Sunday 30 September 2012

Women in Wartime - War Bride

Hello, I've got another instalment from the Imperial War Museums Collection Archive for you all today, I do hope you are enjoying these as much as I enjoy piecing the stories back together, it's addictive!

So today we have the story of newly engaged couple Marcelle and Harold as they go about their preparations for their upcoming nuptials in March 1943.
A head and shoulders portrait of newly-engaged couple Miss Marcelle L'estrange and Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan on a street in London.
Newly-engaged Marcelle L'estrange and her fiance Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan look in a jeweller's shop window for a suitable engagement and/or wedding ring. 
Because of the scarcity of gold and jewels, jewellers are only allowed to sell a certain quota of jewels each quarter, many selling out at the very beginning of the quarter. Gold had been stopped for wedding ring manufacture, but is now released in small quantities, but gold wedding rings are very hard to find, particularly in the cities.
Marcelle L'estrange and Harold Lackland Bevan examine an engagement ring in a jeweller's shop in London. There is little choice, as restrictions, precious metals such as gold and the lack of skilled staff to re-set rings means that couples like Marcelle and Harold must choose for the remainder of pre-war stock.
Harold Lackland Bevan and Marcelle L'estrange examine some pieces of secondhand china in a shop in London. All china now being produced in Utility and plain white. Coloured china sets have disappeared with the exception of some remaining pre-war stocks of Crown Derby and Coleport. Secondhand dinner services are therefore in huge demand.
Marcelle L'estrange looks at a wedding cake in a shop in London. The assistant explains that the icing effect is made of painted cardboard and rice paper and lifts off to reveal the real cake below. According to the original caption: "The cake underneath the trimmings is less full of currants than a pre-war cake and must not cost more than 35 cents a pound".
Marcelle L'estrange stops to buy some cleaning products from a kiosk on her way home. A blackboard lists various products and their uses, such as 'Texacleen' for 'silks, rayons and woollens', and buckets and the like are stacked in the open air. 
Newly-engaged Marcelle L'estrange buys vegetable seeds from a salesman in London. Civilians are encouraged, through the 'Dig for Victory' campaign, to grow their own vegetables anywhere they can, so even if they do not have a garden, a window box should be used instead.
Marcelle L'estrange looks at her permit for Utility furniture which she has just received from Chelsea Borough Council in March 1943

How amazing is Marcelle's Hair!! the is certainly some authentic Victory rolls going on there, well when you are engaged to a Chap in the RAF it's only fitting!!
Marcelle L'estrange fills in an application form for Utility furniture. Identity card numbers, full names, addresses and occupations of the people applying for this furniture must be given, along with the reasons for purchase and the possible amount required.
Marcelle L'estrange looks through a catalogue of Utility furniture in a shop in London. Although there is not much choice, the furniture is simple and practical and all articles are sold at a controlled rate, free of purchase tax, making it a lot cheaper for young couples setting up home for the first time.
Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan buys some daffodils for his bride-to-be from a flower seller in Sloane Square, Chelsea.
All images and Quoted text are taken from the Imperial War Museum Collection Archive

Sadly we don't get to see Harold and Marcelle's wedding (Boo!) but I am sure it was a wonderful day even with the cardboard icing on the cake!

In November of the same year, shortly after these pictures were taken, Harold was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his work as a bomb aimer and Visual marker flying in Lancaster's, with 165 Squadron. He continued flying many sorties right up to the end of the war. 

After a fair bit of searching, I finally found both of their names (Marcelle was nicknamed Tessa) amongst those of the passengers aboard the Aquila Airways 'City of Sydney' traveling to Palermo on the 15th Nov 1957. This was an ill-fated voyage. Due to problems with one of its propellers, the pilot made the decision to return to Southampton airport, during this attempt it crashed into a chalk pit on the Isle of Wight. Out of the 58 passengers and crew, only 13 survived, Harold and Tessa were not among them.
"With over 50 people on-board the craft appeared to loose power rapidly and crash into the disused chalk pit just above the small villages of Chessell and Shalcombe. Sadly the crash took the lives of 43 of the passengers and crew, valiant efforts were made by locals including that of the Author JB Priestly and a local policeman but before they could assist anymore passengers or crew the aircraft burst into flames and anyone left in the plane sadly perished."           (Quote source)
I can't help feeling a sad irony to their story, to survive all those potentially dangerous missions over Germany and the bombing of London and then to be killed on a holiday flight. They would have been married for about 13/14 years, I do hope they were happy.

If you enjoyed this then you might fancy looking through some my past Picture Posts click the tab at the top!

Wendy x

Friday 28 September 2012

Things To Make & Do - 1940s Turban

Today's post is a quick one, about an even quicker stash-busting sewing project

~1940s Turban ~
(Stash Buster)

Designed by: Mary Jane of Make Your Way Around Britain

The tutorial does not require a pattern, but I find it easier to have a pattern to work from so I can note any adjustments for future makes. So I have created a PDF file which you can download HERE if you so desire!

