Make Do Monday – Poppies Finished!

Hello Monday makers!

As you might remember from last week, Paddy started knitting some poppies and this week we’ve got the results! The first of the three patterns to be tried out was a woman’s weekly poppy pattern:100_1069This pattern was more for the experienced knitter working with very small needles and intricate details. But look at the result, the leaf and the petals on this poppy are beautiful!

Now, the second two poppies are much easier and quicker for those of you holding out for a different alternative. They use larger needles (3mm and 3.5mm) and have no leaves.100_1072Both of the other patterns were free downloads. One of them came from a great source of free patterns; 2


They are all different sizes and have slightly different details but all look really nice and is a fun, smaller project for those looking to have something to do in an evening or two. Below is a photo of all three poppies!

100_1071If you came to last years show you might have noticed that we made felt poppies in the Home Front Marquee? We had a lot of children learning how to sew on buttons by making their own poppies using red felt and a black button and thread. DSCN0228


So don’t worry if you can’t figure knitting out on your own, come and join us by the Make do and Mend table on the 11th and 12th of June at the North Somerset Showground and try out what works best for you!

Workshop Wednesday – Rust begone!

What a great step forward in the workshop this week. The 4.5″ artillery gun, which has doggedly fought us through every stage of disassembly, finally gave out and with a lift and a twist, the saddle separated from the carriage.

This revealed a rather horrid underbelly of rust and a (thankfully abandoned) rats nest.

The rust was tackled with the wire brushes, chisels and air tools, taking it back to bare metal.

Some zinc primer was duly slapped on to protect it.

Meanwhile, Rich and Mark were kept busy with the Chevrolet Field Artillery Tractor. The roof hatch, which has been bent for a long time, has been straightened and we are working on fitting a new hinge, the old one having succumbed to the elements.

This example is fitted with a Bedford 28hp engine. We suspect it has bottom end wear (Possibly caused by weak oil pressure) and have been trying to diagnose the problem. Mark removed the radiator for better access. The engine is pictured with the rocker cover off.

Over on the 25 Pounder, Jon has been removing the clamps that hold the manoeuvring handles in place (or don’t hold them in place, as Dave found out rather painfully). The springs in the clamps have worn and are not locking in properly. Some fresh grease, and packing out the springs with washers will hopefully do the trick.

Meanwhile, a few items in the collection have moved on to pastures new. The first to go was this Harvey Frost crane (removed from an AEC Matador, which is off to Scotland to be used on a recovery truck based on a Green Goddess (Bedford RLHZ).


The second was one of the Diamond T 969A Wreckers. We were sorry to see this go but it’s off to a new life in Poland. The loading process was interesting (read: gruelling) but we got it on the truck in the end with a little help from the trusty Scania.

Make Do Monday – Knit a Poppy

I hope you’ve had a good weekend! Paddy, one of our Dig for Victory Show volunteers, has been very crafty this week and sourced knitting patterns for making a knitted poppy!

I’m very impressed with what she’s done so far, see below for tips on how you can make a knitted poppy yourself.100_1057A quick google search for “knitting patterns for poppies” brought up three patterns which she downloaded and printed out. The one she chose to do first is a Woman’s Weekly pattern. It looked the nicest, so inevitably it was the most complicated!Finished PoppyAbove is a picture of what the finished poppy should look like. The pattern says to use cotton double knitting but since Paddy had some wool at home in the right colours, she’s decided to use what she had instead. It might be a little bit trickier though!
100_1062This pattern uses very small needles (2mm) and double knitting, so the stitches are very tight. It’s also very small to work. In order to shape the petals you often have to knit twice into the next stitch which is a bit of a squeeze.100_1063One of the most challenging steps is casting off for the petals where you have to cast off purl-wise and simultaneously work twice into every alternate stitch. This gives the edge of the poppy a wavy finish, but it is quite a fiddle, especially if you’re watching television at the same time!

Paddy is just working on the very intricate leaf which she says requires quite a lot of concentration. The stem is luckily easy so that could be something to look forward to if you give this a go!

You might find that this pattern is more for the experienced knitter. For other women’s weekly knitting patterns click here! We’ll return with the finished result and some more crafty projects next week!

Make Do Monday – The finished Blitz dress

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As you might remember from last week, I started cutting out my pieces of material to make the Blitz dress, a 1940’s inspired sewing pattern by Sew la di da Vintage.


I made my darts in the bodice lining and then sew some gathering stitches onto my bodice front.


There are clear photos and instructions which I followed through out the making of my dress.


Stitching the skirts side seams…


I also made sure to press all of my seams after sewing them to get the best result as possible.


Here it is!


To finish the dress off I got this lovely piece of old lace out of my stack of vintage trims and I think it fits perfectly together with the floral fabric. Now I can’t wait to make another one, I think that there are so many ways to make this dress. Next I think I’ll try and make a one with shoulder pads as well for a proper 40’s look!

Workshop Wednesday – More Movie Magic

The past week has seen good progress on the vehicles and artillery, as well as a set building day and promotional event!

In conjunction with The Curzon Cinema in Clevedon and the launch of the new Dad’s Army film, DFVS volunteers welcomed cinema-goers with a display in the lobby, as well as ‘troops’ in uniform and WW2 vehicles outside. Thoroughly enjoyable (despite the weather!) and the film is very much recommended to people of all ages.

