Workshop Wednesday – New Projects…

Maybe that should be ‘new to us’ projects, as everything we have is at least second or third hand!

The G.O.G. Squad (AKA The Monday Men/The Torpedo Team), famous for their work in restoring both the sectioned display torpedo (as seen on the Battle of the Atlantic display at the 2015 show) and the 1918 vintage petrol pump have taken on a 1934 Austin 10 Lichfield. This hasn’t been driven for many years (I believe it was last taxed in 1989). Dennis has previously owned and restored a couple of these, so it looks like it’ll be in safe hands!

It was rather dusty when it arrived in the yard so we gave it a wash before wheeling it in to the workshop.

So far, Dennis has had a few sputters out of the engine but the thread on the carb is stripped, so a repair is necessary.

Now… the big one! Following on from the big 2013-14 project of The Ops Room, we seem to have acquired something even bigger. This zeppelin/gondola combo was formerly part of a fairground ride. It is mostly fibreglass on a steel frame. The War and Peace Revival has another one of these, dressed as a German Zeppelin. We are going to adapt ours to look more like a barrage balloon (our logo), and to use it to promote the show.

So far, Mike has been trying to sort out the wheels to make it more easily manoeuvrable. We have wheels and tyres but alas one of the hubs is seized. Might need some heat….


It looks like (fingers crossed) we have figured out the wiring gremlins on the Little Lady Jeep, which might be in need of a new lamp switch. It’s been moved out of the workshop for now, to avoid spoiling the lovely new paint!

The Little Lady receiving attention on the wiring
The Little Lady receiving attention on the wiring

At present a large portion of the workshop is taken up by the mighty 4.5″ artillery gun. This has been a long term project and stalled somewhat recently due to the focus on the Jeep. In order to give the project a boost, we are fixing up a spare gantry we found down the back of the proverbial sofa, to more easily lift components. The wheels were decidedly un-round on this, so solid ones are being fitted.


Plenty to get stuck into over winter. Volunteers are always welcome, particularly if you would like to help paint the zeppelin! If you are interested in helping out, drop me a line at

Make Do Monday – Making of the skirt

Hello Monday makers, today we are putting our skirt together and attaching it to the bodice pieces and sewing our zip in to the side-seam.

  1. Start by reinforcing the centre of the skirt front yoke and gather the front skirt between the notches.



2. Now pin the front piece yoke to the bottom skirt piece and gather the material so that they line up between the notches. I also cut a small notch on the centre bottom point to make it easier to pin in to place.


Stitch your two curved seams.


3. Make sure that the gathers look even and then press the seam upwards and zigzag/overlock the seams together.

4. Stitch your two bottom back pieces of the skirt together and pin to the top skirt yoke.


5. Pin the back pieces of the skirt to the back piece of the bodice and gather the material between the notches. Stitch and zigzag/overlock seams together. Press upwards.

6. Do the same with the front skirt pieces and bodice front. Press seam upwards.

7. Stitch the right hand side of the dress together, matching the seams at waist and hips when pinning back and front pieces together.

8. Stitch the lefthand side together from the armhole down to the notch, about an inch. Change your foot to a invisible foot or a zipper foot and sew the zip into place.



9. When the zip is in place, all you’ve got left is the sleeves, hem and details. Let your dress hang for at least twenty-four hours before doing the hem. See you next monday for the finishing of the dress!


Make Do Monday – Sewing the bodice of the dress

It is Monday again and it’s time to thread up your sewing machines, today we will start to assemble our dresses!


For this sew-along we are using the 1587 Simplicity pattern. Click here to catch up!


I’ve chosen to work with this crepe backed satin in a royal blue colour as I think it will look nice all year round. I’ve also got some thread and an invisible zipper in blue. When making this kind of dress in the 1940s, poppers or buttons could have been used instead, although zips were also around. You can follow the sewing directions in the pattern, here we are going through all of the stages, just in a slightly different order.

