From being a small girl I always love going into a Fabric shop or department. In Leeds we had my favourite one in Lewis’s, one in Schofields department stores. Then there was Samuel Taylor by the back door of Woolworths and of course Leeds Market.
Lewis’s was best as when the escalator lifted you up it was like landing in a heaven filled with colour and smelling so fresh and clean. I could have easily spent all day in there.
The pattern books were a wonder too. When Mary Quant erupted into the 60’s I used to spend hours deciding which pattern to buy. I would buy the one I could adapt making more than one outfit as the patterns were expensive. I had the Quant one in the next pic and made the dress, adapted it into a tunic blouse (I made it button down the back – very uncomfortable!),without the frills (they were a nightmare to iron) and with pleats from the hips.
I loved to sew, it was my best subject at school. In my GCE Exams I was marked at Grade 1 (over 90%). It was not considered a talent , just something that was handy!
Nowadays I alter things but never make a whole outfit. Alterations I find are often harder and are a skill I wish had had been taught at school.
My cousin Joyce was a tailoress who supervised the “shop” as they called a factory. They made School Wear (real quality stuff not like today) and Ganex coats made famous by Halold Wilson. The factory owner used to bring in his tweed jackets when they were worn and ask her to “turn them”. This involved unpicking the whole jacket and making it up with the unworn side outside. When you imagine unpicking a bound button hole and reversing it ( so the buttons are again on the male side!) – what a nightmare. She would then make a new lining and resew in the Saville Row label.
Now I must go and shorten my new black trousers, I have only been putting it off for a couple of months!