Sunday, 5 February 2012

Time for a little research

I recently bought a few patterns from a charity shop and in the envelope of the pattern above and it was this lovely little note.
How wonderful!  I love it when you occasionally come across things like this.  This note is dated Feb 1973 which is interesting as the pattern it was in was dated 1960 but is also not one of the ones listed to me made as uniform.  This got me thinking, was the mother cutting out a dress for herself and absent mindedly tucked her daughters note in here?  Or was this pattern previously suitable for uniform?  Or was she a messy dressmaker like me and left things lying around and it ended up in the wrong place?  So I decided to do a bit of investigation.

The pattern was bought at Heelas which was the name of the department store in Oxford which is now a John Lewis.  The locals still know it as Heelas and this is the place listed in the letter for the dressmaker to get her fabric and patterns from and according to an old pupil, even their knickers!  Theale Green School is now called Theale Green Community School and is still teaching pupils today.  The school was originally founded by the very same Ken J V Shield who appears on the letter as headmaster.  It was originally called Theale Grammar School and changed names in 1973 which is the year this letter was written.  The current school uniform colour is green and previously I have found out (see comments) that it was green and gold and the summer dresses were lilac and white striped.  It seems strange nowadays to think that parents had to purchase the materials and make the uniform for their children.

I have also had a good look using the Vintage Pattern wiki to see what I can dig up on the patterns listed.
Simplicity 9800 1971
This is the first pattern and view 3 is on the far left.  I really like this dress and the collar is a really interesting shape and the puff sleeves are really sweet.  Also the length is interesting as the letter states 'skirts should not be excessively short' and the pattern is already well above the knee.  The letter says it can have any style sleeve, cuff or pocket which I find really interesting as it gives quite a lot of scope for creating something unique. 
Simplicity 8881 1970
View 1 is on the left and is even shorter again.  The neckline and fuller skirt are very pretty, I don't think I would mind wearing any on these!

I have found (and purchased) Style 3954 and View 3 is the yellow dress with the oh so cute puffy sleeves.  I wouldn't have minded wearing any of these to school!
Style 3992
My ebay search has come up trumps again!  This is the final pattern on the list, view 2 and 3, both with short sleeves are on the list.   I really love this pattern too!  The little puffed sleeves and the princess seams are really sweet, plus I love that the illustrations are holding hands.  Unfortunately this has only come up in a size 16 so far but I will definatley be looking out for this in my size. 

So there we are, mystery solved!


  1. Oh wow, how wonderful! Great research too, shame you can't find pics of the other patterns. I agree that Style patterns seem to be UK ones...I have a couple of my own and when I tried to find out more about them I drew a blank!

  2. That is some great research. I too love it when you find a little extra something in the pattern, especially a scrape of fabric is always nice.

  3. I love that you followed the story to it's end. I thought I had the Style pattern since I sell quite a few, but no. They are still a mystery.
    Good luck!

  4. That note is great and its amazing you found out so much. I think I have a few vintage patterns somewhere you can have if you want, as I'm not exactly skilled at the whole dress making thing!

    Daisy Dayz Home
    Cross-Jones-Photography Home
    Why not enter my New Year New You Giveaways

    1. Really? Wow! That would be awesome! I love finding old letters, postcards and book dedications, I like to think it connects you with the person who used or read them before.

  5. I was at Theale Grammar School in February 1973 but I was in the sixth form by then and uniform rules were relaxed slightly for us! Up until the sixth form, all our uniform (including knickers!!) had to be bought at Heelas in Reading. The school colours back then were black and gold but I think the summer dresses were lilac and white stripes. Ken Shield was a brilliant headteacher and was known as Skin.

    1. Oh wow! Thank you so much for commenting! This is really interesting! I was imagining that the fabric was green so to find out that it was lilac and white stripe is really interesting! I am really glad he was a good teacher and I hope you have happy memories!