Dress Design and all that…

Wedding dress design 1949-1950

Dance dress designed by me in 1948. Black lace and net over gold satin.

Two designs for different occasions but they reveal the difference that a year or two can make in fashion.
I think I designed the gold/black ball dress in 1948 and the wedding dress a year later. Of course I was a mere teenager at the time and did not have the benefit of further education, TV and the vast number of magazines that are around today. But I did know how to cut a garment pattern. I attended a variety of art and craft classes in the Secondary Art School I attended between the ages of 13 and 15. Plus one term at the Nottingham College of Art and Craft. It should have been a two year Design Course but I had to withdraw so that I could earn a wage.
My dad had become completely disabled and the benefits expected today did not exist when I was young. My mum worked as a cleaner and, in our home lacked all the labour saving devices expected in today’s homes. It was hard enough putting food on the table. My mother never seemed to stop working. Dad (often angry and showing it) did his best to earn a little money while sitting at the kitchen table (the kitchen being the only room with heating — fire needed for hot water). Dad tried his hand at thonging handbags and purses, repairing vacuum cleaners, renovating old dolls prams and various other activities. None really earned much and likely most of it went to pay for his football coupons each week. Like today, those that can least afford it, gamble in the hope of winning that pot of gold at the end of an imaginary rainbow. But it all worked out okay.
Someone heard that I had left college and was working in a shop. This lady happened to be secretary to the boss of a garment manufacturer. I was interviewed on the strength of having a reputation for doing well both at college and for my general artistic talents. So, being engaged as a trainee designer and assistant to the chief designer, I had a foot on the ladder to success.
But I digress. These two outfits reflect my thoughts at the time as to what was fashionable. I made a booklet of designs – painted on black paper (most of them are on an earlier post) and the wedding dress featured on the first page.
The evening dress was something I thought of making for myself. But I chose something quite different. (That too is on another post).
I showed my designs to someone at the time and he said I was an uncut diamond. He was right. I did not move in the right circles and had to find my way to improve and succeed. But my ideas went down okay at the firm where I worked and buyers bought my designs. They liked the youthful image. I was on my way up. Switching to different firms gaining experience and then back again helped to broaden my outlook. After my children came along, I switched to freelance work, embracing not only outerwear but lingerie and housecoats too. I worked hard (I cut the patterns too) as we had a family and a home to look after too. Later, I gave up most of the designing and went in for teaching. The hours and work were more compatible with having a young family. But that’s another story!

My web sites:
Magpies Nest Publishing
Writing For Joy
Diary of a Country Lady
My books
Ask Gran Hobson
NEW SITE — Lakeland Writer — Checkmate and lovely photographs of Cumbria

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One Response to “Dress Design and all that…”

  1. Damyanti Says:

    This post is fascinating for so many personal reasons. Way to go Gladys…do post more about your designing days.

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