Monday, 27 June 2016

Interview with Jessica from Chronically Vintage

Just a quick post today to share my news. I am this month's interviewee in the ongoing series on Jessica's fabulous Chronically Vintage blog. It has been very exciting to take part, Jessica asked me a great set of questions and you can read my answers and find out more about this photo here.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Knitted trunks are best - 1940's & 1950's knitted swimwear

I did a tour of my 1930's swimwear patterns in my last post and I'm finishing up my pattern tour today by travelling through the 1940's and 1950's.

July 1945. 'Bathing trunks and top'. A two colour halter neck top and bathing trunks with a solid colour trim. The top cleverly buttons onto the trunks.

July 1946.  'There's still time'. An all in one swimsuit with a contrast trim around the legs and neck. This is a super stylish yet plain option.

July 1946. A two colour swimsuit and bolero for an 8 year old. These were often referred to as sun suits and seemed to be very popular as I have quite a few patterns for them. They always consist of a swimsuit or trunks with a cardigan or bolero to match.

May/June 1947.

'Sunbathe or swim'. A brassiere top and briefs with contrast colour rope details and straps. Very nautical!

'Swimsuit with a tailored look'. A colour work swimsuit with a fitted mid panel and contrast trim. I wish the picture was in colour.

April 1948. 'Knit for your holidays'. Trunks and a bra top with a zig zag centre panel and twisted rope details and straps. Love that contrast panel.

April 1948. A child's colour work sun suit with a swimsuit and cardigan.

May/June 1948. 'Going to the sea'. A firm halter neck swimsuit in a three colour stitch. I think this one is lovely though I'm not convinced that those straps are up to much.

May/June 1948. Striped trunks with a contrast waist and leg trim.

June 1949. 'Going swimming'. A halter neck, blue and white diagonal stripe swimsuit. This one is very glamorous.

May 1950. 'Beachwear for the family'. Women's trunks and halter neck top. I think this is lovely, again, simple and stylish.

Men's trunks with a contrast trim.

Child's sun suits. Gorgeous picture knits featuring anchors, boats, ducks and fish set within a wave pattern.

June 1950. 'Your swim set'. A top and trunks in a lovely blue and white diamond pattern. This is just fabulous!

June 1951. 'Knitted trunks are best'. Men's trunks, plain colour with a contrast belt.

I couldn't find any more knitted swimsuits for adults past this date in my pattern collection. I am assuming that this coincides with the development and wider availability of manmade fabrics and their use in swimwear. I think these lovely woolly numbers have a distinct style and glamour!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

For basking on the beach - 1930's beachwear

Lately, in my spare time, I've been having a very happy sort through my vintage knitting magazines on the hunt for knitted swimwear. After looking at the Patons and Baldwin 1930's swimwear patterns I wanted to find out what I had in my own collection. I also wanted to look at them to decide which I will knit to take part in the Pretty Old Patterns swimsuit knit along. I found so many that were interesting, and worth sharing, that I thought I would take you on a tour of my swimsuit patterns, starting in the 1930's.

Most of these are from Stitchcraft, the rest are from Needlewoman.

This 'peach of a swim suit' pattern could be obtained by sending the top of a Lux packet and a stamp off to Port Sunlight. It is quite common to find these Lux adverts with free patterns in vintage knitting magazines. Stripes were 'tops' for beachwear in the summer of 1936 apparently.

Also in June 1936 is this advert for P&B knitting wools featuring a rather fetching green and white diagonal striped bathing suit.

From June 1937 we have this halter neck swimsuit 'sea bathe'.

We can see more detail here, including the fine rib around the waist for shape and stability. The child is wearing a sunsuit with a sailing boat trim.

Here it is in close up, I think it looks smart on the two tone stripe background.

The same pattern spread also included these men's trunks, in four sizes.



No words!

This is one of the most elegant, glamorous and covetable pieces of vintage beachwear that I have ever seen so I had to include it. From May 1939, it is a linen tweed beach coat, lined in green terry towelling, made from a Vogue pattern. I would love to wear this whilst paddling this summer!

Here is another Lux advert from June 1939 featuring a 'smart knitted play suit'. The 'snappy little shorts are very practical because you can wear them with a pullover or shirt whilst playing games'. Styling tips too!

'For basking on the beach'. August 1937.

'Checks are good for beach wear' This is a 'novel' tunic frock in crochet. I haven't come across a pattern like this before. I think it is rather fabulous.

This bathing suit has a trunk style bottom and then a button through detachable skirt to go over the top. It is from July 1938 and I really like it, so very versatile!

