Monday, December 20, 2010

And the winner is...!

 At last I have had the chance to look through all 88 entries for the Givaway Event and after much deliberation have decided upon Becka in Minneapolis as the winner. I was very impressed with her comments about making a 60s style garment as a reminder of her visit to the Horrockses exhibition at the V and A in London this summer. The fabric and garment will be, as she says, be a lovely reminder of that visit - Auntie would approve as I remember her wearing some Horrockses dresses when I was very young.

For those not familiar with the name, (or old enough to remember it!) Horrockses Fashions was one of most respected ready-to-wear labels of the late 40s and 50s. Founded in 1946 the company concentrated on the production of quality womenswear, beach clothes, housecoats and children's attire. Although produced in considerable quantities, the firm maintained an air of exclusivity with an emphasis on good quality fabrics - especially cotton - with custom-designed patterns and couture styling. Horrockses' designs had a distinctive look, celebrated for their lively floral prints and full-skirted summer dresses. The label also collaborated with contemporary artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi, Alastair Morton and Graham Sutherland to create alluring designs for their fabrics. Drawing together a wide range of archival material, ranging from magazine spreads to interviews with former employees and consumers, "Horrockses: Off-the-Peg Fashion" told  the story of this iconic label and its role in the history of the British high street, while also exploring the connections between couture and ready-to-wear fashions in the post-war decades.

If you didn't get a chance to see the exhibition, or even if you did, the book which was produced to accompany it is still available from Amazon via the link attached. The photos alone make it worthwhile buying and its great for once to see a book about the sort of everyday fashions (not overly expensive) which everyone could wear at the time.Because there were so many wonderful entries I am thinking of posting off one or two other items in addition to the remnant above! I wish I could give you all something, but the postage alone would be a problem. However, watch out for tips and stuff from now on and maybe a pattern or two before long, which doesn't involve any postage either!

Have a wonderful Christmas all, wherever in the world you are, I hope you get where you want to be despite the snow if you have any.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snowed in and snowed under!

A big thanks and a warm welcome to everyone who entered the Giveaway Day event, the time for entering has now closed! There were a surprisingly large number of entries and I will now take some time to consider each one carefully and award a winner. Look out for more details in a day or two. I will not be going anywhere for a few days anyway (even to post the item off as yet) as this part of Oxfordshire is snowed in this morning! All todays events for us have had to be cancelled as several inches of snow fell overnight and its still falling.

Some of the bag making supplies are still held up in the post somewhere after 10 days too. Thankfully I went shopping yesterday so we have plenty of food and the house is nice and warm. My cat Tabitha loves playing in the snow (she has a lovely thick warm coat on) but unfortunately she brought into the kitchen a poor dead yellow hammer this morning, a beautiful little bird, probably caught as it was desperately seaching for food in the snow. She has now given up terrorising the local wild life now and is sitting on my window sill as you can see! If you have snow wherever you are in the world at the moment, take care and keep warm and safe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Get ready for Giveaway Day!

Hi Folks, the supplies for the vintage bagmaking ideas are stuck in the post somewhere in the snow, so no samples as yet, but pics will go up soon.

 In the meantime, I want to tell you that December 13th is Giveaway Day and  I am participating this year. For those who don't know its an event organised by a US retailer of fabrics and other sewing supplies. They have online tutorials and stuff to encourage everyone to sew. On Giveaway Day online  bloggers give away an item on their sites, go to  to see the participating list. Each site will have its own criteria for giving away; you may have to answer a question, show something you've made, etc. to win the item. The whole point is to encourage sewing, the writing of good blogs about it and the exchange of information.

I am giving away one of Auntie's remnants from the 60s as seen in the photo above. It's made of dress weight cotton fabric, ideal for a garment or for quilting or whatever you fancy, it's unused, completely new but recently washed. The piece is 2.75 metres in length and 89cm wide. For our American cousins a metre is 39 inches or just over a yard. The width is 35 inches.

To bag yourself a piece of 60s London, just sign up as a follower, then tell me what you would like to do with it and why in the comments section. If you win, we'd all love to see a photo of what you've made too, but its not compulsory! 
The link again is -

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

All washed and ready to go!

Whilst studying for my MA Textiles some years ago, I concentrated on conceptual textile art. Since then my day job has been as a designer for functional items, bags and cases for all types of products. I am also a tutor on all the OCA Textiles degree courses. When my dear auntie Frances died last year, I was lucky enough to inherit a large collection of her dressmaking remnants, hidden away for many years. Most are from the 1960s, some from the 70s and a few are even from the 50s.  Looking through them is  like a snapshot of the past, a rummage through time and space and memory. I was actually with her when she bought many of them and the memories came flooding back.  Some were pieces left over from dresses I made for her in my spare time whilst at secondary school (she was single, a CEO, a successful career woman ahead of her time). The dresses have long gone; I wish I had some still, as its strangely often these personal items without financial value which have so much meaning in life. For an excellant discussion on just this subject I would direct you to My Mother's Wedding Dress - The Fabric of Our Lives by Justine Picardie. This book was recommended to me by Sarah Braddock-Clarke, a fellow OCA Textiles tutor earlier this year. You might in turn be familiar with her wondeful book, Techno Textiles which is a standard book for students nowadays.

 But what to do with all those wondeful remnants?  I was taught in art school to let the design process dictate the choice of materials and not the other way around. When I'm commissioned to a case for a medical product (to be worn on a patient in hospital) it needs to pass the necessary safety standards, be hygenically wipeable and to look appropriate. Handbags on the other hand, can be  made out of almost anything- beautiful exotic fabrics for evening, strong cotton for summer, plastics, recycled packaging even. So the starting point to me suggests bags again, even if taking a more conceptual approach. I have to add that Auntie was also a handbag fanatic ahead of her time. We used to get the train from Ely to London on many a Saturday for a rummage around Libertys sale. The few I have also inherited are all in lavender, her favourite colour. I also found one very tatty dress pattern from the mid 60s, some now vintage cotton reels, some packs of bias binding and a few other notions which fell out of the remnants. Again this suggests a return to my textile roots in perhaps a more conceptual way than I would have used them whilst at secondary school. In the meantime if you've made any creative textiles from  fabric personal to you, I would love to hear from you.