Vintage Crochet Podcast - Ep3 - I Can Knit! - YouTube
Well hello! I’m so sorry it’s been so long since my last post – I think, in fact, this has been my longest ever absence from the blog. Life has been very hectic over the last six weeks or so, and unfortunately something had to give. Things are still a bit crazy but I’m hoping it will all calm done by the beginning of October and I should be back to my regular schedule again. Keep your fingers crossed! And, whilst the chaos and lack of posts continues, you can always keep up-to-date with my shenanigans over on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Anyway, to keep you up-to-date with my crocheting, I’ve managed to put together a new episode of the vintage crochet projects podcast. I haven’t actually achieved a massive amount since my last one but I have overcome an enormous yarn-shaped hurdle that has challenged me for years. If you’re interested to find out what that is, please have a watch. And as always, I really appreciate the support!
A special mention goes to my lovely friend Kitty, from Kitty Lou Vintage, who knitted the stunning 1930s jumper I’m wearing in this video. The pattern is available for free on The Vintage Pattern Files website. It was knitted using Cascade 220 Fingering in colour 8393 Navy and the buttons are vintage. And apologies if the video is a little dark, especially towards the end, it got very stormy outside and I lost the light!
Up until recently, 2018 seemed to be a bit of a bust when it came to my sewing. For the first five months the only thing I actually managed to sew was my Grevillea Beret, mainly because I was concentrating so much on crocheting. I think the reason I did this was because of the weather. For most of the first half of 2018 it was miserable and grey every single day and all I wanted to do was curl up on the sofa, watch box sets and crochet. It was actually rather relaxing, which was something I needed after how insanely busy my day job has got this year. That in itself, is one of the biggest reasons my blogging, and blog reading, has been rather sporadic this year.
However, my sewing mojo seems to be well and truly back and I’m now ploughing on with all of the plans I talked about in the podcast for my 1930s holiday wardrobe. I’ve already made a gorgeous nautical 1930s top and a very snazzy pair of matching shorts. I made the shorts as a wearable toile for the red ones I have planned and they actually turned out beautifully. I’m really pleased with them and they have been a godsend in the current scorching weather we’re now having.
Having completed those two pieces, my mind is now fully focused on the pink 1930s beach pyjamas above. You may remember me mentioning these previously in my sewing and crochet plans, where I showed you the enormous pattern sheet I was tracing the pattern from. (You can also see this crazy pattern sheet in the podcast I’ve linked to above – start watching at about 9.20 minutes in).
There was no way I was going to damage the pattern sheet in any way, so the first job was to get it photocopied. As it’s about the size of an A0 piece of paper, i.e. huge, I had to get this done carefully. Thankfully my mum is the manager of an office stationery shop and had just had a brand new photocopier delivered. However, it couldn’t copy anything bigger than A2, so mum and I spent about an hour painstakingly copying each section on the front and the back, so I had every single pattern piece for every single pattern.
Next it was on to sellotaping these sheets together and, trust me, this was no mean feat. Trying to match up every single overlapping line of the patterns took forever. So far I’ve only done it on the side where the beach pyjama pattern pieces were as I just wanted to get on with the project. Anyway, once it was all stuck together, tracing the pieces of was remarkably easy.
Then it was on to figuring out what adjustments I wanted to make to the top half and how I wanted the fabric to be cut. (Please excuse how roughly drawn these are, I woke up in the middle of the night and had a moment of inspiration. As a result, they were all drawn through blurry eyes!)
The reason I was making adjustments to the top part was because I have to wear a bra and the original design wouldn’t allow for this without being blatantly obvious. The easiest way to change the design was by raising the back part to cover the back strap of the bra. However, my next problem was the front. As it was more of a halter style, as illustrated (badly) above, it would mean a strapless bra and, when you have a DD chest, strapless bras don’t exactly hold you up that well. So, instead of looking forward to spending my time heaving my bra up all day, I decided the front should have a more standard shape and should have straps at the back to cover the bra straps.
Initially, I came up with this idea, with a yoke created in a plain fabric that would go all the way around the top of the front and the back sections. The straps would also be in the plain fabric, with the rest in stripes. I really liked this idea but then I started thinking about the short kimono style jacket I wanted to make to go over it and I was worried that with such a high neck like at the front, that it wouldn’t feel all that summery.
So, then I decided on more of a strap front and had a play about with how they would work. The first one stuck to the same principal of a plain yoke around the top of the front and back and the straps already attached in the same plain fabric. Then I remembered the stunning 1930s beach pyjamas that I first fell in love with, the ones made by Marianne at Fintage.net.
Marianne’s had straps that attached to the top with buttons, both on the front and the back. Yes, this was what I wanted to do. I still continued with the idea of the plain yoke around the top but I still wasn’t quite sure about it. I also played with how the stripes would sit but the idea of matching those stripes down the centre front terrified me!
Then I spotted this amazing pattern from 1941 online and in my mind I instantly knew how I wanted mine to look. I would follow exactly the same stripe directions on each piece but have the button on straps like Marianne’s. The trousers would remain the same super wide shape as the original 1930s pattern and not like the more ration-friendly narrow cut with turn-ups of this one. I would also stick to the original pattern’s patch pockets, rather than the side pockets on the 1941, as these are much easier to do and look much more 1930s.
