Doing our bit for the war effort

We had a brilliant time at Clumber. Sadly the weather was not kind to us on Friday or Saturday, resulting in a very damp day of set up and for those who were in the field displays and Ellie and her team, a very wet first day and not many public visiting.

We were fine in the Parsonage and so were very busy on Saturday. Luckily Sunday was lovely and sunny and there were lots of people there enjoying the displays and the music entertainment.Due to the nice weather we expected to be less busy on Sunday but had visitors all day.

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We very much enjoyed playing our new re-enactment roles of Margaret and Ann from the WI. It was very lovely to be able to sit and drink tea and chat to people in the beautiful surroundings of the Parsonage.

The really lovely thing about the event as Kerry said was that unlike medieval where we are giving people lots of information people were sharing their stories with us, their memories of rationing and the sewing and mending that their mums and grannies did and sometimes some very moving stories of their families during the war.

It was so interesting to hear all about their stories and to meet lots of different people. I didn’t get chance to see any of the events in the field during the day as we were quite far away from that part but we had a really nice chat to lots of the re-enactors on Saturday night at the beer tent and made a new friend who was doing a food rationing display.

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Dawn (Mrs Mac) had a brilliant display and it was amazing to see how little food the actual weekly ration was, especially the bacon!

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I love bacon and easily eat four times that in a week.We also loved the cardboard wedding cake which lifted off to reveal a small sponge underneath.

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We had two tables, one for clothes rationing and one for the Make and Mend leaflets and there were some very good reactions to my ‘what will you spend your twenty coupons on?’ activity with a list of what things cost in coupons such as a raincoat for 9 coupons and underwear 2 coupons each.

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I also had lots of my vintage textiles displayed and the transformed shirt as well as the knitting patterns. We were lucky to find some lovely vintage cups to have tea out of!

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I am very glad that I took the crochet lace and pegs which were a last minute idea as I had lots of leaflets and they made a great display on the fireplace. I have also made a new set of marigold flowers for my hat which you can see at the front on the table.

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Here I am demonstrating the use of the darning mushroom.The visitors were all very complimentary about the jacket and no-one thought it was made out of tablecloths. I am very inspired to make something else now, maybe a summer blouse.

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I do have some other pictures of the event which I will share with you later, I am going to be away for the next three weeks, in Spain and at a conference so I will see you all when I return. I am really looking forward to some sun and to lots and lots of sleep! It has been a very busy few weeks but everything has been done now so when I come back things will be much quieter.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

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Making do – the shirt transformation

I am well underway with all my lovely Make Do and Mend things for my display. I have not only been making things but also acquiring some really interesting things from Ebay. One of the lovely things about this period is that I can actually afford the real artifacts from the period, unlike medieval where they are all in museums or long gone.

I have so much to show you that I am splitting it up into several posts. This one is about one of the charity shop bargain shirts that I got for £1 that I have given a makeover. It did take me a little longer than the one hour they give them on the Sewing Bee but I really enjoyed the process and am very happy with the results.

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I won’t actually wear this one as it is a little short for my taste but will do the same again with other finds as I loved the experimentation. I kept the collar as it was in the end but altered the buttons for some that had a more vintage feel, took in the sleeves and shortened them, added bust darts and shortened it, using the spare material for a cute frill.

I was going to use this piece of embroidered doily for a pocket and so I removed the pocket (thankfully very carefully), and cut it out of the doily but it did not look right so I just used some of the flower motifs for the pocket and collar. I also added some vintage lace to the sleeves.

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I was inspired by advice in the books that I had bought previously on Make do and Mend such as the one below on making new clothes out of worn ones.

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I have just finished reading the wonderful Stitching for Victory book as well which has lots of similar adverts for patterns and detail about all of the sewing during the war.This pattern uses very much the same idea as above and could be bought for 1 shilling from the Girl’s Own Paper.

