I went out on a fabric shopping expedition to Columbia Road at the weekend, ready to spend a small fortune on tailor's scissors and yards and yards of yellow polka dot fabric to play around with. Alas, the shops I wanted to go to were closed (still recovering from the New Year, I guess), but while browsing a second hand shop which, at first glance, sold nothing but china tea sets, under a stack of old magazines I found a sewing book from 1946 called 'The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Needlecraft'.
From my meagre sewing knowledge it appears that most of the tools and techniques required haven't changed much over the years (apart from the sewing machines, which are hand operated in the book!), so this should prove a useful instruction manual as well as a curiosity.
The book has a real sense of post-war feeling about it, combining a 'make do and mend' ethos with a palpable hunger for glamour. For example, it includes hints and tips on perking up boring sleeves and fashioning an array of snazzy detachable collars to add to old garments.
While some of the designs are a bit dodgy, others are quite gorgeous. I particularly like the yoke and front pleating on this top and the wrap around skirt. The book makes everything look really simple to make and, while this may not quite turn out to be true, it has inspired a bit more confidence in me than the pre-bought patterns which seem to be written in a language I haven't quite got to grips with yet.
Speaking of naps...