Book Giveaway

A very quick post today – apologies for the rather poor quality photographs but it was very gloomy first thing this morning!

Whilst looking for something else in a cupboard yesterday I came across this book and remembered that I have two copies, one I bought myself and one was given to me as a gift.


It is a lovely book which follows the history of the floral frock from the 1920s to the 1980s and there are some beautiful images of the dresses displayed both on mannequins and on some very glamorous models.  I particularly like the photographs contributed by some of the actual owners over the decades.  The close-up images of vintage fabrics are also inspiring.

I thought I’d give the second copy away to someone who would like to add it to their collection – it is perfect for anyone with a passion for vintage dresses.

Just leave a comment below and your name will go into the hat, with the winner being drawn sometime after midnight on Monday 7 December.  I’ll send it straight out so the lucky winner should get it before Christmas!

Shopping in Lyme Regis

Thank you to everyone for all the lovely comments on my last blog post which celebrated one year of Jane Makes.  The delay in responding to them was the result of being in Lyme Regis for a few days – a really lovely place but slightly lacking in phone signal and access to the internet!

My second ever blog post was all about a visit to Lyme Regis and it was great to be back exactly one year later.

On the way there we stopped off in Dorchester to stock up on essentials – wine, cheese, fruit and skis!  Yes, W spotted some skis in a sale so for the rest of the journey they were wedged in just over my right shoulder.


He is looking very pleased with himself.  All he needs now is some snow!

We were pretty lucky with the weather over the weekend, although it was VERY windy on the Saturday morning.  My friend and I were so deep in conversation as we walked out along the Cobb that we hadn’t noticed how bad it was until we stopped to look at the view.  We didn’t stay long enough to take a photograph!

I did manage some shots of this almost deserted beach in the sunshine.  There were some VERY brave swimmers in the water at one point!

On to more important things.  Lyme has some great shops and since our last visit several new independents have moved in.  This gave me the chance to continue with my pledge to do all my festive shopping in independent stores.  Here’s where I went.

The Writing Room.  Their website is coming shortly but in the meantime they are on Facebook here.  The owner is Janis Lane who is a writer but it was her husband, Rob, who was on duty on Sunday.  The tiny but beautifully presented shop stocks a range of very tempting stationery including fabric covered notebooks, fountain pens, cards and ink stamps as well as some vintage finds.

Some of us were in here for ages trying out pens and spending our money.  W peered in through the window from time to time wondering what we were up to!  One of my purchases was this little rabbit (or possibly hare) stamp. I’m a sucker for anything rabbit-related.

Next stop was Sew La Di Da Vintage in Broad Street.  The owner is certainly a character, not least because of her amazing hair!   Caroline also runs a sewing school in the nearby Town Mill development and has her own range of vintage-style sewing patterns.  Her latest project is The Doll Collective, a collection of fabric dolls in kit form for you to sew and dress in vintage clothing!  The first up is Lou Lou and she’s already had her first photoshoot which you can see here.  There’s no mention of the kits on the website at the moment as far as I can see but the packing and presentation is really smart.  Each kit comes with the pre-printed fabric for the doll, a tiny pattern for the dress and a pack of pretty decorative bits and pieces.  She even has her own fabric ‘fox’ fur!  I didn’t get a photograph of Lou Lou without her frock but she is printed with all her underwear, including stockings!

The kits weren’t on sale when we visited but I did come away with some new sewing shears.  I’d seen these before on Portia’s blog over at Makery and really liked their vintage look.  They also cut beautifully so I’m looking forward to using them on my next make.  You can see my little scissors badge from MIY Collection in the background!

Further up the hill is Ryder & Hinks with its vintage shop front.

The company are interior designers and I think this is their first foray into retail.  They sell an eclectic selection of things from dustpans to succulent plants.  I was tempted by a leather iPhone cover with a very fancy cable but decided it was a bit extravagant.  I did buy some lovely mohair socks as a birthday present for the friend we were staying with and a book with tear out sheets of beautifully printed Japanese papers.

My final shopping trip was to The Natural Fabric Store which is just outside Lyme in an old petrol station.  The redundant petrol pumps are still out the front.   The Rousdon Village Bakery is right next door – very handy as they serve coffee for people not interested in fabric.  I know, who would believe such people could exist?!

