Sunday, 20 May 2018

Howarth 1940s Weekend

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Although it was my fifth one as a widow, it's still not the easiest of days to get through. And people talking about weddings wasn't going to help.

Which was, all things considered, unfortunate.

The only solution was to go out and do something. So I headed over to Yorkshire, and the Howarth 1940s weekend. This event has been running for over 20 years and takes over the entire village; visitors are encouraged to come in costume, and many do. As this was my first time visiting I can't say if the competing attractions of the royal wedding and the FA Cup final kept many people away, but the place was absolutely packed.

Most of the action took place on Howarth's picturesque, cobbled (and steep) Main Street. The Home Guard were based at the bottom.

That's a lot of camouflage

This lady must have regretted posing for a photograph; she was stuck there for ages as we all took snaps!

Running repairs

I have no idea what these chaps were doing, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Judging from the bottle, wine may have been involved

Slightly further up the street were military and civilian vehicles.

Vintage cars

Nurses by a military truck

Lots of the shops entered into spirit of things.

My kind of shopping!

It was impossible to get a good photo of Main Street, as it was always full of people. This one was taken late in the afternoon, when things were getting a bit quieter. It gives some idea of just how steep the street is.

Can you believe that people cycle up here? For fun?

Just to prove that I really was in Howarth, and not just any Yorkshire village.

The Parsonage gets a 1940s look

The Parsonage, from the churchyard

There were a few utterly bemused tourists around, who had come for the Bront√ęs, and hadn't realized that there was anything else going on!

You would be confused, if you saw this!

As is obvious from the photographs, it was very sunny and very warm. I didn't think a rolled hairdo would survive the drive over, so had just put my hair in a snood. As the day wore on, I came to regret not wearing a hat to keep the sun off. Certainly I was grateful for the fact that I'd worn my 1943 Simplicity pattern dress, which is made from a thin rayon: for the lovely lady in the Rosie the Riveter costume I was talking to about it, the details of making the dress are here.

It was a long drive there and back, but a very good day, and certainly achived the aim of keeping me occupied.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Colwyn Bay Forties Festival

Better late than never - here at last is my write-up of this year's Colwyn Bay Forties Festival.

Sadly the weather on the Sunday was not at all good, so most of my time was spent admiring the indoor displays. These have expanded a lot since my last visit in 2016. As well as the pop-up museum, which was full of everyday objects from life in the 1940s, there were lots of display boards about various aspects of life in wartime.

'Washing day' in the pop-up museum

One of the display boards

Best of all from my point of view, Weddings of Yesteryear were there with a fabulous display of 1940s wedding dresses and memorabilia.

I loved the neckline details on this dress

So glamorous

Cardboard 'cakes' were hired out by bakers once food rationing began

It wasn't just white wedding dresses. This bridesmaid's dress featured beautiful embroidery and beadwork.

Bridesmaid's dress with flowers, birds and butterflies

Close-up of the bodice

Embroidery and beadwork on the skirt

My favourite though was this smart blue and white ensemble. I couldn't work out whether the blue details were applied, or if the white fabric was cut away.

So 1940s!

Close-up of the bodice

Several of the shops had created 1940s window displays.

Taped windows, and period items for sale in the hospice shop

The staff in the Glass Lounge Coffee Shop really looked the part, with 1940s clothing and hair. I went in there for a warming cup of tea, and met a group of photographers who had had the same idea. As a result I can finish off with that rarest of things, a photograph of me which isn't taken in my back yard! Thanks to Sue Harris of Ellesmere Port Photographic Society for the image.

Dress my own design, hat from Heritage Re-loved, snood from Apple Tree Vintage

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Festival of Vintage, York

It feels like an age since I went to the Festival of Vintage at York racecourse, but actually it's only a couple of weeks ago. As I mentioned before, I dressed up for the occasion. I felt quite self-conscious setting off from the hotel; but the closer I got to the racecourse the more people I spotted in similar dress, and by the time I joined the queue to get in, it was wall-to-wall vintage.

I've only previously been to local vintage fairs in Chester and Liverpool, so nothing prepared me for the scale of this. Outside there was a large display of vintage cars to be admired.

Admiring the cars . . .

They also provided a backdrop for lots of photos.

. . . and posing beside them

Inside, one building was devoted to the dancefloor and to modern reproduction clothing. This was where I got my 1940s hat, from Heritage Re-loved.

Re-modelled from an old plush hat

The main building contained four floors of stalls selling vintage clothing, furniture, accessories and homewares. The first thing I looked for was vintage handkerchiefs, as I'd decided that amid all this vintage, blowing my nose on a paper tissue just wasn't right!

Once that was attended to, I could have a proper look round. I tend not to pay too much attention to clothes stalls, as they won't fit (too long in the body) and I prefer making my own. There were a number of stalls selling paper patterns (they weren't always prominently displayed, so I had to keep my eyes peeled), and I came home with quite a selection.

Paris Originals from 1964 and 1976

I really like Vogue patterns from the era where the word 'Vogue' was printed in blue. The blouse in the centre is a particular favourite.I'm sure the hat will look ridiculous on me, but it has to be tried.

