When we were in London last month, I went to the Women's Library in the East End, partly to register to use the library, and to spend a few happy hours reading old womens' magazines from the 1970s, and partly to see an exhibition, Hand Made Tales, that runs until April 20th.
There are some larger items, including a Pearly Queen dress, based on a 1920s black drop-waist dress, with mother-of-pearl buttons sewn all over it in complicated patterns. Also a wonderfully opulent patchwork coat made from samples of Macclesfield silk - the maker had intended it as a dressing gown for her daughter, but the daughter quite rightly thought that it was too grand for that, and wore it as an evening coat. You can find a blog post that has photos of the Pearly Queen outfit and the patchwork coat here. Another beautiful garment is a crocheted short-sleeved white cardigan, made in the 1950s and lent by the Fashion Museum in Bath - very shapely and elegant. But it was made for the original owner by a customer of her newsagents shop - I guess for payment, which seemed rather outside the terms of reference of the exhibition.
One thing I found particularly interesting was the caption to a Stitchcraft magazine from March 1965 (photo to follow some time). The front cover of Stitchcraft always showed a knitting pattern featured in the magazine. This one was by a designer called Eve Sandford and the caption said that her ambition was to have one of her designs on the cover of Stitchcraft. One of her patterns (for a salmon-pink boucle jacket) was offered to Daily Telegraph readers in 1961, and the newspaper had more than 3000 orders for it in a week. I had not heard of Eve Sandford, but I have since learnt that she was a prolific knitwear designer who sold her designs to spinners like Patons & Baldwins, as well as to magazines. I've said before that I think it is sad that knitwear designers were mostly anonymous back then, so it was nice to find one identified. And her design albums are now held in the Victoria & Albert Museum archives - good to know that her work has been preserved.