The owner, Lucy, was away but the person looking after the store was very friendly.  We had previously spotted her designs in another Lyme store owned by her sister but unfortunately I can’t remember its name.  The fabric stock isn’t extensive but is all great quality – mainly denims, linens and wools.  I was really looking for something for another casual Laurel dress but somehow came away with a metre of the purple boiled wool you can see in the bottom right of the picture below.  It was rather extravagant but it is absolutely divine.  I wish now that I’d splashed out on something like this for my boiled wool cardigan as I think it would have turned out more like I’d hoped.

The shop stocks Merchant & Mills patterns and having looked at these more closely I’m quite tempted by the Strand coat, not least because it has a side pocket AND and an in-seam pocket in the waist seam.

Whilst the store doesn’t run classes, there is the opportunity to hire the machines on the big cutting table by the hour – by yourself or bring your friends along.   There are some really heavy duty machines there.  Lucy says on the website that she is on hand to help out if you need her – either with your sewing or getting a coffee from the bakery.  There were some seriously good looking brownies in there when we visited and the croissants are the size of a small loaf!

I think that was it on the shopping front!  The rest of the time was spent walking, chatting, eating and drinking wine/local beer!




In my last post I announced my eschewing of RTW clothing but also mentioned that I may not be quite so self-controlled when it comes to buying fabric.  Josie at the Fabric Godmother held her second open day on Saturday and the temptation was almost overwhelming!  The place was bursting at the seams with an fabulous array of fabrics (and sewists) and there was some serious swooning going on!

One of my main reasons for going along was to meet up with Becky from springystitches.  I’ve been following Becky’s blog for some while and she was one of my original inspirations.  She was as lovely in real life as I thought she would be and she was wearing this very dress on Saturday.  Given the amazing choice I think we were both pretty restrained.  I had planned in advance to buy some of this mustard denim and I wasn’t disappointed.  It is great quality and I think may become another Brumby skirt.

I really love the shape of this skirt which I have previously made in grey denim but the fabric is just a bit too stiff and I feel rather like I’m wearing a cardboard skirt!  I also failed to master the exposed zip the first time round so there is unfinished business here.

Becky and I both homed in on the Venice Modal and Silk Jersey which is the softest, smoothest fabric ever!  I went for the Plum.  The picture on the website doesn’t really do it justice and I’m not sure my own picture does either.  It is so silky I suspect it will shown every bump so will have to be made into something drapey.  I certainly won’t be using it for my first overlocker project, I have something very cheap and cheerful for that!


That was it for me – just two purchases (plus some matching thread) but there were several other fabrics I had a good look at which may end up being ordered online.

On our way to Hove we decided to call into Emmaus in Portslade.  Emmaus is a world-wide organisation which enables people to move on from homelessness into a supportive community.  The residents are known as Companions and work full time collecting and reselling donated items.  Our first experience of Emmaus was in France where we visited an enormous complex with room after room piled high with crockery, glassware, pictures, books, fabrics, tools and, most incredibly, complete sets of 1950s kitchen units! I do sometimes regret that I didn’t buy some of the French linens which were considerably cheaper than I’ve seen them elsewhere.  Another time perhaps.

The set up in Portslade is much smaller with a shop, a café and a garden centre.  There was some promising looking vintage clothing and a really beautiful art deco cabinet but what we actually came away with was a pair of vintage motorcycling goggles for W!  I hope you’re ready for this photograph.

You may be able to make out some writing on the box in blue biro which reads “glaze this area only”.  Someone has obviously had the goggles glazed with their own prescription lenses and what is amazing is that this appears to match W’s own prescription.  He’s thinking of making use of them on the ski slopes this season.   He’ll certainly attract some attention!



Back in Time

W and I have just come back from a few days away, the majority of that time spent in an 18th Century stocking weaver’s home in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. The property is owned by the Landmark Trust and if you are not familiar with the work of the Trust, do check out their website.  We’ve had some great times in these historic buildings, one of the best was at Saddell House on the Mull of Kintyre where we spent a few days before Christmas with one of my school friends, her teenage boys (plus friends) and her partner.  She and I played at being Mrs Bridges and Ruby (from the original version of Upstairs Downstairs), rustling up vast quantities of food in the huge kitchen with no access to any shops once we’d arrived.  I like to think I was better qualified to be Mrs Bridges with my O Level in Food & Nutrition!  When they weren’t eating (or sleeping) the boys spent a good deal of their time running a table tennis tournament in the basement.  They were surprised to find that W was an expert who was determined to win (and did).

