Make Do Monday – Paper Christmas Decorations

I’m not really a fan of the shops tradition of bringing out all of the Christmas decorations at the same time as Halloween. Seen as it was the first Sunday of advent yesterday and the first of december tomorrow, I think it is alright to start feeling a bit Christmassy now though.

I have decided to make my own Christmas decorations this year and you could too! For the paper decorations I’m about to show, you don’t even have to buy anything! All you need is some kind of paper; be it leftover wrapping paper an old newspaper or even a book that is falling to pieces.


Apart from the paper you will also need:

  • A ruler
  • a pair of scissors
  • a pencil
  • string
  • a stapler
  • a glue stick


I am recycling this pretty wrapping paper with roses and writing. Because it is white on the back I am going to fold over my strips of paper. If you are using card or paper with print on both sides you don’t have to fold and glue your strips of paper.


Start by marking out long strips approximately 4 cm wide.


Cut these out on the line, glue together and fold in half.


Now cut your long strips of paper into 1 x 10 cm, 2 x 12 cm, 2 x 14 cm and 2 x 16 cm. Lay them as seen above with the shortest strip in the middle and the longest on the sides.


Lay all of your pieces together as above and staple once or twice through the lot. Tie a knot on a piece of string.


Pinch all of the pieces together at the top and lay the piece of string in the middle of the strips. Staple through all of the pieces.


You can also make lots of different sized and printed ones if you like, all from bits you’ve got at home!

Workshop Wednesday – Clearing the Decks

As mentioned before, we’re making a concerted effort to finish all the current projects in the workshop before bringing new ones in. Currently we have:

Bedford QL Tipper in Bay 1

4.5″ Artillery Gun in Bay 2

Waiting in the wings is the Chevrolet FAT, which does need some TLC to bring it up to standard for use with the ‘new’ 25 pounder gun. There’s also the Bedford MW which is currently paused awaiting a slot.

HOWEVER, Airship 1 does need to be done by 2016’s show, so we brought the front axles around to the door to get them apart (we vowed not to bring them inside for fear of not getting them out again!). The idea is to make one good axle from the two steering ones, both very battered and bruised after a hard life.

It looks like we have two good un-seized hubs so they will be shortly off to Mike N to rebuild and reassemble them.

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It was a pretty bitter wind outside as you can tell from Mark’s attire!

Meanwhile, Adrian, Rich and Jon were freeing off and greasing more parts of the 4.5″ artillery gun. This handle on the leg, and the tow hitch are now much nicer to move and require a lot less hammer!


Mike, Jon and I were also carrying on with the brake drums on the Bedford QL tipper. There was a mix of decades-old grease and corrosion on these, which was wire brushed, scraped and chiselled off. To protect it from oxidation, I gave in and added thinner to the tub of World’s Oldest Primer, which magically transformed it from the consistency of blu-tac to that of actual paint!

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On Sunday 22nd a small detachment was dispatched to the Malvern Militaria Fair to spread the word about the show on 2016, recruit stallholders, and of course buy things.

It does say something for me that the only things I took photos of were wooden boxes! They were very nice boxes, though…

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Make Do Monday – Proper Tea

I’ve got a busy day ahead so I’m going to make myself a cup of tea and get on with it. As a treat I thought I’d share this video with tips on how to make tea sponsored by the Empire Tea Bureau in 1941.

The six golden rules if you can remember:


Always use a good quality tea.

Always use freshly drawn water.

Remember to warm the teapot or urn.

Measure the right quantity of tea for the amount of water in the pot.

The water must reach boiling point, pot to the kettle not kettle to the pot.

Let the tea brew for 5-10 minutes before serving.

I don’t think much have changed in over 70 years! What is your favourite kind of tea and how do you make it?

Workshop Wednesday – Brake Drums and Big Guns

As always, plenty going on in the workshops…

On the Bedford QL Tipper, Rich was kept busy rebuilding the front brake assemblies with the refurbished cylinders.

One of the brake lines had a hole in, so this was removed and a replacement will need to be made up. Slightly fiddly as it wraps under the leaf spring (which is under compression) but got it out in the end.

I started cleaning up the brake drums on the back and slapped a bit of the World’s Oldest Primer on to them.

Meanwhile, Mark had the task of digging out a spare Staghound Armoured Car transmission from under one of the benches. He had to remove the gear linkage, which is missing from the gearbox that’s currently being fitted to the vehicle.

We also have some great news. The Shopland Collection has teamed up with The Garrison, who are a re-enactment unit who specialise not only in wartime artillery pieces, but also accurately representing period correct drill.

In their own words:

The Garrison Artillery Volunteers are a volunteer hobby group of historians whose passion is the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The group has three main sub-sections – field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery and a searchlight unit – and undertakes historical displays depicting various aspects of life in the Royal Artillery during the twentieth century.

A detachment of The Garrison are going to attend DFVS 2016. They are also looking after the Shopland Collection’s 3.7-inch HAA, whilst the collection has taken on the task of bringing a 25-pounder gun up to working order. The Garrison kindly took on a detachment of workshop wednesday volunteers for the weekend to initiate training on the QF 25-Pounder Mk. II. A great weekend was had by all, and we have a lot of homework and practice to do in the meantime!

The Garrison currently fields an impressive range of historical artillery pieces, complete with portees, limbers and support units. You can see their website here.

Big thanks to Dave Badman for bringing the ‘new’ gun home.

