Friday, November 23, 2018

WWI Centenary: Armistice Blouse

I had every intention this month, of being involved in all the WWI commemoration going on around the 11th. However, packing and preparing to move (and doing so on the 10th) proved to be more distracting than I had anticipated.

Surprisingly, though, and much to my delight, I was able to make a commemorative ‘Armistice Blouse’ in time to wear on the 11th of November itself! I used a simple pattern from Truly Victorian and embroidered the front panel with white poppies, inspired by a circa 1920s apron my sister Morag gave me for my birthday. The blouse is a little loose in the shoulders, and I hope eventually to make a guimpe to wear beneath it, but on the whole I’m very pleased with it. Here are some photos of the blouse!

A close-up of the embroidery. 

Showing off my gorgeous Royal Vintage shoes which I wore with my outfit. 

I made the skirt as well, a few years back, and the belt buckle is Edwardian, with vintage ribbon. 


The vintage hat I bought in Glasgow. 


Monday, November 5, 2018

WWI Centenary: Arthur Lang

This might be a funny thing to admit, but I am really gutted that I haven’t been in the U.K. during any of the Great War Centenary events happening in the last four years. Ever since a dear family friend introduced the war poets to us over fifteen years ago, I have been fascinated by the history (and the fashions!) of the 1910s.

As one hundred years since the Armistice approaches, I want to have my own remembrance observances.

Whilst living in Glasgow, I would haunt the local charity shops, which are treasure troves of clothing, house items and books. In one on Great Western Road, the same road my flat was on, I found a slender volume of poetry published by the University of Glasgow. Of course I bought it.


Arthur Lang was born 16th April 1892. He attended the University of Glasgow from 1909 to 1913, before continuing his studies at Oxford. He joined up in September of 1914, and was killed in action 29th of August, 1916. 

These are the bare bones of this young man’s life. The University of Glasgow has more information on this friendly, talented fellow, which can be read here: Arthur Lang

Arthur Lang as a young man, from the University of Glasgow website (see above link)

Arthur as a soldier, as pictured in my book — ‘For Private circulation’

The tribute of him, given by two friends in the book, depict Arthur as a very talented, as well as a very friendly man. Though not best in large groups or parties, it seems as though his friendship was sought for and greatly cherished. He is not one of the great, remembered war poets of the First World War, but there are many such little known, worthwhile lives that were snuffed out in that conflict. 

A poignant discovery in my book: the card of Robert Lang, Arthur’s father. 

It’s incredible to me that this card, signed by the father and given to a friend, was still in the book when I found it for £1 in a charity shop, nearly one hundred years later. 




Monday, October 15, 2018

Autumn Interlude

Autumn leaves! The look, smell and sound of them make my heart happy. 


I’ve been woefully absent on my blog, and would like to remedy that! Unfortunately I have no new sewing project to show off, as I have not finished any yet. My time as a nanny is winding down, I am working on a masters degree application as well as looking for a new job and a place to live, so hopefully I am justified in being a little distracted.

I have been trying to enjoy the delicious, cool autumn which has finally come to Utah (summer seemed to be unending this year!). I’ve tried to spend time with friends and family and enjoy the beauty of both the earth at this time, and the people in it who bring me joy. Here are some autumn photos to enjoy until such time as I can finish my languishing 1910s blouse and post about that!


My lovely sister Rebecca and her poodle Pippa. 


Playing with Pippa


Fading colours. 

My friends and I made apple dumplings last weekend and it was delightful to work together, and spend time in each other’s company. 

Two of the three friends who made the dumplings. 

With my sister Morag, picking out pumpkins. 


Look at that hair! Lucy loves autumn too. 

Yellow leaves, dark branches, and grey skies. Bliss!



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

1910s Lingerie Dress


I just celebrated my birthday, and had decided, a few months ago, when I discovered a beautiful 1910s dress from my favourite Etsy shop (Marybethhale) that I would treat myself to a birthday gift this year (layaway is a dangerous thing!)

I also decided, once I had the dress, that I must do a photo shoot wearing it. My sister Beccah and my sister-in-law April obliged and took these great photos.






