needed her new tops making, ready to take away with her. As you will see if you read her blog she has been extremely busy and struggling with a very sore eye too. So - big sister to the rescue - I have made two smart tops for her using the fabric she bought from Abakhan. I think she was suitably pleased!
This week I shall be busy preparing for my visit by friends from Yorkshire so the sewing will have to wait. I am itching to get going on some smocked, Autumn frocks for Phoebe. I found a super, little top in Sainsbury's and have adapted the pattern to suit my smocking. Hopefully I will get it done before I am inundated with curtains and blinds for my daughter's new house.
Today we had the church garden club sale on Wipso's front garden. She has continued this event, supporting the garden club Dad helped set up over 30 years ago. He always allowed them to use his garden and even gave guided tours of his magnificent vegatable plot! Since 1989 when he sadly passed away, Wipso and her hubby in a million have held the sale, twice yearly, to raise funds for the club. All the members bring spare plants and produce to sell. It was like Harvest Festival with apples, damsons, blackberries, marrow, beetroot, tomatoes and lots of plants at knockdown prices! We even had a raffle and lucky old me - I won a bottle of red wine!
So thanks Wipso - I shall raise a glass to you tonight as I watch part two of "Strictly Come Dancing!"

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Priory School Shrewsbury - 70th anniversary.

My two school friends and I had a great afternoon on Saturday. Our old grammar school - now The Priory School Shrewsbury - celebrated its 70th anniversary. My school friend from Shrewsbury, being a brilliant organiser, bought tickets and arranged for our friend from Poulton le Fylde to join us for the weekend. So we set off to school together, just 40 years since we left in1969!

Amazingly much of the school was just as we remembered it. Of course, there were new buildings, including a smart library and huge sports hall, but mostly it looked much the same. We even recognised cupbards in classrooms and the odd desk or two with ink wells and lids carved with initials from the past - not ours, I hasten to add.

Gone are the draughty corridors open to the elements and threatening frost bite when you ventured out to change classes or worse still strip to PE gear for hockey on the field. The corridors are now glazed and we baked under hot glass as we walked along to Room 3 - the 1960s room. We were hoping to meet old friends from our year but we three were the only ones. We did meet others we remembered and shared their photos and a few happy memories.

Lots of the "old girls" were literally that - ladies who had been at the school much before us - some back into the 30s and 40s. It was lovely to see them enjoying a good natter over their refreshments. The organisers had put on a wonderful spread and even produced a huge celebration cake with the school badge. Our motto, I think, was "haud pro una, sed pro multis" and if my memory and my latin learned all those years ago serve me correctly, means "not for one but for many". Very true I suppose, whichever way you choose to interpret it!!

We took a few snaps of each other and then made our last port of call the old gym where we spent many an unhappy hour in our bottle green knickers!! We opened the door with a faint feeling of trepidation, only to find that it is now a drama hall, an altogether much cosier friendlier place. It didn't stop us sharing a few of our memories of falls from wall bars and struggles to mount leather backed, huge boxes and pommel horses!! We could even recall the names of those lythe, agile beauties who could accomplish all with ease - sadly we were not amongst them!!

Heading for home and a barbecue on this rare sunny evening in my friends back garden, we all three thought it had been an event not to miss but wished some of our other friends had turned up to share it with us.

For anyone interested- left - Josie, Chris, Judith & Gill

Below, gathered around the sculpture called "Femininity" in the quadrangle, are the girls of the Upper Sixth in the summer of 1969. We designed and made that uniform ourselves!!

Those were the days, my friend.........

If you recognise yourself then please get in touch!

PS - Thanks Chris, for organising a brilliant weekend.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Smocking update and a make do and mend project.

Here is my latest little smocking project. I found a pretty piece of lilac and white check fabric which was just perfect for this neat smocked pinafore dress. To work the smocking stitches on the right side of fabric, you first need to run several parallel rows of gathering stitches on the wrong side. Check fabric makes it easy to get the rows straight!

My sister suggested the addition of tiny flowers across the centre of the smocking to match those already embroidered on the fabric. Really pretty, I think!

I only have photos and a couple of measurements for the little girl it was made for, so I was delighted to get an email saying that it fit. Better still, little Fleur loved it and insisted on wearing it all that day - success!!!

My other project was a make do and mend - so easy and satisfying to almost have something for nothing.

I used the frills, lace and fabric from a ladies blouse to create another little pinafore dress for my niece. The pattern for both these dresses was copied and adapted from a dress I bought earlier in the summer so no cost there either!
I must say that my sewing lessons from the 1960's have stood me in good stead over the years and my teacher - Mrs Woodroffe did a brilliant job.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Cancer Research 10 K run

Over a thousand runners began the 10 k run at Delamere Forest in Cheshire to raise funds for Cancer Research on Sunday. Here they are lining up for the start - my 29 year old daughter is one of them. I went along to keep her company on the 100 mile round trip there and back, and to cheer her on along the course ( No, I am not up to running 10 k - I could walk it but I am not built for running!!) I did manage to walk through the woods and cheer her on at the half-way point. She finished in just over an hour and was mighty pleased with herself.

Most of the runners yesterday had messages on their backs saying who they were running to remember or cancer survivors to be thankful for. Today I heard the sad news that a young friend, only 27, has cancer which has already progressed to her liver and lungs. It certainly put our problems in perspective and made us really glad that we made the effort to go yesterday and thus raise a few pounds to help beat this hideous disease.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Where did August go?

Apologies to anyone who follows my blog!
I just don't know where August went - I certainly didn't spend it sunbathing!!!
We had a few fine days but I certainly felt sorry for all parents trying to keep chidren entertained through their school holidays.
Blogging friend had a lovely idea of putting activities on cards in a jar and picking out a different one each day - clever!!

So what did I do....
My daughter is home with us at the moment so she has inspired us to get out and walk more.
We have combined it with picking blackberries and better still, billberries, which have been plentiful on the Stiperstones -along with wonderful views across Shropshire and the Welsh border country. Now I have a well stocked freezer and jars of blackberry jam. I haven't made jam for years so it was quite an experiment but the result is delicious!! The billberries blackened our teeth, tongues and mouths and now I know why you don't often see them on restaurant menus!!
My latest sewing project has been a little smocked pinafore dress for a friend's daughter. She has yet to receive her parcel so I will save the photo until she has seen the real thing. I think its really pretty - I just hope it fits.
We have also been absorbed in tracing my husbands family tree and have found it quite addictive. I may blog more on this later as the everyday history of the times fascinated me. We still have a few unsolved problems to crack.
My sister always said she didn't have time to blog - I think you will see from that she does have time and is making a very good job of both blogging and her little sewing business!!
She set me a task of listing -"Things I have but don't need" and "Things I need but don't have"
Interesting thought, so I will be blogging about that later too.