And this is a super rough drawing of what they’ll look like. I may or may not do the belt with a buckle as illustrated, I’ll decide once they’re all done. The original 1930s pattern has a belt that just buttons up at the back, which may work better. I decided to forgo the plain yoke, mainly because I think the fabric (which you’ll see in a minute) speaks for itself and it just wouldn’t add anything extra.
So, after much faffing with the pattern and the dart placement to create the bust shaping, I finally put together a toile that fitted perfectly. The calico I used to make this, my third toile, was very kindly donated to me by William Gee, the fabulous haberdashery shop. If you’ve never heard of them before, they have a brilliant selection of everything you need for your sewing projects. I first discovered them when I was on the hunt for some suitable interlining for my 1930s winter coat and they helpfully answered all my questions about weight and stiffness and advised the best ones to use for my particular project. I was very impressed.
Oh, and just in case you’re wondering if I’d suddenly decided to make these as a playsuit, rather than beach pyjamas, then be assured these will still be full length. I always do short versions of trousers and skirts when mocking up a piece so as not to waste the calico. As long as I can make sure they fit across my hips, bum and thighs, then I’m happy.
And this is the amazing fabric and how it was cut out. I love all the different directions of the stripes, it’s so 1930s! The fabric itself is from the UK clothing brand Seasalt, who are now offering lengths of the fabric they use in their clothing.
This is a beautiful cotton linen mix and was made ethically in India. Yay for ethical fabric! It hangs beautifully and has a decent enough weave to it that it’s not quite see-through, something I really struggle with. It’s also got a lovely handmade feel too, with the yarn being dyed before it was woven, so the colour stripes have the ivory threads just visible within the weave.
William Gee also kindly sent me this gorgeous box of Coats Moon 120 sewing threads in their Tropical colour range. There’s actually 150 different colours in total to choose from, all available on their website, and they’re great threads. I’ve used them for years and have never had any issues with them. They’re really good value too, just £1 for 1000 yards of thread. At that price they’re great for using on the overlocker when you need to use three or fours threads.
I love how the yellow thread from this box matches the yellow stripe in the fabric and I’m using it for top stitching on my beach pyjamas. It’s not as thick as a proper top stitch thread, but I want it to be a subtle detail, rather than overly showy.
And here they are with the bodice and trousers all sewn together. Aren’t they amazing? The trouser legs are sooooo wide! Here the straps are just off-cuts of fabric I’ve pinned on to show how it will look, but I still have the proper ones to do. I’ve also got to add all of the buttons and buttonholes down the left hand side. The button plackets are all in place ready for them to be done.
Then it’s on to the big patch pockets for the back and hemming the trouser bottoms. Finally I’ll decide on what belt to make and they’ll all be done. I’m hoping to get them finished by the time I go down to Devon in August, but I especially want them for my trip to Spain later on. Now I just need to find a nice multiway bra that I can wear underneath!
Continuing on from my first vintage crochet podcast, here is the second in this series about the finished, current and future vintage crocheting projects I’m working on. In this episode I talk about the 1930s gingham jumper I featured on the blog a few weeks ago, a 1930s tailored cardigan in peach cotton that I’ve been working on for nearly a year, a pair of 1940s crochet espadrilles, a simple 1930s cardigan and a 1930s lace jumper.
Funnily enough, I featured all of these in my Sewing & Crocheting Plans for 2018 post back in early February. For once I’m actually sticking to my plans and not deviating at all, something that is very rare when it comes to my sewing!
And, as I’ve been coming across different patterns, I’ve already started planning my crocheting projects for next year. So far I have a 1930s swagger coat that Carla from Tiny Angry Crafter sent me, two 1930s short sleeve jumpers, one in grey and bright pink and one using original 1930s crochet cotton in the most beautiful ice blue and possibly a 1930s summer dress, although I can’t quite decide on which pattern to use. There’s just not enough time to crochet everything I want to make!
Anyway, I’ve added the links below to the different patterns, yarn and supplies I mention in the podcast. I do hope you enjoy it!
A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of going to The Watercress Line Railway for their War on the Line event. This annual event, based down near Alresford, Hampshire, UK, explores what it was like on the railways during WWII.
It’s an event like no other, with everything focused around the amazingly restored steam trains and beautiful 1940’s platform buildings. And with plenty of reenactors walking about in period costume and educational demonstrations, you almost feel as if you’ve actually been transported back in time to the Blitz.
The Watercress Line railway was built in 1865 and played an important part during World War Two due to its location between the Army centre of Aldershot and the sea port of Southampton. It now operates as one of the most successful heritage railways in the country and, with four individual platform stops, it provides the perfect setting for such an event.
Our day started at Ropley station where they had a variety of 1940s vehicles on display, from personal cars right up to a huge fire engine. This cute Austin 7, used by an ARP warden, was my favourite. It reminded me of Bugsy Malone and I almost expected Dandy Dan’s hoodlums to come running up with splurge guns!
