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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Back to school swap things I made

I had no idea what to make for the Back to School Swap until my swap partner (Betty B in the USA) told me that her Caleb wanted a school uniform. She sent me some photos of him and it was none other than the intrepid Caleb who took to White Water Rafting at the 2011 Sasha Festival. A sporty, loving boy making the most of his opportunities.
Betty's Caleb at the 2011 Sasha Festival
Betty's Caleb having fun playing with one of the babies
My mind went to my primary school and I got on with the fun and pleasure of researching and creating. I was gratified to find out that the uniform has hardly changed since I was at the school.

knitting the school socks, from page 132 of the 3 Ann's book
Pinehurst school socks in progress
Nicholas James modelling the partly made blazer and socks
This is the letter I sent with the items for Betty :

When you told me your Caleb wanted a school uniform I thought not of English public schools which have uniforms (though the state schools have uniforms too) but of my own primary school in Cape Town, South Africa. 

When I went to Pinehurst Primary School ( in Pinelands during the 1970s it was a very new school, white children only. This was the height of the apartheid era and schools were strictly segregated. My family were very anti apartheid (but as my parents were British Passport holders resident in SA, they couldn’t vote, though we had considerably more privileges than Black, Asian or Coloured families including access to some of the best education in the state sector). I am extremely proud of the fact that at the earliest opportunity both my primary school and my high school (Pinelands High School decided to admit children of any race, but this happened after my school days. Both schools go from strength to strength which is wonderful. 

The uniform I have made is the boys Summer uniform for Pinehurst Primary School and the cricket clothes (your Caleb seems a sporty boy as he likes white water rafting). See This means there is no school tie (they only use a tie in the winter). All items I made myself, except for the cricket ball and bat which I bought in the UK. The cricket pads I made from lolly sticks and fabric. I did all the hand embroidery. The blazer is made from my elder daughter’s old school blazer (I was able to make three from the fabric, as I'm making the boy and girl Summer uniforms for my own Sasha family). The socks I knitted from a pattern in the second 3 Ann’s book. The main uniform is virtually unchanged since my days at the school and I can remember wearing those socks with their distinctive stripes. I haven’t made shoes as this is next on my list of things to try and learn how to do. The uniform requires black lace up shoes and the cricket outfit requires white sports shoes (they’re called trainers here and ‘tackies’ in SA). I haven’t knitted the sports socks (they should be black with yellow stripes).

The blazer badges (I made 3) with my original blazer pocket and badge,
the cricket shirt and sock in progress
The 3 blazer badges and my original badge, along with the school logo
The embroidery on the cricket shirt
Reuben and Nicholas James helped model the clothes as the outfit came together.  Reuben was glad to pose for the photos when everything was finished.  The photo session which would have been outdoors ended up coming inside when the rain began to fall.
Reuben in the cricket outfit
cricket pads I made from lolly sticks
Reuben indoors in the cricket outfit
Reuben in the cricket shirt
Reuben wears the school shirt, shorts and socks 
with the addition of the completed blazer 
close up of the blazer and badge 
close up of the socks 
The Pinehurst cricket set 
The blazer was fully lined
(from the school jacket pattern in the 3 Ann's book)
Miniature Pinehurst blazer, socks, shorts and shirt
the complete set ready for Betty and her Caleb 
Betty's parcel took a bit longer to arrive than mine, and I was relieved to get a message from her today confirming that it had got to her at last. She said "I have received a most wonderful school uniform, the cricket ball and bat is something I have never seen before, what a delight."  She went on to explain that she knows nothing about cricket so I've sent her some information about the game, which is a distant cousin of baseball and rounders.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Back to school swap things we received

I participated in the Back to School Swap organised by Lorraine and was paired with Betty B in the USA.  The parcel from Betty arrived yesterday and my girl was delighted.  I had asked for Laura to be the lucky doll to enjoy the swap, so my daughter had the great pleasure of opening the bag of goodies inside the box.

Laura immediately changed into her new school dress, cardigan and shoes and the whole bag of school accessories came with us for the journey to my elder daughter's concert.  The maracas, silver cup and camera were a big hit on the journey.

