A very special commission...

You may remember that earlier this year I was asked to make a very special dress from the escape and evade maps.  I am delighted to now be able to share the full story with you and show you the pictures.

It all started at the Crafted by Hand Fair in July 2015.  I was approached by fellow exhibitor, Hester Cox (who, by the way, does the most amazing collagraphs and prints, see www.hestercox.com for details of her work) who came over to chat and was asking about map dresses... she asked if it was possible to have a bespoke dress made to order.  "Of course" I said, "that would be no problem".  Hester mentioned something abut it being for a special occasion and I vaguely heard her say something about a wedding.  "How lovely" I thought, "wearing a map dress for someone's summer wedding - let's hope she doesn't outshine the bride!".

Hmmm.  It was a little later that I realised that Hester didn't want an escape and evade map dress to wear to A wedding. She wanted an escape and evade map dress to wear to HER wedding.

At which point I needed a little lie down in a dark room.  And a gin.

Luckily, not only is Hester the nicest and most chilled out person to work with, she is also absolutely gorgeous and quite fankly would have looked great wearing a bin bag.

Escape and Evade map wedding dress by Home Front Vintage prep 1

The brief was for a simple summer dress made from maps of Scandinavia (where Hester spends time each year getting inspiration for her work from the landscapes and forests of Sweden).  And it had to be a dress that she could dance the night away in!

Getting ready for the first fitting - a toile is made form lining material to check the design before making the dress in the silk maps.

Getting ready for the first fitting - a toile is made form lining material to check the design before making the dress in the silk maps.

We based the design on a summer dress that Hester owned and loved, but we made the skirt a little fuller for extra 'swish' when she danced - and Hester chose a gorgeous contrasting colour silk to line the dress which gave a fabulous pop of colour.

Hester got married to Brian on the 2nd July this year and has very kindly allowed me to share photos of the wedding with you, taken by photographer Jo Denison

Love that pop of turquoise blue silk lining!

Love that pop of turquoise blue silk lining!

With flowers in her hair... and a little clip made from the maps.

With flowers in her hair... and a little clip made from the maps.

Hester with her mum just before the wedding.

Hester with her mum just before the wedding.

As well as Hester's dress we also made a sash and map corsage for her bridesmaid.

As well as Hester's dress we also made a sash and map corsage for her bridesmaid.

Hester and Brian - the happy couple

Hester and Brian - the happy couple

Dancing the night away...

Dancing the night away...

I won't pretend that making something this special wasn't a tiny bit stressful because I wanted it to be perfect for Hester - but she was so lovely to work with and one of the best things for me is that we got to know each other and I hope will continue to be friends for a very long time.

Here's to wishing Hester and Brian and very happy future together and thank you for allowing me to play a small part in your big day. x

 

Posted on August 10, 2016 .

New silk map dress - or have we seen it before?

Another gorgeous find to add to my escape map dress collection.  This beautiful item was for sale in the gorgeous Catherine Smith Vintage shop in Harrogate and I was lucky enough to be able to buy it.

1944 map dress/housecoat

1944 map dress/housecoat

I hadn't seen it in person, but Cathy had sent me lots of photos, and today I went to see it in the shop.  It is as beautifully made as the photographs suggest - the attention to detail is incredible but there were a couple of things that puzzled me...

Close up of dress/housecoat

Close up of dress/housecoat

The 'dress' only has buttons 3/4 of the way down, so it would have been a little risque in the 1940s - and even today would show rather a lot of leg.  Also, it is lined in flannelette- a thick, almost fleece like fabric.  Hmm, this didn't seem to fit quite right with a day dress - much too warm but with short sleeves...

It wasn't until I got home that I started to realise that I might have seen the dress before.  I think it may be a housecoat made with this pattern advertised in a 1940s magazine...

Advert for housecoat made from silk escape maps.

Advert for housecoat made from silk escape maps.

What do you think?  I'm going to do more research and I'll post more details and photos soon.  The dress/housecoat is still on display at Catherine Smith Vintage in Harrogate for the next 2 weeks if you would like to see it.

It has also been filmed for 'Look North' our regional BBC news programme - more details of that soon!

A new day, a new dress...

What a great week this is turning out to be... first I found out the 'Fashion on the Ration' the fabulous Imperial War Museum exhibition of 1940s fashion is coming up to IWM North in Manchester (complete with the map underwear made for Countess Mountbatten!) and then I was offered this amazing silk mpa dress made from maps of Europe dated 1943.