Meanwhile, back at the ‘shop…

The Beachmaster Jeep has struggled for a long time with poor/no battery charging and hand starting was often needed. On the ‘Little Lady’ restoration, we installed a rather nifty charge regulator, which comprises new electronics rather than the older mechanical-electrical type. This looks just like the original charge regulator when installed, you wouldn’t know it was there.
We recently acquired another of these magic boxes and Rich set to with fitting it. Prior to the Jeep’s trip out on Saturday a top up of transmission fluid was needed. That’s Harry lying under the jeep in the rain!

The 4.5″ gun has seen a bit of resurgence in attention recently. This week, Paul went down the yard in the direction of the ‘spare’ gun carriage, armed with some heavy tools. He returned with a grin and some rather nice phosphur bronze bushes! Once cleaned up, they looked brand new.

The next task with the elevation gear was the bore out the holes made last week (as this casting has not been fitted before). The pillar drill and some big drill bits made short work of this.

The saddle has now been traversed… with the aid of a 10 ton jack! Decades of debris had collected and prevented it from moving, but we can now at least access the area under the saddle to clean it up. The kingpin still presents a bit of a head scratcher. Looks like there is a locking ring on there but no matter how much we try to persuade it, it does not want to shift at all

More work on the QL Tipper’s braking system. Rich showed Mark and I how to use his brake flaring kit, brilliantly simple and a vintage item in itself! The solid brake lines are now nearly all fitted. Mark is shown here modelling the new front to back line alongside the old one. Rich and Jon have slapped a protective layer of paint on the dash panel so that can be refitted soon.

Over the weekend we also held our first set building session of the year. As it was cold and wet outside we kept it simple (and indoors) by setting up a ‘rubble production line’. This was something of an experiment, not previously attempted by us, but the results were good.

A while back, I was part of a team that made giant model dinosaur, seen here (familiar looking land rover at 3:10):

After building this, we had a large amount of polystyrene left over, which I thought might make a good base for rubble from a bombed-out building. With some advice from Matthew (chief dinosaur builder) we put together a kit.


That’s grey emulsion, latex, lots of polystyrene, and tea. The big bucket on the floor holds lots of chippings of Jesmonite, which is what formed the hard outer surface of the dinosaur. In powder/sanded form it looks a lot like cement.


Step 1 is to mix the paint and latex together in a roughly 60/40 mix. Then, put some gloves on and dip the polystyrene in the mix, making sure to cover all sides.


Next, roll the poly chunks in the jesmonite chips, trying to get as much coverage as possible. Leave out to dry.



With the right production line…..


You can make quite a lot!


Plenty of polystyrene left over afterwards. Feels good to be recycling it rather than throwing it out!


You do go through a lot of emulsion in the process, but the results should hopefully be good. Just need to make sure they don’t blow away on the field, though!

If you are in the Bristol/Somerset area and would like to lend a hand with set building, please send me an email at

Make Do Monday – Cutting out the Blitz dress

Hello Monday makers! Have you seen that tickets for the Dig for Victory Show 2016 are officially on sale on the website!? Today I’m making a start at sewing myself a dress using the Blitz dress pattern from Sew La Di Da Vintage, a dress you might see me wearing at the show!

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I’ve traced off the Blitz dress pattern in my size onto some pattern paper and chosen my fabric. I followed the layout plan on the first two pages to make sure to save fabric when cutting out. There is a note on the back of the pattern reminding you that if you are using a one way printed fabric or one with pile (velvet or corduroy) you might need more fabric than suggested as you have to make sure all of your pieces are going in the same direction.

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The fabric that I’ve chosen to work with is this light green cotton with a floral print which I bought in a charity shop.

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Apart from the pattern pieces in sizes UK 6-8, you also have this booklet with instructions on how to get started and photos of how to sew your dress.

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On the first page you’ve got measurements and a cutting lay out.

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After having cut out all of my pieces I am now onto step 1! Come back next week to see how the dress turned out!

Have you got any sewing projects on the go?

Workshop Wednesday – Practice, Polish and Painting

A busy few weeks in the workshop, here’s the highlights…..

Members of the Garrison kindly came down to give us a refresher on the 25 pounder training. We got both guns out in the yard. Had to make sure all the moving parts worked, the leatherwork etc. was refitted, and Harry polished up some cartridges (you can probably guess which ones from the pictures!).

Jon cleaned up and oiled the cartridge boxes to prevent further corrosion. We’ve also found a problem with the hitch end of the gun, where the spring mechanisms that hold the handles (used when the gun is deployed) are not locking in properly, so we’ve disassembled these to see if we can get them working.

We needed some toolboxes for the guns, so got the grinder on these old boxes, then slapped some zinc primer and some green onto them. Dave’s also been giving the Yellow Tank Signs a makeover for this season.

The little Austin’s overhaul under the GOG Squad is well under way. Seen here with the bonnet covers off. The engine is tiny.

The 4.5″ gun is also progressing. We have found that we may need to traverse the saddle in order to remove it from the carriage. Paul and Adrian have been busy re-assembling the traverse gear.

Rich and Mark have been beavering away with the QL Tipper, and the reassembly of the front hubs. Plenty of the components have been cleaned up, straightened, and given a lick of paint.