MDaM - SfV book 1

They also had an advert for a pattern for lingerie, if you were lucky enough to get your hands on some parachute silk or old clothing that was suitable.

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Stitching for Victory is such an amazing book that I will have to do a whole post about it, one of the best books I have ever read about stitching history, so much wonderful detail. It is currently available on Amazon for less than £3 so it is a real bargain as well. One of the very lovely things is that there are lots of quotes from the stitchers of the period, so often the makers’ voices get lost in museum exhibits and the history records so it is wonderful to have the words and pictures from all those wonderful people.

One of the other things that I am loving about this period is that I have so many techniques that I can use for my work. Medieval is wonderful but often I have not been able to do something as it does not fit the period whereas there are less restrictions with this so I am really enjoying that freedom, very much like Steampunk although it is lovely to do the research on the history as well and find authentic things for the period.

I wanted a banner for my table display and was trying to think of what I could do when I spotted an embroidery of ‘make do and mend’ on my craft room wall. It was one of Jenny of Elefantz’s designs that is waiting to be made up into something and it gave me the ideas to stitch the slogan onto something. I was looking for some vintage linen and came across this embroidered traycloth in my stash that made the perfect frame. I learnt to do chain stitch last year so embroidered the letters in the same colours as the original embroidery and am very pleased with it.

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I am making a demonstration pair of slippers from some felt and scraps of Liberty for hexagons so I will show you those next time and I have just started making some gorgeous felt flowers.

I have a new hat that I ordered from Ebay that needed a little something. I remember seeing some 1940s brooches years ago on Hen House’s blog and thinking they were really lovely and I have come across lots of inspiration such as this diagram in the Stitching for Victory book so I am on with that at the moment.

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I hope that you are all having a lovely creative time with whatever you are doing, take care and thanks for visiting.

The tablecloth jacket has a second outing!

When I made my jacket last year for the Asylum Steampunk event I didn’t really think about it being a Make do and Mend garment, I just wanted something original that showed my love of vintage textiles.

The more research I did about what people were doing because of rationing the more I realised that it was perfect as an example and so I was very pleased to be able to wear it to the Haworth 1940s event.

I got some very nice compliments about it as well which was lovely.I wore the same top as last year and shortened my black Steampunk skirt which worked very well. I will buy another replacement one for later Steampunk events but it looked very nice and I felt very elegant.

I didn’t get many good pictures of the outfit as I didn’t have my camera and it was very busy and so only have a few that we took in the cafe with Ellie’s phone, excuse the slightly fuzzy selfie 🙂

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I wore a snood and a flower head band and wore false eyelashes for the first time in my life, it took ages for Ellie to put them on for me so don’t think that will be a regular thing but I do like the 1940s look!

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Ellie looked very gorgeous in the dress she had made and the soldiers were very glad to see her.

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In wartime girls were told that, ‘beauty was your duty’, so there was a real focus on looking the part at all times despite the hardships.

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We also spotted a couple of vintage prams, this one with a very realistic baby in a knitted outfit.

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I would like to spend some time developing my 1940s outfits but at the moment I have so much else on and only one event, which is at Clumber in a few weeks.

It was lovely seeing the inspiration there, so many gorgeous elegant clothes and hairstyles, even if you were in uniform.And hats! I love hats and there were some wonderful ones on display.

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I love Haworth and it just looked amazing with all of the flags and the vintage cars.

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We particularly loved this jeep, complete with carrier pigeons ready to send an emergency message.

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There were lots of people in all sorts of outfits, with displays like this ARP station and a lovely market with lots of beautiful clothes and hats.

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There was always time to get on with a bit of knitting or crochet even though there was a war on and many empty hours in shelters and evenings by the radio were spent in useful work as these ladies were demonstrating.

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We had tea and cake in two of the lovely cafes, luckily there was lots of choice for gluten free and it was great to sit and watch people wander by. All the shops were involved with the windows taped against the blasts and vintage displays.

