Saturday, 23 January 2016


My fashion story continues with this blouse and the skirt I made to match the coat on the first page.  We were learning about slimming styles for larger sizes and these side panels were recommended as a good idea.  The sewing machines we used also had an attachment for pin-tucking using 2 needles which was very effective.

As well as dressmaking I was a keen knitter and here I designed the pattern for this fair isle jumper and made a plain wool mini kilt to match.

I also discovered shirring elastic which gave a nice slimming effect on the top of this summer dress in cotton lawn.  I loved it so much I kept it for many years and altered it as you can see in the drawing for hotter weather.

At the end of the 2 year course we had a fashion show at the college where we were expected to produce two outfits to be modelled by professionals.  I made a jumpsuit in a synthetic voile and this dress in polka dotted cotton fabric.  The front diagonal seams gave me a lot of trouble stretching as I stitched and the teacher was a task master, making me unpick and re-sew at least 3 times but it was a good lesson in preparing the fabric with understitching before starting to make up.  These clothes had to be made in model size 8 so I never got the opportunity to wear them and anyway they disappeared after the show, probably taken by the models!

In June 1967 I finished the course at art college and gave birth to Justine a couple of weeks later so there's a bit of a gap now while I start my family life at the age of 18 with no time to sew and not enough money either!  By the middle of 1970 the marriage had broken down and I moved back into my Mum's home with my brother and sisters and 2 baby daughters.  I found the time again to sew and bought some leather scraps from the tailor in town to make belts and bags and this skirt which was a favourite for a long time. 

For my 21st birthday I made this gorgeous dress in fine cotton voile which I mounted on a white lining in the body part and left transparent on the sleeves.  I really loved this one and spent a lot of time and care sewing it having learned my lessons well at college.
At the college the course was split into 2 parts, wholesale manufacture and couture methods.  While I enjoyed the details of the couture classes, my heart lay with the wholesale making methods which concentrated on speed and efficiency and this stood me in good stead over the next few years as I could work at home making clothes for people and then as a home machinist for companies such a one of the suppliers of Harrods.  I only stopped doing this kind of work when I picked up a copy of Vogue in the dentist and saw the dress I had been working on the previous season for sale at £50.  I was quite shocked as I had only been paid £1.25 to make up the cut pieces which included rouleau loops on the bodice and a pleated skirt!