Back to the 18th Century stocking weavers.  Having read up on the history of the house they certainly didn’t enjoy an easy life, although those living in the houses in this row would have had a better time of things as they were part of a co-operative rather than working in a factory.  The house is on four floors with vertiginous stairways between each floor – to be treated with caution after a glass of wine or two in the evening!  If your preference is for modern luxury then the Landmark may not be the right choice but the opportunity to spend time surrounded by history is pretty special.

The weaving looms look pretty complicated – and large.  I think they must have either been assembled in situ or perhaps brought in through the large window on the first floor?

The houses are filled with furniture, books and pictures relevant to the area and period and these two embroideries were on one of the landings.  I wonder at what point Harriot Webb realised she wasn’t going to be able to fit the whole of the second line of verse in on the right hand sampler?

I stuck with the yarn theme while I was in the house by carrying on with my crocheted blanket which has been stuck at a lap blanket size for some time.  I think there are now enough new squares for a couple more rows to be added.


Highlights of the week :

  • A visit to Ledbury and some shopping in Tinsmiths and Hus & Hem (described as a Smörgåsbord of Scandinavian design).  I was able to make a start on my Christmas shopping pledge to stick with buying from independent shops.  I did buy some fabric, more on that another time.
  • A trip on the GWR steam railway (W’s choice)
  • A visit to the Gordon Russell Design Museum in Broadway.  For anyone with an interest in furniture design this is a must and as it was a quiet morning I had a personal tour from one of the volunteers.  Broadway itself has to be one of the most immaculate villages in the country.  Even the fruit and veg display at the deli was perfect!
  • More shopping in Ludlow including a lovely shop called Black Bough and a great lunch at The Green Café.
  • Ludlow Castle in glorious September sunshine.
  • The Ludlow Period House Shop.  The complete opposite of Broadway – this was the most chaotic shop I have ever seen full of all manner of items for anyone restoring a period house.  It was absolutely fascinating.  We were very tempted by the Irish made grandfather and night shirts.

One thing I did reflect on while I was away was my dependence on my mobile phone and internet access.  There is no WiFi in Landmark properties – they don’t even have televisions – and 3/4G was intermittent.  I was concerned to realise just how grumpy I felt at not being able to access IG, Twitter, iPlayer Radio etc. when I wanted to.  There was one advantage – I had decided to limit my viewing of work emails while I was away and in the end I had no choice a lot of the time.

I’m not sure what the answer is because phones and tablets are now so omnipresent it is hard to remember or imagine life without them.  Hila at Saturday Night Stitch is currently without a mobile and this is her very interesting blog post on the subject.  I’m sure lots of you have a view on this subject!

Annual Fig Harvest

No sewing this weekend as I was working yesterday but I did bake a fig tart for Sunday lunch. We have a fig tree in our garden which has grown from a small plant in a pot into an enormous tree. The original plant was compensation from a local DIY store after a health & safety incident involving W, a swinging garden seat display and a lack of proper construction on their part!  I wasn’t present at the time so I’m not able to report exactly what happened but he came home with a fig tree!

We picked 16 beautiful ripe figs the other evening (another potential health & safety incident)  and I used this recipe to make two really delicious tarts (one for the freezer).

On a sewing-related topic, readers of this blog may remember my post about the blouse my grandmother made for my mother back in 1945.

My sister and I were with our parents today and there was a photograph of the Queen in their Saturday paper, possibly from the same year, wearing an almost identical blouse.

Who copied who???

A Vintage Treasure

I’m having a couple of days away from the sewing machine after finishing the last Refashion and before starting on the Brumby skirt as part of the Made Up Initiative.

In the meantime I know there are lots of you out there who love a vintage frock so I thought I’d share this one with you.  Back in 2010 there was a collaboration between Wayne Hemingway and the Earl of March at Goodwood which became the Vintage at Goodwood Festival.  Great fun was had by all but sadly it was a never to be repeated event at Goodwood, although the Hemingways have continued the theme at events around the country in subsequent years.

We still have the Goodwood Revival every September but that is much more focused on the vehicles (and way too busy for me), whereas Vintage was all about fashion, music, film and design from the 40s to the 80s.  One of my favourite memories is of the collection of vintage caravans which had been restored to perfection.

I borrowed a lovely 1950s frock from our local WI headquarters.  They used to have a basement full of vintage clothing which they hired out but I can’t find anything about it online so perhaps they’ve stopped.  We did manage to find this photographs of me wearing it – it was a lot busier at the festival than it looks, I think a band had just finished playing so everyone had moved off!   The borrowed dress was slightly damaged so I did repair it, dealt with a couple of stains and gave it a good wash. It certainly went back in an improved condition!