This is what was known as a lingerie dress — all white, with embroidery. I’m pretty certain my dress dates from around 1914.

A photo of the poet Edna St Vincent Millay, in 1914. Her lovely linen dress is very similar in style to my lingerie dress. 





We decided to do the photo shoot in the lovely Memory Grove in Salt Lake City, a Park memorialising soldiers who died in the 1st World War. 



Pretending my Kodak Vest Pocket Camera works!





Saturday, July 21, 2018

New Wearing History Edwardian Blouse

Wearing my completed blouse. 


When I determined, about three years ago, to make a 1910s wardrobe, one of the first patterns I used was the Wearing History Edwardian Blouse and Guimpe pattern. I based it off of some blouses seen in season two of Downton Abbey. It was a great pattern to work with.

The first blouse I made, back in 2015. 


Last summer I bought some lovely sheer textured cotton from Renaissance Fabrics, and cut out a new blouse. I got cold feet for some reason, and didn’t work on it right away. In the spring I slowly started work on it. My sister-in-law, who recently took up sewing, had put me to shame with her skill and patience, and I was much more careful with this piece, and corrected every mistake. It was a good lesson to learn, and I think has payed off.

A blouse from circa 1904, Philadelphia Museum. 

Two blouses from Augusta Auctions, 1905-1915. 


Wearing it with the 1910s skirt I made a few years back, and my American Duchess shoes! 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Howards End: novel and both adaptations

I am the youngest in my family, and from the time I was very young, was raised on a steady diet of British period drama: the 1975 Poldark, and the Jane Eyre featuring Timothy Dalton were among my early fare. Then I, along with my older sisters, was swept away by the Edwardian perfection which enchanted the world with Merchant Ivory’s adaptations of EM Forster’s novels. Our favourite was A Room with a View in 1985 (best filmed kiss in all cinema history!), but when Howards End came out in 1992, I was nine years old, perhaps ten, depending on when it came out, but I was enchanted. The scene of Samuel West wandering through the field of bluebells is forever imprinted in my brain.


I couldn’t find a good photo of the bluebell scene, but here is the well-intentioned Schlegels attempting (unsuccessfully) to put the awkward Leonard Bast at his ease.


It had been years since I’d seen this adaptation when the new BBC miniseries came out. I started watching it with my sister and realised I was watching quite a different story. I ordered a copy of the book and started reading it right away.

Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen in the new production (BBC/ Starz)


I loved the book, and I loved the 2017 adaptation. In fact, when I finished the novel it had a powerful effect on me. The theme of ‘just connect’ is an acutely pertinent one for our world today, for though we are connected via the internet in ways people of even twenty years ago would find impossible, we’re not really actually physical or connecting to people anymore. The power of trying to help people (whether with good or ill effects) and being, at least to a certain degree, responsible for those around us is also something we should keep in mind.

So, I finally re-watched the Merchant Ivory film, as I hadn’t remembered it much. I was so surprised by how different the adaptations are from each other. The new series follows the book almost completely. The 1992 film, on the other hand, plays up and romanticises the relationship between Helen and Mr Bast, and sadly plays down Margaret’s character, thereby stripping her of her power, warmth and importance throughout the story. I was bitterly disappointed in the adaptation, despite its beauty. I loved how the new series was able to follow the wonderful story and all its characters. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

‘A Power o’ Nature’

I have recently been thinking about the dissertation I wrote a little over four years ago. The subject and research was on holy wells in Scotland, particularly those in Argyll, the Isle of Bute and Fife. It’s funny, as I’d been in the thick of university life, and would have thought I was at the top of my game as far as research and writing are concerned.

The Lady Well, Glasgow. It’s wonderful to be able to go over my own stomping-ground in my writing. These photos are from June 2014


Ive been reading up on the subject the past couple of weeks, and I’m already realising I could have done a lot better. Though it’s slow going, I’ve been working on a writing project with the wells, and I love reading and researching and writing again. I hope I’ll be able to go somewhere with this project!

The capped holy well. It’s encouraging to see that it’s still visited.