Friday, 14 October 2011


My Grandmother is wonderful. While this is something I've always known, I have come to appreciate it even more recently, when I've been going through the Ton of clothes I grabbed from her house following a big clear out I helped my Mum with.
Handmade skirt
As she's now elderly and immobile, my Nan has surrendered most of her incredible (both in terms of content and size) wardrobe, and much of it has come to live with me.
I've washed a few items and aired the rest and am now the proud owner of;
12 skirts
1 skirt suit
1 jacket
2 dresses
6 slips
1 dressing gown
2 dresses and 1 skirt from which I'll reclaim fabric
1yd of cotton and
1 fur coat

Blue and green plaid skirt
My Mum is amazed that anyone would want to wear her Grandmother's clothes and as they're all 60s and 70s items, I'm surprised too. It turns out, though, that my Nan has always been a style queen.
Not only is her taste impeccable - the fabrics she's picked out are beautiful, she's also always bought very high quality clothes and she's taken really great care of everything. Most of it looks brand new. It's incredible. And, as I'm discovering, most of her clothes were hand made.
My Nan grew up in the 30s and 40s in the East End of London. When the war started, she was 14 and so left school to join the work place. She went to work in a factory sewing parachutes and as far as I know, has been sewing ever since.

Simple black velvet a-line skirt
At the end of the war she married the boy next door (actually he lived opposite, but near enough!) and when my Grandad was offered a chance to move to Hampshire with work, they took it. She kept working in London and would take the bus into Victoria every day, which meant that she needed a wardrobe fit for the London scene whilst saving her pennies (not to say that she didn't like to spend - there's an oft told story about a pair of shoes she spent 2 week's wages on in Bristol during the war, which she had to hide from my Grandad).
Suit made in 'West Germany'
As a result she sewed many of her own clothes then, and continued to make pieces for cruises she went on in her retirement. She has a raft of photos of her creations dining on the QE2!
It was my Nan who first taught me to sew and I can remember many happy school holidays making stuffed toys, dressing up clothes or aprons. When my school ball came around at 16, I helped her make a dress with a boned bodice and massive Tulle skirt from burgundy satin - I still think it's a remarkable feat! I wore that dress proudly and told anyone who'd listen that I'd made it with my Nan.

Handmade dress - crazy!
Some of the skirts need taking in, since as she got older she let out a lot of darts and added an inch here and there to the waist bands so that, weirdly, they're too big for me. I'm sure as the rest of the clothes get modified I'll be posting pictures of me in them, so watch this space!


  1. This is just the best post! Your nan really did have the most amazing taste. I love to here how women have made and treasured their clothing, and efforts that we need remainding of.

  2. How fantastic. And what a great tribute to your grandmother, that her clothes can see new life with you! She sounds like a wonderful woman.

  3. What a wonderful post, I've loved taking in your nan's great sense of style and quality. What fantastic additions to your wardrobe, not only are they great to look at and wear, they are also sentimental and a piece of history. Fantastic!!!

  4. your Nan is lucky too, to have a granddaughter that appreciates her. Hope you wear some of those great items to show her, she will love that.

  5. Wow you're so lucky, your gran had great taste! Loving those skirts :)

  6. Wow!! The piping on the grey suit looks immaculate. I am totally in awe of your nan for sticking to hand-made and even adjusting them when she needed too. Amazing!

  7. Congrats, what a wonderful present! How special it must feel to be able to honour your grandmother by wearing the clothes she made and used. And I'm sure your nan is thrilled that you'll love and use her clothes!

    My grans closet and storage is a treasure chest; everything is high quality and well tended. Unfortunatley, she's much shorter than me and was very, very, thin, so I can't wear her clothes. But that's ok, she keeps finding other treasures for me =) And I know how happy it makes her to know that these things will continue to be loved and cared for.

  8. How lovely that you're bring back to life you grandmother's beautiful clothes!