Laura holds a maraca (perfect little wooden musical rattles)
Helping Laura hold the other maraca
Laura plays the maracas during the car journey
Laura wins the silver cup
for her photo of a bird in flight
(my girl's story)
Today my girl started playing with the various things and making an organising box for keeping things tidy in the classroom, so these photos were taken in her bedroom under artificial light just before she reluctantly went to bed.
All the school accessories from Betty B
Maracas, Play-Doh, Playing cards,
apple and ice cream in the box my girl made 
Piggy glove puppet, camera, 3 mugs and silver cup
puzzle book, word search, mini dominoes and yahtzee dice game
mini felt tip pens, stickers, tiny pair of scissors
which really work, sellotape, phone book, scrap book,
pencil crayons and pencil sharpener
gorgeous little notebook and pen, which Betty had personalised
with a photo of  her baby Sasha inserted in the front
the little notebook which my girl has decided
is the 'weekend book' which a child takes home
for class reward for the best work of the week
the miniature camera
close up of the adorable maracas and play-doh
the delicious shiny apple (for teacher) and ice cream
Betty told me that she made all the clothes, she gives a sewing class to half a dozen women every week. She said "The dress is a print of our Indian corn.  We braid the tops and hang it on our door in the fall. The sundress/apron is my own style enlarged and altered from a smaller old pattern. It is my pleasure to put a smile on your daughters face."

Betty's note on the sundress
The lovely sundress 
Laura in her new American school clothes 
close up of the smocking 
The knitted cardigan
Thank you Betty B for such a wonderful collection of Back to School items from the USA.  Playing school during the remainder of our summer holidays will be great fun as a result for my girl, her Sasha doll Laura and the rest of the doll family.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Ride a Cock Horse

Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes. 

Nicholas James and Florence
as 'Ride a Cock Horse' at the 2012 Sasha Festival
I have realised that although I blogged about the 2012 Sasha Doll Festival in the UK at the time and showed some photos of my 'dress a Sasha' entry in those posts, I have not blogged about the conception and creation of the outfits.  

In fact, the idea came in 2011 before I even had Florence, I had baby Mabel (my first Sasha) but I was in the process of buying Florence. The Nursery Rhyme theme was the most appealing because of a rhyme which comes from near where I live, but how to do this became something I thought about on my way to work in the mornings. I spent some time researching the origins of the rhyme 'Ride a Cock Horse', the most likely period and therefore also what the lady's costume should be like. I even requested an old book via the local library to find out more about riding habits of the period as well as undergarments because I wanted the whole ensemble to be as historically accurate as possible.  I purchased the white horse from the USA via eBay - an incredibly lucky find and I gave it to my younger girl for Christmas 2011.

This is what I compiled and displayed with the entry:

The identity of the ‘fine lady’ is said to be either Queen Elizabeth 1, Lady Godiva or Lady Celia Fiennes (7 June 1662 – 10 April 1741). There is no real evidence to support any of these cases; however this display is based on Lady Celia Fiennes, on the grounds that the line should be 'To see a Fiennes lady'. 

Lady Celia, whose brother was William Fiennes, 3rd Viscount Saye and Sele (c. 1641-1698) of Broughton Castle, Banbury, was the first woman to ride on horseback to every county in England, between 1684 and about 1712 , accompanied by a couple of servants.  She wrote about all her journeys in her diary, describing the places she visited, and she came to Stony Stratford in Buckinghamshire, and on two other journeys rode to Banbury, one of these coming close to Stony Stratford.

Thence to Stony Stratford, so Cross ye river Aven again 12 mile, and Enter Buckinghamshire. At Stony Stratford wch is a little place built of stone they make a great deale of bonelace and so they do all here about, its the manuffactory of this part of ye Country, they sit and worke all along ye streete as thick as Can be. 
Banbury is a pretty little town, the streets broad and well pitched, the whole Country is very pleasant and the land rich – a red earth. They make some of their fences with stones – dry walls without Morter. It seemes much on a flatt and you have a large prospect, from thence to London we go by Alesbury 20 mile, thence to London 30 mile. 