T-shirt OR *A Light Weight Knitted OR Any Stretch Fabric
Chalk or marking pencil OR a Printout of the PDF
Needle & Thread OR Your Trusty Sewing Machine
* I love the idea of using an old jumper or scarf for this project as it will create the look of a knitted turban without the many hours of knitting, just be sure to overlock/secure the cut edges to prevent it gradually unraveling.

Confession Time!
For the past 5 years of owning my sewing machine, I had no idea that A & B (see left) are stretch stitches for guess what, stitching on stretch fabrics!
What a Numpty! If it hadn't been for me moving some boxes out of the way of my little Pee monster, and finding the manual inside, I would have no doubt remained none the wiser for another 5 years. You probably already knew this, but just in case I'm not alone in my manual reading ineptitude, then is worth looking out for this stitch! It is not essential, but it certainly helps!

This project took no longer than 30 mins from cutting to finishing and it would have been quicker still if I had used a t-shirt with a lower edge seam already included rather than an off cut of stretch velvet which needed hemming.

The stretch stitch is great it takes a bit longer to do, due to the back and forth action of the needle, but it is worth it to have seams that move with the fabric, with no risk of them suddenly popping open under tension! I was so keen to use my new found knowledge that I totally forgot I have a big old head! So my first attempt with the (medium) measurements given was a bit too tight - headache inducing in fact, so I added an inch and a half, to the width and that did the trick.

Pleats at the back!
Since this photo, I've added an extra pleat to remove a bit more of the fullness that was sagging at the back and removed that pesky thread.
It is looser than perhaps it should be (bit more like a beanie) but much more comfortable, and I am only guessing here, but I would think, seeing as there was no lycra back in the 40s then the fabric turbans would have had to have been a slightly looser fit anyway, perhaps with a bit of elastic stitched somewhere to help it stay put!

I love my turban it is stylish enough for wearing out and about (especially in the autumnal weather) and perfect for hiding your hair whilst, cooking, cleaning or just slobbing about on the sofa! It's also a great way to use up old t-shirts, jumpers and scraps of leftover fabric, so I am sure I'll be making many more very soon!

Wendy x

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Le Beau Chat

Meet our new family member Beau.
First time out in the big bad world
We found Beau by chance when searching online for local animal shelters. We spotted a link to the Gumtree with an urgent appeal from his old owners to find their beloved Beau a 3 year old female flat cat a new home. Her old owner Gem was pregnant and she and her partner were being forced to move to a larger property which unfortunately didn't allow pets, she desperately wanted to find a good home for her rather than giving her to a rescue shelter. We ummed and erred, unsure if we would be doing the right thing, but after talking to her lovely owners we agreed we would give Beau a new home.

We picked Beau up nearly a month ago now and I can't say that it has been the easiest of transitions. Firstly we found out that Beau was not a girl cat! Oh no, She is well and truly a He cat. An unuttered, he at that! Embarrassing vet consultation that was I can tell you, I must confess due to his territorial nature, I'd not got close enough to him to see when we told his old owners they were mighty shocked too!

One chilled out Cat!
The effect of the very expensive but worth every penny Feliway room spray
Where before, Beau had been a 3rd floor flat cat (in Chelsea no less) with no access to the outside world and importantly way out of smelling distance of other cats. He suddenly from our ground floor windows, could see a garden patrolled by the areas finest felines and this sent his feisty un-neutered mind and body a little potty, to say the least. 

Beau doesn't mind my clashing crochet on the sofa
 So the last few weeks have been quite stressful, it has been like living with a very bossy, grumpy, hissy teenager who constantly howls, paces around, spraying on everything in sight and then wants to eat, but not the food you've given him, oh no the packets of (the same) cat food which he steals out of the cupboard, are soo much tastier, even if you have to bite through the plastic first

But thankfully since his neutering and then finally being allowed to venture out in the big bad world (for the first time in his life, awah) he has calmed down loads and is getting increasingly friendly! Almost living up to his 'Beautiful' name in nature as well as looks...

...though not quite, as he has yet to shake his moniker of 'ASBO' or 'Beaufighter', for his sudden and without provocation, Teeth'n'claw sinking-eye watering-tear inducing-foot attacks! He hates feet! Ouch!!!

Just in case you thought he was all sleepy fluff and cuddles :)
 So we still have a way to go, especially as he has now waged a war of terror on my sewing machine, (what to do?) But he's now firmly a family member who we love to bits, and wouldn't be without. We both agree he has certainly been worth the effort and the blood loss ;) 

Wendy x

Monday 3 September 2012

...and the winner is...

Comment No.8 which by my calculation is Miss Lorena Bebop from Be-Bop Lashes
Congratulations my Dear! If you send me an email with your details to
I'll get your goodies in to the post as soon as possible!

Wendy x