Vintage at Goodwood

The music and entertainment were amazing and W spent a very happy time in the Northern Soul tent.  There are photographs of that too but I’ll spare you.  There were hair and beauty salons, a vintage high street, make do and mend sewing sessions and lots of vintage china serving cups of tea.  I loved it.

I was especially excited when I spotted this Horrockses dress and I couldn’t resist buying it.  The company was very well-known and respected in the 1940s and 50s and there was a lovely exhibition of frocks at The Fashion & Textile Museum in London not long after I bought this one.  It isn’t a perfect fit, slightly too big, but I have worn it on several occasions and the full skirt with the crisp and swishy petticoat underneath is really special.  I always feel like a character from a Barbara Pym novel when I’m wearing it, drinking tea with the vicar and discussing the merits or otherwise of the new young curate!  That’s twice I’ve mentioned tea in this post and I never, ever drink it!

Here’s the frock, modelled by the ever willing Doris.

The dress has unusual square inserts under each arm (shown above), presumably for reinforcement, and the collar is very neatly bound.  I love the fabric which is in very good condition, there are only a couple of tiny marks which have never shifted in the wash and the petticoat layer still has plenty of body. We’re off to a wedding Reception on Saturday evening, maybe I’ll give the Horrockses an outing!


Vintage Treasures

After a nomination for this blog by springystitches as part of The Inspirational Blogger Award I started following Mrs Fox’s Finery.   This blog is a riot of colour, vintage finds and creativity.

Her description of a visit to Arnage – the Home of Vintage was an inspiration in itself so on a brief visit to Midhurst recently I took the opportunity see for myself.  There’s not much I can say that Mrs Fox hasn’t already said and she took some great photographs of the interior.  Beverley, the owner, is absolutely lovely and the shop is a real treasure trove for all things vintage.  It is definitely worth a visit.  Everything is presented so beautifully and there was a truly gorgeous skirt in the window.  The sun was shining so my photograph really doesn’t do it justice.

I wasn’t planning to buy anything but the minute I walked through the door and spotted this 1920s wicker hat box I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave without it.  I did think I would save it for a Christmas present but I’m not so sure now.  It still has a luggage label on it from 1961 as well as a little Italian security stamp.  It is in very good condition, inside and out, and I love it.

I don’t have a hat to carry around when I go away so perhaps I’ll just fill it with fabric.

Thank you for the recommendation Mrs Fox.


A Sewing History

W was away at another festival this weekend so I was free to fill my time with lots of creative activities.

My sister and I spent Sunday at my parents and when my mother suddenly appeared with a cardboard box and demanded “come here you two” we thought we were in trouble. Thankfully not!  She’d been having another clear out and produced this beautiful tablecloth and napkins which were given to my grandmother as a wedding present in the 1930s (I’m showing my age now!).  It is hand embroidered but whether it was made by someone she knew we’ll never know.

My sister very generously said I could have it and it has already been on a tentative run through the washing machine at 30° and is looking brighter.  I might be a bit bolder with a gentle stain remover on some small marks next time.  I am definitely going to make use of this, perhaps a vintage~style tea party.


Next out of the box was this little blouse.  I can remember seeing it occasionally over the years and always thinking it was really sweet.  It was made by my grandmother for my mum during the last months of the Second World War because she was going to have her photograph taken.   Fabric was obviously hard to come by because of rationing so I think it was possibly made quite short with elastic round the bottom to hold it in place under a pinafore dress.

It was coming apart at the seams under the arms so I repaired it last night and gave it a quick wash and press to revive it.  It has french seams and is fastened by press studs under the frill so the buttons are just decorative.  It was lovely to handle this little garment and think about my grandmother having made it all those years ago.

And here is my mother wearing it on the 13 April 1945.  Apparently when they arrived at the photographer they realised my mother had lost one of her hair ribbons so there was a mad dash to replace them.  I’m not sure where my grandmother managed to find these at the last minute!  One thing I have definitely inherited from my mother is the unruly hair!


My sister didn’t miss out.  She already has this adorable little vintage brooch, again from my grandmother, and yesterday she added this amazing bracelet to her collection.  It still has the original elastic holding it together.

My grandmother was quite a stylish lady, here’s a photograph of her in her twenties – very daring – and one of my grandfather who was a real character.

Further reports on the weekend’s activities to follow.