January 9, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:01 am by historywardrobe

A beautiful review of The Red Ribbon with particular appreciation for dressmaking

Lizzie Thimble

Hello!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

This blog post is a little bit different to previous posts but I     hope fellow sewists will appreciate it. A few months ago I attended the launch of Lucy Adlington’s latest book, The Red Ribbon. If you haven’t heard of Lucy, I suggest you look her up straight away. Lucy is a fashion historian, writer, actress and vintage clothing collector who runs her own business, History Wardrobe. She and her colleagues tour the country staging fashion history presentations, which are so fascinating and entertaining. To be honest, I think I want to be her!

When I heard Lucy had written a novel based on an actual sewing workshop set up in Auschwitz during the Second World War, I knew it would be a gripping read.

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The workshop was established by Hedwig Hoss, the Auschwitz Commandant’s wife, who loved…

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October 5, 2017

The Red Ribbon [review]

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:21 am by historywardrobe

I’m so pleased this story of 1940s dressmakers is having such a powerful and positive response

Snazzy Books

The Red Ribbon - Lucy Adlington

Title: The Red Ribbon
Author: Lucy Adlington
Publisher: Hot Key Books

[Synopsis]

Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive.

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration wth her captors, or is it a means…

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The Red Ribbon [review]

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 am by historywardrobe

Source: The Red Ribbon [review]

September 26, 2017

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington |REVIEW

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:57 pm by historywardrobe

Great review thank you. The true story of the dressmakers of Auschwitz is absolutely startling. I couldn’t resist writing about it. It’s a lovely lovely hardback edition too.

The Blurb:

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day working at Birchwood, she steps into a world of silks and seams, buttons, lace and ribbons.

Ella is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Every dress she makes could mean the difference between life and death.

This room, this place, this world, is all about survival.


Title: The Red Ribbon

Author: Lucy Adlington

Publisher: Hot Key Books 

First Published: 21/09/2017     This Edition: 21/09/2017     Pages: 287

Date Started: 21/09/2017   Date Finished: 26/09/2017

My Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ✨ 

Four of us: Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might all have been friends. But this was Birchwood.

This book guys.. 😭

I won a copy of this book via Readers First and I wish I got around to this sooner!

It’s a YA, Historical Fiction…

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July 31, 2017

Laura Ashley Sample Book of Secrets

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:10 pm by historywardrobe

A charming mini masterpiece for fans of Laura Ashley fabric

Annjrippin's Blog

After much deliberation I finally decided how to present the Laura Ashley sample quilts that I wrote about on the blog towards the end of last year.  These are tiny little pieces using up the very smallest scraps of the Laura Ashley fabric I have been given and adding elements to them to suggest a narrative which we can’t unlock but can’t resist putting together.  For example:

I am very committed to the idea that we are all born storytellers and that this is how we make sense of the world, so when we see something like the little red quilt above, we start to make up our own story to explain why there is a spoon with the Mayflower on it: a present from an American relative?  A souvenir of a special trip?  A birthday present from a friend who knew about the spoon collection?  A Daughter of the…

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June 15, 2017

The Victorian Seamstress

Posted in Uncategorized, Victorian at 2:40 pm by historywardrobe

How easy it is to take our clothes for granted… and to forget those who labour making them. I’m always eager to hear tales of the dressmakers, tailoresses and seamstresses from the past, so often lost to history, or surviving only in the vintage garments that remain.

“…a very elegant, kind, loving woman”

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Eleanor c. 1895

A History Wardrobe fan recently shared images of her grandmother Eleanor, born in 1867, and married, aged 30, to a Younger Man (only 23 – heavens!). Before her marriage Eleanor worked at Pennington’s Department Store in Spalding, Lincolnshire.  The original shop opened in 1850, and only closed when it was hit by a bomb in 1941.  I came across a lovely memoir about a dressmaker’s apprentice at Pennington’s in the 1930s.

Back in Eleanor’s day, customers usually bought their fabric first – a dress length or a costume length – then it was made up by the seamstress.  Designs could be chosen from a shop display, or from commercial fashion illustrations and patterns.

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Afternoon outfits from the Girls’ Own Annual 1889

 

Conditions in Victorian workrooms varied from friendly and tolerable to Spartan and unpleasant. It seems that Eleanor enjoyed camaraderie with fellow workers at Pennington’s. She is picture here with other workroom girls, sporting the fabulous puffed sleeves of the mid 1890s.

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Pennington workroom girls c. 1895

 

Professional dressmakers were distinguished from the truly impoverished sweated labourers by their higher wages and smarter outfits.  They could almost be walking adverts for their employers, as seen in this final portrait of Eleanor (standing, left). Aren’t these winter ensembles magnificent? I love the frogging, the gloves and the muffs.

