As I mentioned yesterday Norwich is somewhat of a mecca for finding vintage haberdasheries and one of my favourite streets to such is Magdalen Street..(it’s also home to the wonderful Baghdad Grocery store which sells huge half kilo tubs of the most delicious pistacio studded honey halva which I can happily consume in a weekend much to the horror of my dentist*, heavenly tasting rosewater flavoured nougat balls and the lightest puffs of sesame seed snaps….they sell lots of other nice food things too but though I’ve somewhat gone off chocolate I still have a sweet tooth and a large paper bag stuffed full of delights straight from the Arabian Nights tends to accompany me home when I’ve been down that end of town)….one shop I can happily rummage around for a couple of hours is Aladdin’s Cave which is a veritable treasure trove…most stalls get a look round but there is one downstairs that always gets special attention.
Last year I saw this interesting little red box tucked under some old hankies in a Victorian chamber-pot (which I rather liked and thought would make a nice plant pot but knew the beloved would have had a fit if I had bought it home) and as I’m rather nosy, the lid came off …..
Inside was this beautiful set of dressmaking tools, complete with cherry red wooden handles. They were made by Clover which is a brand that’s still going strong (I love their sewing needles and soft grip crochet hooks). I didn’t have enough money to buy them but when I told my boyfriend about them he said to go back and get them and then they’d get put away for Christmas and that would be a gift ticked off. (He’s lovely because he knows I like sewing things, many of the most precious haberdasheries in my sewing box were presents from him that get used almost everyday).
They’re pretty old, I’m guessing sixties, and there was a little rust but a gentle wipe over with some oil and very fine wire wool removed most of that.
The set includes a wheel for tracing pattern markings, which are used with dress makers carbon paper, 2 different sized chisels used to cut fabric for button holes, a punch to make holes (in leather or in pattern such as marking where the point of a dart will fall) and an awl (using for enlarging buttonholes and in embroidery).
The tool set had been sitting in my work room not unloved but not getting a lot of use, however this past week or so it’s being used pretty much non stop while I’ve been making dottie angel frocks…..
As I mentioned the other day I hate my photo being taken and I’m hoping to persuade a friend to let me take pictures of her in them (we’re pretty similar shapes…hmmm okay I’m somewhat podgier as she’s very fit and runs and cycles and does all sorts but these dresses will cover up all her hard work) so you will eventually get to see what they look like properly. But failing that I’ll get my boyfriend to take them, I’ll just climb up on to a stool and get him to lop my head off like Tif used to do in some of her early modelling pictures.
Anyway, this is one of my favourites, the fabric is by Rowan and I bought it at the start of the year when it was in a sale, I’d intended to use it for the back of a quilt but the fabric is such nice quality that I think I’ll find it hard to quilt (it’s pretty thick) so thought instead to use it for a dottie angel dress. All the trimmings are vintage and even though they are 3 different shades of blue, I don’t mind. I think my sewing is looking rather neater in these pictures…I just can’t help it, on an electric machine my foot just goes down and it’s woosh and the speed limits all get broken and I end up in the ditch.
This orange fabric was from John Lewis. I love orange and blue together and so when I saw this fabric I was rather tempted, and then when I saw it was half price I couldn’t resist. (it’s not so bright in real life)
Like all the other dresses I’ve made I’ve excluded the pockets and front tucks preferring instead to sew the ties to the front and then cover them with a bar that covers them. I find this seems to suit my shape a bit better. I was a bit apprehensive about what my boyfriend would think about this fabric but surprisingly he said he liked it. It looks fantastic with either an orange cardigan or a pale blue one. Can’t wait to try it with pink.
I’ve also made the dresses in just one pattern or print, I tend to like bright leggings and tights and colourful cardigans and scarves and I just thought there was probably enough going on alreay without combining too many prints (though I’ve just been looking at a book of Christian Dior dresses and I’m thinking I know nothing.)
Last up is this blue floral one which was the first one I made and so is a bit roomier than the others. The fabric was from a charity shop and I’ve had it age (really, I’ve had it for years) …I think it cost me about a pound and there was quite a lot of it. Initially I sewed the tucks in but after wearing it a while it wasn’t feeling right and so I whipped it off and got out the un-picker and made a few adjustments.
I can’t stress enough just how comfy these dresses are to wear. I popped into my local John Lewis yesterday to give the lady a swirl of the top one (she’s already seen the grey one) and she laughed when I told her how many I’d made so far.
What I will say is that I really benefited by making a calico toille. The alterations I went on to make to the pattern helped it fit me so much better (as I said before I think I’m rather odd shaped as I’m quite wide across above my boobs and back but don’t have much waist but then I make up for it with hips and bottom.) I will post photos of the toilles I made (they’re fun to see as they’re covered in scribbles) but the first lot of pictures I took look terrible.
*however in my book halva is counted as a health food as it’s full of sesame seeds and they’re very good for you, full of calcium (said with a very straight and only slightly guilty looking face)