1965, 1967 and 1961

I've also got a soft spot for Style patterns from the 1970s and 1980s, because Style was the brand I tended to use then. I'm intrigued by the idea of 'half' sizes on the patterns on the left and right; given the bust measurement, surely it would have been easier to label them sizes 17 and 15 rather than 16½ and 14½?

1974, 1975 and 1979

Finally I can't imagine ever making up these patterns because a) I just Don't Do Frills and b) it's a jumpsuit, but I liked them anyway.

1962 and 1976

Over lunch I met three lovely ladies called Joy, Jen and Emma, who were beautifully dressed in 1940s, 1960s and 1930s outfits respectively. They had been to the Festival of Vintage before, and strongly recommended going to the fashion show. This was organised by Clare from The House of Foxy, and included both vintage and reproduction clothes. The House of Foxy website shows the reproduction clothing far better than my photographs could, but these are some of the vintage pieces.

Vintage clothes in the fashion parade, starting from the 1930s . . .

. . . and going up to the 1960s

This dress drew gasps all round when it appeared, as the three-coloured chiffon back drape floated so elegantly.

The chiffon seams were beautifully done

As well as the patterns and hat, I also bought a handbag. I’ve wanted a 1950s summer bag for a while, and this one fitted the bill perfectly. The multi-coloured decoration on the front means that it will go with pretty much everything.

With 6" ruler, for scale

It’s exactly the sort of shape I was after.

The back is all woven

Showing the clasp fasten and handles

Inside it has a zipped section on one side and a pocket on the other.

Zip pocket at back . . .

. . . and plain pocket at front

The original label was literally hanging by a thread when I bought it, and has now come away altogether, but I'll re-attach it.

Made in Miami

On the day before I had bought three old pattern catalogues for research purposes (don't ask), so I had a lot of luggage to stagger home with, but it was a great trip.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Barley Hall and Wolf Hall

While I was strolling round York last week, I came across an amazing attraction (it's not really a museum) which I didn't even know existed. Until about 30 years ago, no-one else knew it existed, either. Barley Hall was tucked away behind a derelict office block, and was only discovered when the modern building was about to be demolished.

Barley Hall, the entrance

The oldest parts of the building date from about 1360, and the rest from around 1430. Now fully restored, it has been decorated to replicate how it would have looked in around 1483.There are no barriers or glass screens in place, and you are encouraged to pick things up.

The Great Hall (on the right) from outside . . .

. . . and inside, showing the open hearth

As well as looking round the hall itself there was something more to pique my interest; some of the costumes from Wolf Hall were on display.

There are also some costumes from other television series about Henry VIII and his wives, but I've limited the post to the Wolf Hall costumes. First up was this costume worn by Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford (Anne's sister-in-law).

Jane Boleyn

Because the costume is all black, it's hard to see the details. However on this side view it's just possible to see the side opening of the bodice (click on the image to enlarge it).

Bodice detail and Henry VIII photobomb

(In the background is one of the costumes from the 1970 BBC series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Click here for a great article from the always wonderful Frock Flicks about these costumes.)

The thing which I really noticed about this costume was the beautiful chemise underneath.

Chemise love

When I was looking for online images of the costumes (of which more later) I noticed that the chemise was very similar to this one worn by Liz Cromwell - which made me wonder if several were made, or if the same one was used for multiple characters.

Liz Cromwell. Image © BBC

Next was a costume worn by the Duke of Norfolk.

Suitably ornate costume for a duke

Close-up you could see all the different fabrics which has been used.

Even the gloves are decorated

Sleeve detail

In the next room were more costumes.

(L to R) Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon and Stephen Gardiner

Gardiner's costume was quite plain, befitting a man of the church, albeit with fur trim. Katherine's costume was also dark, but made from a greater variety of fabrics than Jane Boleyn's and again trimmed with fur.

Katherine of Aragon and Stephen Gardiner

Gable hood

Showing the contrasting sleeve fabric

I was intrigued by Anne's shoes. Who knew that wedge heels were popular in the Tudor period? I assume that this was just to give the actress height.

Thomas Cromwell, Anne Boleyn, and curious shoes

Thomas Cromwell's costume was described as coming from quite early on in the series, when he was wealthy enough to afford fur, but still wearing wool rather than costlier fabrics.

If I'd been bemused by the shoes, it was nothing compared to the shock of finding metal grommets on this costume! Given how much the BBC stressed the accuracy of the costumes when the series aired, I can only assume that like Anne's wedges, this was something which was not meant to show when the costume was being worn.

The horror!

There were still a lot of details to like though, like this cuff.

Beautiful gathering and hand stitching

Anne's costume, like several of the others, used lots of different trims and fabrics together to create the overall effect.

Lace fastening just visible on the long sleeve

Lots of different trims on the French hood

I don't remember this dress from the series at all, in fact none of the costumes appear in any of the images I've found online. I shall have to find a pile of hand-sewing to do, and sit down and watch it again.

The Wolf Hall costumes are on display at Barley Hall until the end of May.