Talking of photos, here is a pretty decent one which was taken at last week's photo shoot. Many people have asked me how much "staging" went on during the shoot and to be honest, very little. You may have noticed that I am fond of setting the scene and surrounding myself with pretty things so the odd thing was shifted into/out of shot, the odd vase of flowers or piece of sponge cake positioned but that is pretty much it. I did take a few bits and pieces down to the cottage especially, which normally reside at home. Some of my vintage frocks for example.
We don't have a wardrobe at the cottage, for one thing it would never fit up the stairs (the bedstead came in through the window, the frame having been removed to facilitate it!) and we never need a lot of clothes as we are only there for short periods, so we have our folded clothing in a chest of drawers and some hooks for hanging.
You may recall that a few weeks back we took a day trip to Royal Tunbridge Wells and happened upon a little vintage market where I bought a couple of dresses. Some of you enquired what they were like and now you can see them in the photo above, the one on the far right and the one second from the left.
This all got me thinking about vintage clothes and what I have been up to recently. Below you can see a book I've had for ages. It is a great book for helping you to make your own skirts and I've used it many times to make simple A-line numbers. It guides you through drafting your own pattern pieces based on your measurements and then holds your hand through the sewing. I need about one and a half metres for an a-line skirt plus a zip, thread, a bit of interfacing for the waistband and a hook and eye, so they are very cheap to make and I usually run a few up each season for knocking about in every day.
And then there's this. I love this fabric. It has that fantastic cool, heavy feel that only vintage cotton does and of course, it has that gorgeous print of purpley-pink flowers and bows. Tres chic!
I actually bought this skirt at the Bridport street market a couple of weeks ago. I could see it was far too small for me; not only am I no longer slim but vintage clothes are generally on the tiny size which does not a happy marriage make! Looking at it (having fallen already for the fabric), I decided that maybe I could alter it. I set to with the scissors and only then thought to take a few snaps to share in case you might be interested.
These vintage clothes, especially skirts and dresses of the '50s, post-war when everyone was keen to show off and leave the days of rationing behind, were often very full and used yards of fabric. I laid this one out and even put my measure down so you could see just how much! At first, I had thought the skirt was cut on the bias as it had a very swingy feel but in fact, it is a circle skirt and as you can see, uses over 5 feet of fabric, both back and front.
I unpicked and removed the waistband and also the zip. I cut about off about one and a half inches round the waist, then re-sewed the side seams for strength and re-used the original metal zip just siting it a little lower down. There was not enough of the original material to re-make the waistband so I made one using a plain white cotton to my exact waist measurement. I re-used the original button. I wear this with a little black Hobbs' '50's style knitted top which sits just over the waistline so it hides the waistband anyway. (The instructions for doing all of this are contained in the book.)
I'm thrilled with the result, what a skirt for £10! And I'm happy to tell you that it has a friend. In fact, the bow skirt is the second I have altered in recent times (I have the bug!)
What do you think of this 1950's beauty?
This divine cotton is a border print, you may just make out from the photo that the bottom doesn't need to be hemmed because it is a selvedge.
I bought this gorgeous skirt from Lizzie when we visited her fabulous stall at Shepton Mallett Antiques Fair a few months back. I fell in love with the fabric (so reminiscent of Horrockses) but the waist was only 20". I must credit Mr HenHouse with coming up with the idea of altering the waist. I could see it was very full skirted so a deal was done and home came the skirt.
This one was a lot more work because it was not as skillfully made originally but also because the waist was gathered rather than flat like the bow skirt. I unpicked the whole thing and found I had over 10 feet of fabric (imagine how much that would cost today!) I re-sewed the side seam and inserted a zip as the skirt did not have a zip when I bought it, not so good for the modesty! Again, I made a new waistband from a period coloured green cotton. I gathered the waist by hand until it was the right size, then attached the waistband. A labour of love. I realise there could be "anons" out there who might not approve of my remakes but I think it sits perfectly with the spirit of make do and mend and have no qualms about making vintage items useable for the modern day.
On the subject of vintage clothes, for a few years now, I have been hunting for and falling in love with frocks from the '40s and '50s. I find them mainly at the '40s "dos" we attend at the steam railways. Below is the dress I wore for the shoot last week, this is a detail of the pocket, with all those gorgeous little buttons. I bought this last year at the railway event in Pickering from a brilliant vintage clothes dealer. This dress was like new really and it even fitted me so I confess it was a bit of a splurge but when your average Boden/Laura Ashley/Hobbs or similar dress gives you little change from £100, I still consider it a great buy.
This one I wore to the last Vintage and Handmade Fair. It needed a little mending but nothing too difficult.
This one is a '30s style drapey rayon which has a gorgeous poppy print. The seams are a little frayed in places so it's one to be worn sparingly to dances (which indeed I have done).
This dress below is made from the most beautiful 1950's rayon fabric. I fell in love with it on eBay and bid hard until it was mine! It has been (badly) altered so when I am in the mood, I will unpick the alterations and restore it to its original size which luckily, will be more like my own.
When we attend the 1940's events, I get very excited at the thought of finding some more original vintage fashion. Even if I find nothing for me (though I usually do!) I love seeing all the designs and patterns. They don't make frocks like these anymore.
I also have quite a collection of vintage housecoats and pinnies, attracted by the divine flowery cottons. More of those another day, perhaps.
Enjoy the weekend... xxx
Edit: The shoes are from good ole' M&S!