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A fantastic day out and I am really looking forward to the event in June. I am currently working on a pair of patchwork slippers for the display and then am thinking about some more possible makes, if I have time.

I am at home this weekend but do have to spend most of it marking and doing the doctorate. I might just be able to sneak into the craft room for a bit though:-)

I hope that you have a good Bank Holiday weekend if you are in the UK, we might even get good weather. Ellie is going to be launching the WW2 project at Clumber this weekend so hopefully I will be able to share some photos of that with you. Jake has just come back from a couple of days volunteering with her helping to paint the tank and has got very sunburnt!

Take care and thanks for visiting.

A mini Hardwick Hall

Our last day of the staycation saw us at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, another National Trust property. I have visited twice before but Mum and Ellen had never been. I particularly wanted Ellen to visit as the house was designed by the same architect as Hardwick, where she used to work and is a beautiful miniature version with an amazing textile collection. There are some historic rooms open but much of the public space contains the textiles collected by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth.

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Rachel lived there from 1886 until 1967 and collected over 30,000 pieces of textiles, from all cultures and for all uses.

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She was an avid embroiderer and promoter of arts and crafts of all kinds which she taught to keep the skills alive.

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This small display of ecclesiastical goldwork reminded me of my visit to the Elizabeth Hoare collection in Liverpool.

Rachel believed that creativity had health and and social benefits. I like to think that she and I would have been very good friends if I had ever been able to meet her, she sounds wonderful. The collection is maintained by a charity and works with schools and local communities as well as stitchers.

I love this display of her desk in one of the rooms, her stitching is on the walls and in the drawers are all the sorts of things she would have used, I love seeing this very personal side of stitching and can imagine her writing articles for embroidery magazines and deciding on new projects here.

There were some very similar pieces to those in the Women Travellers exhibition at Bankfield Museum that came from Eastern Europe and Asia.

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The displays have changed since I last went about 5 years ago and there were so many wonderful pieces of whitework and lace on display.

These are two things I have never done but am fascinated by the delicacy of the work and think that the shawls and collars are beautiful. Maybe one day I will be able to incorporate something like this into a Steampunk costume.

Another thing I loved were these hexagons that she had collected, they had been fussy cut and posted to someone, probably as gift.

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I think it is so exciting to see actual papers made of scraps, you can just imagine the sender making these and sending them to a special friend. There were also some hexagon needlebooks and you know how I love a good hexagon!

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Rachel’s personal rooms also contained this wonderful bed with crewelwork hangings, I am really looking forward to the day when I have a hand- made quilt on my bed, I have one as a work in progress but it will probably be a retirement project as have not touched it for about a year. Luckily fabric does not go off!

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There was also a display of contemporary embroidery inspired by the collection with some beautiful whitework pieces and silk embroidered birds and insects.

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This case of needle work tools was also inspired by the collection.

I have been embracing Rachel’s philosophy very much this week, we are right in the middle of marking season, with the added work on my doctorate and so it has been wonderful to sit and stitch in the evenings. I have been working on a table decoration for my Make do and Mend display and so have been quietly doing chain stitch while watching Netflix, very soothing after a hard day of thinking!

I have transformed a man’s shirt into a blouse for my display as well and am now busy working on other aspects, luckily both Jake and I have worn through socks recently so I will be able to demonstrate my darning mushroom and darning egg and I have just got a copy of a vintage pattern for making some patchwork slippers so that is my next project for the event.I am really enjoying the research for the event and have been doing lots of very interesting reading. I have also just won an auction on Ebay for some clothing and food ration books to add to my artifacts which I am very excited about. I will do a post all about that in a little while but my next post will be all about the Haworth 1940s event that Ellie and I are going to this weekend.

We are very excited, Howarth is such a cute village, home to the Bronte sisters and I have not been to this event before, though we have done a Steampunk one there a few years ago. The tablecloth jacket will have an outing as I have decided it is a great example of Make do and Mend and I will be putting on my false eyelashes and red lipstick for a bit of 1940s glamour. I am aiming for something like the gorgeous Gene Tierney here.

