A while ago I was idly browsing Style sewing patterns on ebay, as you do, and spotted this.
It wasn't just a pattern; someone had also bought the material to make it up, put the two together, and then abandoned the project. We've all been there. (Well, I have. More than once.) The chance to buy some vintage fabric in a colour scheme I loved, and a perfect print as well, was just too good to pass up.
|Pattern . . .
|. . . and fabric (with tape measure for scale)
Clearly the mystery would-be dressmaker was fully prepared, as the bag also contained a spool of Sylko thread (dark lilac, since you ask) and a zip. Most of the vintage zips I have acquired in mixed auction lots have metal teeth, and a chunkiness which you now only see on tent doors and the like, but this one is nylon and perfectly usable.
|Everything you need to make a dress
Like the blue and white viscose currently on my cutting out table this fabric, a medium-weight cotton, is printed off grain - which might be why its previous owner abandoned the project. But I shall pre-wash it, see how it dries, and decide what to do from there. This is unlikely to happen this year, though, so it will marinate in the stash for a while first.
|Another 3.9m added
When I was showing my acquisition to my mum, I noticed a detail on the bag which makes the whole thing extra special.
Jenners was the department store in Edinburgh, where I grew up. It opened in 1838, but was destroyed by a fire in 1892. The new (fireproof) building was opened in 1895.
|Jenners, seen from Princes Street
|Interior, 1895 (thanks to thevictoriangallery for the photo)
Known as the "Harrods of the North" it remained family-owned until 2005.
|Aerial view, including the 1960s extension
Going to see the Jenners Christmas tree was, for me and probably every other child who lived in or near Edinburgh, an annual ritual. It filled the Great Hall, reaching up almost to the rafters. How they got the tree in there was always a mystery - I remember Dad trying to convince me that the glass roof slid back, and it was lowered in (I was very young at the time)! If you really want to know, and to see just how massive the tree was, this video explains all.
|The Jenners tree
For Jenners, like so many department stores, Covid lockdowns were the final straw and it closed last year. The building's owners have announced a four-year plan to restore it to its full Victorian glory, and reopen it as a hotel and new store - and they have promised that the Christmas tree will definitely return. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to making up my own little piece of Jenners history.