Local Stony Stratford legend has it that the ‘cock-horse’ is from the famous ‘Cock Hotel’, a 15th century coaching Inn which served many passengers in the great days of coach travel.  The Cock Hotel is next door to The Bull Hotel, and travellers visiting each Inn vied with each other to tell outrageous tales of the road, known as ‘cock and bull’ stories. 

‘Lady Celia’ wears:
  • A full length sleeveless linen chemise, trimmed with old lace 
  • A full length gathered ‘petticoat’ skirt fastened with a button, hand embroidered with feather stitch 
  • A matching riding jacket, hand embroidered with feather and satin stitch, and trimmed with bead buttons 
  • A doublet of patterned brocade, trimmed with bead buttons and hand-made loop button holes 
  • Gathered lace wristlets 
  • A cravat made of old lace 
  • A black felt hat trimmed with feathers, old lace and hand embroidery 
  • White knitted long socks (hidden in the boots) 
  • Knee high Black leather boots (made by Lisa Hartley), trimmed with gold bells 
  • Rings on her fingers made with embroidery thread and beads 
The ostler/servant wears: 
  • Linen shirt with gathered wrists 
  • Brown knee length breeches 
  • Long knitted socks 
  • Black shoes (Sasha Marina shoes) 
The side saddle is made from salt dough, acrylic paint and leather; it is fastened over the forward facing saddle which came with the horse (Battat Morgan).

Making the Ride a Cock Horse outfits

The Riding Hat from above
Front view of the Riding Hat
I made the hat myself – it involved stitching the pieces together and soaking it in PVA glue and water then drying it to shape.  This was quite a challenge which required some experimental work.  I then stitched the gold thread around the brim and feathers and lace in place.  

The hand embroidered Riding Jacket
Close up of the jacket embroidery
Close up of the jacket embroidered right cuff
Close up of the jacket embroidered left cuff
The jacket I designed and made from scratch, in fact my earlier attempt I rejected as the style was wrong.  I loved doing the embroidery and stitching on the bead buttons and making the loop buttonholes (fine blanket stitch).  I did matching embroidery on the skirt.  
The riding skirt
Button and fastening on the skirt
Hand embroidered hem of the riding skirt
The riding jacket and skirt, doublet and chemise
The lace trimmed chemise
detail of the chemise hem
The doublet
close up of the doublet buttons and fastenings
The hardest challenge was the saddle.  The horse had its own plastic saddle, perfectly acceptable for forward facing riding, but Lady Feinnes rode side saddle and however much I tried I could not get Florence to sit on the existing saddle sideways without toppling off.  This would clearly be too precarious for an exhibition, so I made the saddle by protecting the existing saddle with cling film and moulded the salt dough over it.  The dough took a week to dry because it was quite thick, and it did crack a bit so had to be glued. I glued leather straps to the underside of the side saddle and tied them to the existing straps.  Florence had a black elastic strap tied around her waist under her clothes and this was tied under the saddle and horse, all hidden by her skirts.  This ensured that she didn’t fall off the horse.
The riding hat, wristlets, lace cravat and rings on her fingers
close up of the rings on her fingers
The lace wristlets
Sasha’s don’t have separated fingers so the rings on her fingers were beads which I stitched onto skin colour thread bangles which fitted around her fingers – she had these on both hands.  The lace wristlets were gently pushed up her cuffs once the jacket was on, they were not sewn to the jacket.  I made the socks for both the Lady and the ostler.  In the event the Lady wore the boots without the socks (though they did fit within the boots), this is partly because I was running out of time setting her up and Lisa Hartley kindly stepped in to help get the boots on her feet.
The ostler's simple shirt and breeches
Ostler's shirt with gathered cuffs
Ostler's breeches with drawstring waistband
We realised that the ostler might also fall over during the exhibition, so I showed my husband what I needed by way of a doll stand and he made a simple rod mounted in a square wooden base.  I covered the base in green felt to match the 18 inch square of ‘grass’ felt they were displayed on, and the rod went up the ostler’s breeches and was held close to him by the drawstring waistband.

I got a great deal of pleasure from designing and creating this Dress a Sasha entry. 


Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary, freely available electronic version available at ‘A Vision of Britain through Time’, with maps and hyperlinks to the places mentioned.