Although this is a sun top rather than a swimsuit I wanted to include it as it is such a jolly ensemble and you can make 3 of the pieces of this outfit. 

The sun top is backless and made of crochet fabric. A wide band goes around the chest and a narrower band forms a belt that buckles at the side.

It is also possible to make the beach bag and the sandals. Apparently these are the 'most comfortable beach shoes imaginable'! The crochet tops would be attached to either rubber or rope soles, with or without heels.

Another Lux advert, this is a hooded, wide sleeved wrap inspired by an Arabian garment. It is designed to stop the wearer from getting sunburn and to keep them warm when the wind blows. Lux also suggest that it may be worn as a dressing gown once the summer is over!

Lastly, from July 1931, we have a truly incredible beach outfit.

Oh yes! This bathing wrap was made from a Vogue pattern in raspberry colour towelling. The pattern also includes a swimsuit, in fine navy blue jersey, and a divided skirt. The wrap could also be used as a skirt. The embroidery is worked in pink. The fish are cut out of bright green gingham and then appliqu├ęd to the wrap. I so wish there were colour pictures.

That year 'large aquatic motifs are favoured for beach attire, such as fish, seaweed, boat scenes and golden landscapes. What a glorious opportunity for riotous embroideries'.

Here is the fabulous fish.

The ensemble is finished with straw picture hats which have been embroidered with zigzags, the fish and thistles. Fish for beachwear I understand, thistles not so much. However, the whole outfit is just marvellous.

So, that was a quick trip through 1930's beachwear. The 1940's and 1950's are coming up next.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A visit to the Marks and Spencer archive

1930's lingerie advert. I would take them all!
I had a fabulous day out on Friday with my lovely friend. We met in Leeds and went to visit the Marks and Spencer archive which is located in the Michael Marks building at the University of Leeds. It is an interesting walk from the centre of Leeds through the university campus and it takes about 25 minutes. I found out about the archive a while ago but it has taken me this long to get organised for a visit. It was well worth the wait!

Marks and Spencer is one of the most recognised shops on the UK high street and even if the fashion doesn't always float your boat I bet you still go in for basics, underwear or food. My M&S staples are cardigans, tights, pyjamas and coronation chicken sandwiches!

1970's lingerie advert. I like the florals in the middle.
The archive exists both as the archive part with a reading room that you can book into to look at M&S documents and items and as an exhibition area looking at the progression of the company through the ages.

Most of the garments and items are behind glass so please excuse the strange lights and reflections in some of the photos. I think they still give a good idea of the fashions which is what I was after.

I bet most people in the UK have at least one pair of M&S knickers!
The first part of the exhibition goes through the history of the company - the detail of which can be found in this timeline. In brief, (underwear joke ha ha ha!), in 1884 an immigrant peddler Michael Marks opened his penny bazaar in Leeds market. He stopped selling more expensive items, concentrating on things like haberdashery and everything did indeed cost a penny. Tom Spencer became a partner in 1894 bringing admin skills and financial backing. By 1900 Marks and Spencer had 36 penny bazaars and 12 high street stores.

The penny pricing had to cease at the outbreak of the first world war as goods became harder to obtain and more expensive. The company survived the Depression by changing it's pricing and offering a smaller number of goods, concentrating on clothes and food. In the 1940's M&S helped the government with developing quality clothes with fewer details at lower prices, which helped to result in utility clothing.

An early M&S shop assistant's uniform and one on the right from the 1940's.
More staff uniforms, I remember the one on the right.
Logo details on the dress in the middle above.
1960's uniform, as seen on the left above.

In the 1950's and 1960's M&S concentrated on developing it's clothing, both in terms of fashions and materials. From the 1960's there was greater use of man made fabrics. The food department also changed, bringing chilled rather than frozen chickens to the housewives of the day. Convenience foods followed by 1973.

Now let's look at some fashion!

1920's vanity box
1920's kimono
These two items are made form beautiful floral fabrics. The next set of pictures are of 1940's fashions.

Look at those marvellous buttons!
I love this circus print! So much detail!

Moving on to the 1950's.

Yes please!!
Great dog scarf!
A television showing period M&S adverts.
Now for the 1960's.

Great print on that dress.
 The 1970's

The exhibition continues to cover the years up to the present day. I stopped taking photos after the 1970's display as by then I had covered all the eras whose fashions I was interested in. The exhibition at the archive isn't massive but it is well displayed and informative and really very interesting. We spent a lovely time there and really enjoyed ourselves. We then wandered back into Leeds for dinner at the M&S cafe as we felt it was only fitting! There were no coronation chicken sandwiches though!

I leave you with this one of me modelling a wartime ARP helmet.

And as it should look!