Make Do Monday – Clothes rationing

Last week I went to an event in Bristol called “Love the future of fashion”. I learned that in the UK we throw away 1.5 million tonnes of clothing every year. Some because the clothes aren’t made from good quality in the first place but also because we buy a lot more clothes than we need today. This made me think of the rationing in Britain during the Second World War, I know we’ve mentioned the Make do and Mend ethos before, so today I thought we could learn a bit more about clothes rationing.

Clothes rationing was announced in June 1941 as the British government needed to reduce production and consumption of civilian clothes to make sure materials could be put to good use and release workers and factory space for war production. To most people these news came as a bit of a surprise but as with food rationing, one of the other reasons for introducing civilian clothes rationing was to ensure a more equal sharing of clothing and improve the opportunity of finding clothes in the shops for everyone.


Image source

The rationing scheme worked by allocating each type of clothing item a “points” value which depended on how much material and labour went into making it. Eleven coupons were needed for a dress, two needed for a pair of stockings, and eight coupons required for a man’s shirt or a pair of trousers. When you bought something new you had to hand over your coupons as well as money. Adults were given 66 points to last one year but this became less over time and in 1945 only 24 coupons were issued over 8 months.

Children were allocated an extra 10 coupons as they often grew out of their clothes quicker but these needed to cover school uniforms as well and some women found it difficult to clothe their families. The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) set up clothing exchanges to meet the needs of this problem! Families could take the clothes that their children had outgrown and got points that they could spend on new clothes at the exchange. Everything was useful to someone so very little was thrown away!


Throughout the war, special provisions were made for some people, including manual workers, civilian uniform wearers, diplomats and theatrical performers. New mothers got 50 coupons extra to provide for their babies. Some people found innovative ways to get around the rationing, using black out material and upholstery fabrics to make clothes out of. Parachute silk was highly priced to make new underwear or even wedding dresses out of! Vogue led a campaign to inspire women to adapt the clothes that they already had using bits of old clothes and trims.


Image source

Clothes rationing ended in March 1949 and I think there is a lot to learn about reusing things from this time in history that we can apply today. If you would like to know more about women’s fashion in the 1940s we’ve made a post about it here.

Sources: BTR, IWM, Rationing.

Workshop Wednesday – Winter is Coming

Two weeks have passed, but we have not been idle. Importantly, the Austin 10 is now idling after some mechanical attention, which is very promising. Next job is to remove and clean out the fuel tank.

In the main ‘shop, now the Jeep is out of the way we can make better use of the space. The not-round wheels have finally been knocked off the gantry, we need to find some suitable replacements. In the meantime the gantry has been erected over the 4.5″ gun, which should allow us to lift some of the really heavy components.

Rob, the latest recruit to the Workshop Wednesday Crew, has a background in armaments and should be able to help us get the gun project back on track!

A few of the parts have been cleaned up and treated to some zinc primer.

The final few pics show how just clearing space around the items being worked on can transform the look of the workshop. Note that the wheels are back on the gun, too.

Project AIRSHIP ONE is getting off the ground (hurrr hurrr) as the front axles have been delivered to the workshop. The idea is to make one good steering axle with a drawbar arrangement to allow the airship to be towed around the countryside. These will need stripping down and rebuilding.

The other upshot of the Jeep’s departure is that work can recommence on the Bedford QL tipper. Rich is working his magic on the wiring loom so we can look at turning it over soon.

We’ve started to clean up and paint the surfaces that will not be visible, first with zinc primer and then black gloss to help waterproof it. The inside of the nose cone is one of these areas, as pictured.

One of the longer term projects, the Diamond T Wrecker, had to be moved, as it was parked next to the bonfire, which isn’t healthy for vehicles at this time of year. Using the trusty David Brown tractor, we bump started it and trundled the old girl up on to the high ground. This should help prevent it sinking into the soil while we sort out some longer term storage.


Make Do Monday – Sewing the sleeves and finishing the dress

This is the final part of the sew-along! Today I am going to show you how to sew the sleeves in and finish the dress off by sewing the hem and adding the final touches!

Here is a link for the first part of the sew along if you’ve missed the details for the pattern etc. Now, I didn’t have quite enough material left to cut both sleeves out in one whole piece so I cut both out in two separate pieces. You don’t have to do this, I just thought I’d clarify why there is a seam going down the middle. Lets finish this dress!

  1. Zig-zag or overlock around the top of the sleeve, then stitch two lines of gathering stitches along the top of the sleeve between the notches.DSCN3235
  2. Pull the loose threads and gather the excess material. DSCN3237
  3. Pin the side-seams right side together, stitch and zig-zag or overlock the seam.DSCN3238
  4. When you’ve sewn both sleeves together, pin them in to the sleeve hole on the bodice of the dress. Make sure that your notches are matching, gather the head of the sleeve to make it fit into place.DSCN3239
  5. When both sleeves are in the dress, hem the sleeves. I used a 2 cm seam allowance here as I wanted to keep the sleeves length.DSCN3240
  6. To get the fun ruching on the sleeve, take a 10 cm piece of elastic and zig-zag along the centre of the sleeve from the hem up to the mark. Now all you have got left is sewing the hem and making sure you haven’t got any loose threads left.

DSCN3241Here is the finished dress!DSCN3247A cut out keyhole with a button in the back of the neck.DSCN3249 An invisible zip in the side.DSCN3251That typical 1940s styled shoulder and sleeves.DSCN3254I’ve pinned on my Poppy that I made at last years Dig for Victory Show in the make do and mend area. Did you try and make this dress? Have you got a fun idea for Make Do Monday to try next, it can be a pattern, a recipe or maybe a book tips? Let us know in the comments section what you think!