As you may know I go to the Goodwood Revival every year, which is held in the back garden of Chichester, West Sussex. It's become somewhat of a tradition for my husband & I as well as his parents to go together, which I really enjoy as it gives us all a chance to dress up and for my mother-in-law and I to go sifting through rails of clothes at the same time!
Last year I had the amazing opportunity of designing & making a series of 1940's dresses for the ladies representing Kenwood UK.
As I was so busy making these I had no time to make a dress for myself, so I wore a 1950's wiggle dress I had in my collection instead.
This year I'm planning ahead and making myself a dress waaay in advance to guarantee that I will have a wonderful handmade item to wear.
During one of my evening sessions on Ebay while trawling through fabric, patterns & clothes I saw this listing, but (thankfully) stopped myself from bidding on it.
This is listed as an authentic British Womens Voluntary Service dress circa WW2.
I really wanted this. But I'm not an idiot, and a dress like this would mean paying serious money which I don't have (this eventually sold for over £85).
So what does a girl do when she can't have a dress that she wants, but she has the ability to sew?
Well she makes one of course!
So for this years Goodwood Revival I will be going in military uniform, in my very own handmade 1940's WVS dress. I already have a pattern for it which I've mentioned previously,
Pretty close huh?
Now all I need is to find some lovely green wool, and to purchase some WVS badges/patches off Ebay!
It's not until September so I'm in no rush, but I'm very excited to make this. In my excitement I researched on the internet what the role entailed, and managed to find a few photos too!
The WVS was set up in 1938 and volunteers had many jobs, such as
- Helping & aiding people during air raids
- Organising first aid courses in cities they thought would be targeted by the Luftwaffe
- They played a key part in evacuation helping an estimated 1.5 million people (mainly children) out of the cities
- They collected clothing for the needy, and distributed the 'Bundles for Britain' packages that were sent from the American Red Cross
- They were there to greet returning & dispersing troops to hand out food, drink & warm clothing
- Played a vital part during the Blitz by setting up canteens to feed ARP wardens & firemen, as well as help the injured and homeless.
- Provided 'rest centres' for people who had lost their homes, or had nowhere to turn to (an estimated 10,000 people were helped by the WVS every night of the Blitz, which lasted for 57 nights)
- They risked their own lives by working in some of the worst affected areas, a total of 241 volunteers were killed during the Blitz
The uniform itself went through a few incarnations, but I've decided to wear mine with a green beret that was introduced in the early 1940s, along with a 'fake' gas mask box, and if i'm feeling particularly adventurous, a matching overcoat (but I might alter this to a cape with a hood, reminiscent of a siren suit)
I'm about to get very patriotic, but after researching more about these women I have such great admiration and respect for what they did, and how vital their roles were for keeping moral up, supporting their communities, and ensuring the British public were safe.
Safe to say I will be wearing my dress with pride in September.