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As with when we do Steampuk it always seems strange to be wearing make up and costume as I am so used to medieval re-enactment and shapeless clothing and all my hair covered. It will be lovely to be able to have a bit of 1940s style and I can’t wait to see all of the gorgeous outfits there.

Hope that you all have a nice weekend planned, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

Women who broke the mould

One of our staycation trips before Spain was to Bankfield Museum in the local town of Halifax. It is a beautiful museum situated just outside the town in what was a mill-owner’s house.

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The Ackroyd family that lived there also built a model village, Ackroydon,  in the surrounding area with well-designed houses for the workers that they then helped their staff to buy, so they were real social campaigners, aside from living in the very glamorous Italian style mansion house!

I have wanted to go there for a while to see their costume collection, that is currently being re-organised and will open in late May so Ellie and I have plans to visit later in the summer. However there was a really good exhibition on Women Travellers that had the added bonus of lots and lots of fascinating textiles.

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The exhibition told the story of four women, Gertrude Bell, who I was familiar with already, Edith Durham, Lizzie Humphries and Anne Lister. Lizzy and Anne were local women, the others came from Durham and London.

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All of them had travelled extensively on their own and Edith in particular collected lots of examples of textiles as she did so.She mainly explored the Balkans and came back with some beautiful examples of traditional costume including marvelous embroidery and goldwork.

Many of the items were gifts for weddings including the beautiful embroidered gauze towels in these pictures above and below, There was also such intricate goldwork!

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I really liked this blackwork piece above, I have not done any blackwork for so long but I love the stunning effect with just one colour of thread.

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A particular favourite of mine in the exhibition was her drawings of people in costume and the photos and postcards that she collected.I also loved all the original labels.

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One of the things that I noticed was the way that the women’s exploration was portrayed by media of the time. Lizzy Humphries’ husband actually abandoned her and their round the world walking tour, (taking most of their money with him!), but the poor women still had to suffer being referred to as Mrs Harry Humphries , spelt wrongly below, by newspapers and posters, she didn’t even get to go by her own name!

A really brilliant exhibition, I love things like this, there is so little that tells people about the different roles that women played in travel, research and politics like these women did.

There are also other exhibitions as well like this small one of various ceramics in a room with a wonderful tiled floor.I can’t wait to go back to the museum as they are also going to be having a Halifax at War exhibition as well from June 8th with lots of original photos. And entry to the museum is totally free!

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I was originally supposed to be at a festival with my sister this weekend but my back and joints are not very happy at the moment so I have (probably wisely) given up three days camping for a weekend in the house sorting out my Make do and Mend garments and some work on my doctorate.

I hope that you have a good weekend whatever you are planning and if you are in the UK a nice and hopefully not too cold and wet Bank Holiday weekend.Take care and thanks for visiting.

Withdrawal symptoms

Although I have been having fun knitting things for Barbie I have missed stitching so I will be taking some embroidery on holiday with me, maybe even something vintage that I can use for my Make do and Mend display.

I still have lots of Jenny’s lovely Stitchery club things to make and she has recently posted a lovely new version of her vintage needlebook. This is a great Make do and Mend project turning an embroidered doiley into a beautiful needlebook. The pictures are from Jenny’s site and the instructions are here.

ELEFANTZ vintage style needlebook main pic

I love the crochet she has done on the edge of the wadding inside the needlebook, would love to be able to crochet but can’t get the hang of it!And she has hexis and you know how much I love hexis!

She also posted a link to this beautiful free design from her friend Fee’s blog. I love this and am seriously tempted to stitch this for me, either as a hanging for the sewing room or as a project bag/file cover. I do need some other stitching friends to make things for though as I often run out of people to gift things to! Picture from Fee’s site.