  1. Start by making a loop out of your fabric which is going to sit in the back of the neck. You will also need a small button for the closing but lets save this detail for a later stage.
  2. Zig/zag, overlock or turn over twice when making finishing the neckline of the bodice front yokes.
  3. Make the pleats on the bodice yokes front and baste stitch across them to keep them in place.
  4. Now take the back yoke piece and stitch on the loop where you marked the notches on the back bodice piece. Pin and stitch the on the back facing, apply fusible interfacing if you want to. Make sure it’s on the wrong side of the back facing.
  5. Slash between the stitching line so that you’ve got a deep V in the centre back.
  6. Make notches around the neckline if needed and under-stitch on top of the facing on the inside, pressing the seam allowance  towards the facing.
  7. Turn the facing to the inside and pull the loop out. Press with an iron.
  8. We are now going to match the bodice yoke front pieces to the shoulder seams of the bodice back piece, matching up the notches and sewing together the pieces.
  9. Now turn the facing of the front pieces inside and press it down to the same width as the back facing.
  10. Pin and stitch together the two centre front pieces of the bodice and press seam flat.
  11. Prepare the lower bodice piece by gathering between the notches using a long machine stitch, leave the threads long so that you can pull and gather the fabric.
  12. Now fold the knot and turn it inside out leaving ends open, pin it into place in the centre of the lower bodice yoke and baste in place.
  13. Pin your upper and lower bodice yoke pieces together, matching notches and centres. Gather the fabric to fit in places where needed and stitch together. Make sure you don’t catch the free side of the knot.
  14. Press the seam upwards and from the outside turn the knot into the inside of the bodice, pin it in place and stitch it in the groove of yoke seam to catch the knot inside
  15. Trim off all of your loose threads and give your seams a press to make sure that they lie nice and flat.
    DSCN3134It’s looking alright so far don’t you think?

Next week we are putting the skirt together, attaching it to the bodice and sewing our zips into place. Have nice week!

Workshop Wednesday – Research

When working with vehicles and equipment from the past, it’s always interesting to try and find out information on where they have been, what they were used for, and other details in their history.

At the weekend, Ian from the Matador Survivors Database paid us a visit. Ian is compiling a pictorial list of the surviving AEC Matador lorries in the world, and was kind enough to forward us information about the ones in the Shopland Collection that we didn’t have! We now have the build dates and original numbers for nearly all the AECs in the collection, as well as the original intended purpose.

Here’s an example of one of the orders for new Matadors, placed in 1940. This order includes the Artillery Tractor, a regular at the show.  (Courtesy of Stuart Wheeler, Chief Archivist at The Tank Museum, with thanks.)

T9569 - includes artillery tractor

The Matador Artillery Tractor
The Matador Artillery Tractor

In the meantime, we’ve also been doing some delving online.

Here’s a photo (found on Miliblog) of one of the former artillery tractors, in use by Murphy’s of Rochdale. Quite a lot of AECs were converted in this way, with the addition of a Harvey Frost Crane.


As of 2015 this vehicle is in a rather sorry state, having been robbed of many parts and abandoned. At some point a tree has grown through it. Hopefully it will once again turn a wheel in anger some day.

Another of the rather forlorn looking trucks in storage is this Scammell Tank Transporter (currently for sale). These were in use by the British Army until superseded by the Diamond T 980/981.


After the war, this truck was sold into the roadmaking industry, working for Glossop. I believe the trailer shown in the image below (found on CCMV, with thanks to HMVF user madrat) was a grading machine. The slow speed and high traction of the Scammell made it ideal for this role.


This only just scratches the surface of the vehicles that appear at the show, but hopefully gives an insight into what can be found!

Make Do Monday – Cutting out your pattern pieces

Sew-along time Monday Makers! If you missed part one click here.


This week we are opening up the pattern and having a look inside at the different pieces that we are going to use to make the fabulous forties inspired dress above.