Moving on to the station buildings we came across this sign asking for donations to help pay for the restoration of the Canadian Pacific 35005, which was originally built by a mostly female workforce. The CanPac, as it was nicknamed, was used for troop and freight movements during the Second World War, which is why it’s such an amazing project for The Watercress Line. You can read more about it here.
Inside the main building was a mock up of a typical station masters parlour, complete with the most amazing wallpaper. I would’ve happily have moved in straight way!
After tasting the weird and wonderful cakes that had been made using genuine rationing recipes, we went into the waiting room and sat patiently until our train arrived. You can see the two colours of buttermilk yellow and emerald green on the wall behind me, which were used throughout the railway. They’re so typical of this period and were popular as a combination in the 1930s and 40s.
I’m wearing my late 1930s tulip dress that I made last year. It’s teamed with my late 1930s hat that I blocked, an original 1940s Cordé handbag and yellow shoes by Hotter. Although you don’t see it here, I was also wearing my original 1930s black wool coat, as it was really quite cold that day. The weather had brutally changed that weekend and it rained on and off throughout the day.
Finally, our train arrived and we hopped on it, heading down the line to Alresford. Once there, we hopped off and had a look around the station buildings. We watched and enjoyed the dancers showing off their jive moves and had a quick chat with the lady who was running the only stall we came across all day (I’ll come back to that in a minute!). Then we walked into the small town centre. Unfortunately being a Sunday, everything, apart from the pubs, was closed, so after a quick wander around the tiniest antiques fair, we headed back to the train.
The carriage we chose to head back up the line in was actually used in the Harry Potter film, The Deathly Hallows part 1. (I think I got that right, but shock horror, I’m not a Harry Potter fan, so don’t quote me on it!) Anyway, it was a gorgeous carriage with lovely plush seats and tables, something that was rather important at this juncture, as we had decided to eat our picnic on the train and ride all the way up to the Alton station.
These two MPs, who looked more like they should be in Dad’s Army than Military Police (sorry guys!), tried to confiscate our prosecco through the train’s window, but thankfully the train pulled away in time for us to keep hold of it.
Arriving at Alton station we were treated to the gorgeous singing of Becki Short, a 1940s performer who specialises in 1930s, 40s and 50s songs. Her voice is just perfect for this period, with such clarity and softness, and she reminded me of Judy Garland. It was a joy to listen to.
Apart from enjoying Becki’s performance, there wasn’t really anything much else to do at Alton station, which was a shame as there was quite a wait for the train to go back down the line. However, it did give us the chance to talk to this incredible woman. Alma, at the age of 96, was there with her son, who you can see in the photo above her in the naval uniform, his wife, their daughter and her husband and two boys, but it was her we wanted to talk to.
You see, Alma was in the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) and she transported bombs to the aircraft used by the Dam Busters by truck, driving them all on her own. I had to shake her hand. Seriously, what a woman to stumble across. We had a truly wonderful chat and she told us that even now, at her amazing age, still drives her self about and won’t give up her independance. Honestly, she is my absolute hero.
Oh, and when she took her hat off, she had the most beautiful finger waves across the top of her hair. I was in absolute awe!
Dragging ourselves away from Alma we headed back to the last station to visit, Medstead & Four Marks. Here we came across the Victory Stores, a temporary shop set up on the platform after their original one was bombed. Inside it had the most amazing display of 1940s goods that would’ve been purchased with your ration stamps. I was particularly intrigued by the chocolate, something that was very rarely purchased during the war as those stamps had to be stretched a long way. But look, blue KitKat wrappers!
Then it was back on the train to head home. Very annoyingly, the next day, when looking at everyone else’s photos on Instagram, I realised that we had missed a whole area of event. It was strange, because during the day, we were saying that it was weird that we’d only seen one stall selling any vintage items. This was the perfect event for vintage sellers and we thought it was something that had perhaps been overlooked.
But no, somehow, we’d missed the section where there was stalls, we’d also missed the Glenn Miller Tribute Band, the radio display and the bomb disposal. I blame a combination of the fact that I was focusing on filming and taking photos, so had given the map to my parents and the fact that it was so cold. My mind just wasn’t concentrating on what was going on as much as it normally would have.
Oh well, it was a great day out nonetheless and I’ll just have to go back next year to make sure I don’t miss those bits again or, perhaps, head down to their Christmas Leave event during the holidays. No matter what, I’m sure I’ll be heading that way again some time, it really is such a beautiful place to experience and I’d highly recommend it.
War on The Line 2018 - The Watercress Line Railway - YouTube
And if you’re interested in seeing a whistle stop tour of the whole War on the Line event (minus the bits we missed!) have a watch of my video. It’s only a couple of minutes long and shows you more than what I’ve featured here. I hope you enjoy it, it’s the first one I’ve done like this, so I know there’s a few things I can improve on.
Disclaimer: I’d just like to say a huge thank you The Watercress Line for gifting me tickets to the War on the Line event. All views expressed are my own honest opinions and reflect my own personal experience.