Fee's craft studio button jar

There are lots of other lovely projects that make lovely presents at Fee’s blog as well as she has a year of gifts series with lots of great free ideas, I also love these vintage embroidery needlecases. Photo from Fee’s blog.

Fee's craft studio vintage needlebooks

Something that has been on my wishlist for a while is this cute retro camper design, this would make up into a very cute travel pouch and I love the idea of applique and embroidery. It is a free pattern from Flamingo Toes blog here.

retro camper embroidery

Not that I have got time for any of this at present, I have been having a very social week so have hardly been in to do anything which has been very nice 🙂 I will have to spend most of this weekend working on the doctorate apart from trying to get the Barbie things finished in the evenings.

I have a deadline next week so have to write about 8,000 words by Friday, wish me luck! It will all be over fairly soon and then I have the summer to look forward to with some new things to make for Yarndale, I may try some more sheep themed things as they went down well.

I hope that you are all going to have a lovely weekend ahead, it has been beautifully sunny today so even though I will be inside most of the time I will hopefully have lovely weather to look at.

Take care and thanks for visiting.

Make do and mend

As you may have guessed I love history 🙂 most periods fascinate me but obviously I have my particular passions such as medieval and Tudor. One area that I have been very much interested in over the last few years is World War Two, partly inspired by reading but also as we have gone multiperiod events over the years I have loved visiting the camps of these re-enactors.

Some years ago I started re-purposing material in different ways, making pouches out of old jeans, quilting and patchwork and started to think more about that whole area of reusing things. I have also acquired lots of lovely textiles from the 40s and 50s through my charity shop finds.

So when Ellie said that Clumber were having a WW2 weekend this summer to pay homage to Clumber’s involvement with the making of a trench digging machine I really wanted to be involved somehow. I loved being a WW1 Land girl last summer so I have volunteered to put on a little display of the Make do and Mend campaign.

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For those of you who are not aware this was a government campaign linked to the introduction of rationing, specifically when clothing coupons were introduced and people were encouraged to use textiles they already had in creative ways.

I am basing my character on the lovely Nella Last who I mentioned in my last post. Nella wrote diaries for the Mass Observation Archive all throughout the war and beyond so we have a really detailed account of her life and she often mentions textile work. I loved both the books of her diaries and the film so have decided that I will portray a WI woman who is giving information and advice of the sort that Nella would have encountered. These pictures below show Nella with her son and husband, I love the embroidered top she is wearing in the picture with her son.

Nella Last and son

 

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I have got some wonderful reproductions of the advice leaflets, featuring Mrs Sew and Sew, I intend to separate these from their books for my table top display.

Mrs Sew and Sew

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I have also been doing some research on fashion for me. I need to create an outfit suitable for a middle aged WI woman, a sensible flat shoed but still interested in fashion enough to want to wear nice things kind of person who is passionate about sewing and wants to pass on her skills.I have found this site, Vintage Dancer, very helpful. I have even found someone who made a dress out of tablecloths like my jacket!

Most of this will involve charity shop repurposing as I am good at that and using men’s garments to make women’s clothes was a great source of fabric so I am on the look out for suitable starting items. I also need a hat as I think my lady would have been a great hat wearer. Plus I love hats 🙂

The event takes place in early June but we are going to an event a bit beforehand as well as visitors so need to have something sorted by mid May.So that will keep me out of mischief considering I am away for three weeks over Easter and only get back at the end of April. Thankfully WW2 things are a lot easier to make than medieval!

I have done very little crafting since I last posted, I have been so busy with a very hectic but lovely  week at work where we took the students out to do some activities and had a conference so there have been a lot of early bedtimes for me. I have managed another Barbie dress this Sunday and am still knitting. I will attempt some more finishing this weekend but I am working this Saturday again so time is limited.

I hope you are having a lovely week so far, time seems to really be flying this year, can’t believe we are only 3 weeks away from the end of term and the little matter of a large amount of doctorate needing to be submitted 😮

Take care whatever you are doing and thanks for visiting.