Before you cut any of your pieces out it would be best to 1) Decide on what size you are cutting out and 2) Choose between the two versions A and B.IMG_2373

By now you should also have chosen the fabric that you are working with. So that you have got something to lay out your pattern pieces onto once you’ve traced off or cut out the 12 pieces in paper. In the picture above you can see some examples of how to lay out your pieces on your material. To make sure you do not waste any material and make the most use of your fabric you may need to move the bits around depending on your pattern size.


If you think you might only do this dress once or you’re only going to do it in one size you can cut along the line of your patterns pieces in the size you wish to make the dress in. I like to reuse my patterns for different projects so I tend to trace the pieces off onto tracing paper. You can get this in most haberdasheries or you can use baking paper. You want to be able to transfer the correct lines and details on to each one of your pieces so you don’t end up confused when putting your dress together.


For example here I have traced off piece number 8; the skirt yoke front in a size 10, I know that I need to cut out 2 on fold and I’ve also made a mark for the notches.

Next week we are getting our sewing machines out and starting by sewing the top of the dress together, feel free to ask questions in the comments section if you get stuck!

Workshop Wednesday – Shuffle

The everlasting game of musical vehicles continues! It was high time we unloaded the 3.7inch gun (all 9 tons of it) off the Scania as it likely wasn’t doing the lorry any good.


When that was done, the question was; where shall we put it?


Ah, a nice fit at the back of the shed, but now we are down by one space. So… which truck needs work doing to it?

The Chevrolet FAT was chosen, this needs some welding done to the roof hatch to improve its all-weather capability (the semi convertible is fine in good weather but winter is on the way). Off it goes to the Running Shed (Land Rovers providing front and rear escort as driving vintage green vehicles in the dark can be a somewhat risky experience).


There’s a new arrival in the yard, too. This is an American-built Diamond T 969 wrecker. Post-war it’s been modified with a Harvey Frost crane and a few other changes, including a rather large Leyland diesel engine. We have another 969 in the restoration queue, but the plan is to clear our desks (and the workshop) before taking this project on.

It arrived on Ewan’s trusty low loader. Slight issue of unloading – no brakes and no batteries! The David Brown tractor stepped in with a solid tow bar to ease it down the ramp and in to the field. Ewan was able to bump start it to drive it in to position.

Make Do Monday – Get Ready for a Sew-Along

Hello Monday Makers, I think it’s time for a sew-along!

I’m going to make myself one of these retro inspired dresses and I would love it if you joined me! As most vintage patterns tend to come in limited sizes I thought that Simplicity’s 1587 “Miss petite dress” would be accessible for most people. The pattern comes in sizes 6-22 and contains 12 pieces with the option of two different length sleeves and a gathered V-neck with a bow or button.1587dresspattern

This is what the pattern looks like and here are a few links to where you can find it online:, and John lewis.

If we were going to stay true to the era of make do and mend, a curtain length might get chopped, but I’m on the look out for a plain Crepe back satin for my dress. Depending on your size, if you are doing sleeve A or B and the width of your fabric you will need between 2.5-3 meters of material.simplicity1587

This pattern has got that typical 40’s shape with attention to the shoulders and waist. If you are in need of some inspiration here is our post about 1940’s fashion for women. Hopefully by next Monday we’ve picked our material and decided on the sleeve length.


Before we know exactly how much material we need to get, we need to find our size. To get your measurements right you need:

  • a tape measurer
  • a pen
  • a piece of paper

To begin, write down bust, waist, hip and back(neck to waist) on a piece of paper and start off by measuring around the fullest part of your bust. Write down your measurement in inches. At the waist you measure the narrowest part and when measuring the hips you should measure as the pattern suggests, 9 inches down from the waist. Last thing, measure straight from your neck down to your waist. This will help you decide if you need to adjust the length of the bodice of the dress before cutting out your material.

Now using the measurements that you’ve written down, you can find what size will fit you best by comparing them to the “Finished garment measurements” box at the bottom of the pattern chart. Then have a look in the “Pattern size box” (pink box) to see what size you’re tracing off!  If you want to know more about Simplicity’s sizing you can visit here.

To be continued!

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Simplicity or any other website mentioned.