Penningtons girls

Eleanor with friends

 

If you’d like to know more about the life of working women in Victorian times, why not join us for a History Wardrobe presentation – A Very Victorian Lady? We feature all-original 19th century garments, and explore the lives of milliners, mill workers, mothers and even emigrants. You can find all event details on our website diary:

http://www.historywardrobe.com/eventsdiary.html

April 27, 2017

A Fabulous Fifties Afternoon Tea

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:37 am by historywardrobe

Happy memories of a lovely vintage afternoon

Lizzie Thimble

On Sunday, my friend and colleague Katie and I treated our mums to afternoon tea with a vintage twist. Organised by the Friends of the Richardson Hospital in Barnard Castle, the Fabulous Fifties Afternoon Tea combined three of my favourite things – 1950s fashion, history and lots and lots of cake.

Such a lovely event required an extra special outfit and I decided only a circle skirt would do. I love the Eliza M Vintage Circle Skirt pattern as it is so easy to make and very flattering. I created the skirt below from some curtain fabric and, for such a bold print, it is surprising how many of my tops it goes with. On this occasion I wore it with a  fuschia knitted top with a kind of wrap effect. It was also a fantastic opportunity to wear my new yellow fakelite beads and bangle from Splendette.

My…

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January 30, 2017

Style Tribes – review

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 5:26 pm by historywardrobe

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Style Tribes: The Fashion of Subcultures

Style Tribes: The Fashion of Subcultures – Caroline Young (Frances Lincoln, 2016)

When you first discovered fashion, did you want to fit in or stand out? It seems that no matter how much we might want to assert our individuality, we can’t help making connections with others who like the same togs. And, while we think of clothes as being civilising, author Caroline Young is pretty certain that clothes are actually tribal.  Frankly, the first human adornments are believed to have been declaration of status and availability.  Has much changed?

In this attractive, picture-rich book, Young explores the links between youth, music culture and fashion.  Couture barely gets (or deserves) a look-in.  If you remember your own teenage years, much of the themes she covers will resonate.  Mine was the era of the New Romantics… on a very strict budget. My clothes were indeed influenced by music subcultures, and the cover art of those lovely LPs we flipped through at Woolworths and the local record shop. Alas, my solitary Duran Duran t-shirt soon became naff.  Since it was black, I next wore it back-to-front under a dubious fringed jacket during a moodier Goth phase.

Young’s descriptions of the sheer inventiveness of subculture fashion certainly rings true to me.  As teens (and beyond) we created our own looks from what we could afford, and what we could customise. To my chagrin, I remember attending one teen party with loops of coloured paperclips over my turquoise bat-wing top.  My best friend (always fabulously dressed & accessorised) complimented me on looking “so different.” Frankly I’d rather have been kitted out in shop-bought branded goods.  Now, of course, the high street can provide any look, often at minimal cost.  Funky, maybe, but punk it ain’t.

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Style Tribes – punk

 

Reading Style Tribes is like wearing a pair of well-loved classic jeans – you know what you’re getting and you like it.  The chronology takes us through a cavalcade of cutting-edge fashion, all of it ultra-modern in its day.  Though mainly Western, the cultural span is broader than most fashion books, encompassing white surfer dudes and Black zoot suits; Asian harajuku and goa trance.

20170130_165101.jpgLooking back we can raise an eyebrow at outlandish extremes, or smile in admiration at the glorious rebelliousness of it all.  Beatnik, disco, riot grrls and steampunk, all are now immortalised in history.  What next?  Young says look to organically growing moods and moments in society:

“There are always new tribes… We just don’t know about them yet”

 

Style Tribes is smart, insightful and occasionally edgy. It celebrates all those outfits that made conservative parents shudder and say, “You can get back up those stairs – you’re not going out looking like that!”  Forget catwalks, think catcalls.  This fashion is high street & back alleys. It is attitude, not platitude. Tribalism at its most colourful and courageous.

September 4, 2016

Mewing like cats

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:55 pm by historywardrobe

A fascinating insight into early 19thc life. A big help as I research clothes & crime in the Georgian era

Conviction

The Infirmary, Great Yarmouth Gaol

May 1837

The Gaoler catches the two young women leaning out of the infirmary window, flirting with the men in the airing yard below. They jump down hastily when he shouts their names.[1]

It’s three weeks since Elizabeth Humphrey complained of being sick and was dispatched to the infirmary room, with Sarah Rands to keep her company. They are enjoying their ruse, with the luxury of sugar to sweeten their tea and oatmeal, and a rush candle to light at night when they sing and tell each other stories in its warm glow. They have been palls since Sarah arrived in January, joining Elizabeth, nearly six months into her sentence.[2]

2 women EH and SC Detail from Mrs Fry Reading to the Prisoners at Newgate, 1816 Jerry Barrett (1863), Courtesy British Museum

Now Elizabeth Humphrey, aged nineteen, says she is in the family way. The matron, wife…

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July 22, 2016

Remember the old school days?

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:17 am by historywardrobe

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