1940s silk map dress

1940s silk map dress

It is a simple wrap over style, unlined and in the most amazing condition.  The best part is the note that came with it that reads:

This dress was made by Betty Reeves just after the second world war when clothes and materials were still rationed. She used silk maps made by the RAF to use when flying over Europe. Surplus maps were sold in the local Bath Army surplus shop (near the Forum and the River in Bath). She also bought surplus parachute silk and made a beautiful nightdress. sadly the conventional sewing machine stitch proved too big and the seams frayed rapidly and it was never worn.
Silk map wrap dress being worn in a photo shoot

Silk map wrap dress being worn in a photo shoot

Posted on June 13, 2016 .

What a find!

Having posted about the gorgeous map dresses and other clothing made in the 1940s and 1950s using escape maps, I couldn't believe it when I was offered a jacket and blouse map from the maps.

Both pieces are made with maps of French Indo China printed in 1944.  The first is a really interesting jacket which looks like it could have been made in the 1950s rather than 1940s.

Jacket made from 1944 maps of French Indo China

Jacket made from 1944 maps of French Indo China

The back of the jacket - it has a lovely swing to it

The back of the jacket - it has a lovely swing to it

The second item is a blouse, again made form maps dated 1944.  Sadly this one is badly damaged, but no less beautiful.

Blouse made from maps dated 1944.

Blouse made from maps dated 1944.

These two pieces are the start of what I hope to be a small collection of silk map dresses and other clothing to go alongside the pieces I make myself from the original maps.

Posted on May 1, 2016 .

Make Do and Mend

One of the things I love about Home Front Vintage is researching the history and provenance of the vintage escape and evasion maps that I use.  When I first found the maps I did have a dilemma about reusing them and making them into something new.  People do sometimes question whether I should be using these artefacts from the past and I have been told that they should be preserved as they are and not reused. My ethos has always been  to make the maps into something that people will love to own and want in their lives.  In this way the history of the maps is retold and  the story survives.  I love wearing one of our brooches or pendants and when someone comments on it being able to say 'Thanks - there's a really great story behind it...'

There is a real history of the maps being 're-purposed' as well.  After WW2, in Britain clothes were still rationed until 15th March 2949 and the 'make do and mend' ethos continued well into the 1950s. Many soldiers and airmen returning home after the war  still had the escape and evade maps that had been issued to them; and these were soon reused to make a variety of clothing.

Advert in a 1940s magazine with a patten for a housecoat made from escape and evade maps. Photo courtesy of Vic Garland.

Advert in a 1940s magazine with a patten for a housecoat made from escape and evade maps. Photo courtesy of Vic Garland.

I love attending events and fairs throughout the year as I get to meet people who have their own stories of the maps.  One customer sent me this photo of a sun suit made from the maps that her grandmother wore.  It must have made quite an impression on Clacton on Sea in 1949. Look at that fabulous bow on the front!

Sun Suit made from escape and evade maps.jpg

I absolutely adore this child's sun-dress made from the maps.  It is owned by the Imperial War Museum and has been on display at their London site although I have never seen it in person.

Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum www.iwm.org.uk

Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum www.iwm.org.uk

This dress in on show at the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum near Chichester.  It even has a matching parasol!  I am not sure how many maps were used to make it, but there must be a few to get all that fullness in the skirt...

Photo courtesy of paisleypedlar.wordpress.com

Photo courtesy of paisleypedlar.wordpress.com

But I think this has to be my favourite of all the items I have found.  This 1940s blouse epitomises the austerity of the period with its simple design and lack of embellishment.

Photo courtesy of The Fashion Museum

Photo courtesy of The Fashion Museum

As well as the items for sale on our website, we also provide a bespoke service and can make simple blouses, skirts and dresses from the maps to order.  Any of you who have met me at one of the fairs or events over the last couple of years may well have seen my beautiful dress made from maps of Scandinavia.  It is by far my favourite piece of clothing and I feel like a child with a new party dress every time I wear it.  I did suggest to my husband that we should get married again so that I could make wedding dress from the maps...  I won't print his response here...

Dress made from escape and evasion maps by Home Front Vintage.jpg

I'd love to see any more images of clothing made from the maps, please do share any that you have.

Posted on April 3, 2016 and filed under make do and mend.