Wednesday 3 April 2013

Spring, sunshine and cotton

A proper Spring day, complete with blue skies and sunshine, requires a proper Spring frock.

This 1970s English-made Mackerness cotton maxi dress will be perfect for summer, but for now, a little cardi cover-up is still necessary.
It's an Ebay purchase for 99p; even adding the postage, it still only cost £4. I love the fact that while some items attract ridiculously huge bids, others seem to sneak under the radar, just waiting for me!

1970s cotton maxi dress - Ebay
Mohair tie-front cardigan - flea market
Office black patent leather shoes and bangles - charity shopped
Necklace - gift from my sister

It's fitting that I  am wearing a cotton dress today, especially one made in England.

My mum and eldest sister visited yesterday, and we headed into Derbyshire to Cromford Mill, a World Heritage site. 
It is the birthplace of the factory system, where Richard Arkwright built the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in 1771. In doing so, he changed cotton manufacture from a cottage industry to a factory-based one, and increased output dramatically to meet the demands of a growing population and export markets.

All that, right on our doorstep, and I had never been before!


The history of the cotton industry is fascinating, involving as it does imperialism, slavery, the Industrial Revolution, and significant changes in politics, manufacturing and fashion.
I love social, cultural and industrial history - can you tell? The kings'n'queens type of history is all well and good, but I find the movements, events and inventions that affected people's everyday lives more interesting.


A canal was built to transport the raw cotton from the Liverpool docks to rural Derbyshire, and take the finished product back again for export to the British colonies.
The kids were imagining how they would feel if they had been mill workers!
Children between the ages of 7 and 15 worked 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week, and had 2 days holiday a year. 
Arkwright was considered a reasonably enlightened employer by 18th century standards - he built cottages for the families who worked in his mill, and a Sunday school for the children. 
So their one day off a week was spent predominantly in church... Bet they loved that, poor little buggers!

Seldom Seen, contemplating his fate, had he been born 200 years earlier; and Littlest with my mum, who has just celebrated her 89th birthday. Peas in a pod, they are (anyone else thinking Don't Look Now is forgiven, I thought so too!)
And in case you are feeling sorry for the kids, being dragged round sites of significant industrial history and having no fun...

...we had been for a lovely lunch in Matlock first, a stroll by the river, and had a play on the little boating lake!
That's my sister in the black coat and hat with Littlest - I will have to get some better pics of her sometime, we are quite alike.

I want to head back to Matlock for a rummage in the chazzas (there are 5 or 6) and the vintage/antique shops. 

But for now, it is perfectly pleasant to potter in the garden with Littlest and the cats, finally enjoying some finer weather.

Hope the sun has been shining where you are!



Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

Yes that's the problem with these educational trips en famille. You're not allowed to drag them all round the charity shops...
Looks like you had a lovely day. Isn't your mum looking fab? xxx

Connie said...

You look so pretty in your Spring Green. What a fun family outing. I usually don't get around to seeing the sights around here unless I have visitors. Funny isn't it? So nice that your kids can appreciate what a cushy life they have with you as their super Mom!

Fiona said...

What a great post Curtise. I love this outfit, the dress is gorgeous (especially for 99p!)what a lovely design on the fabric. Your day out at the Mill sounds fascinating, reminding me of that BBC drama North & South a few years back. Your mum looks pretty amazing for 89 and so glad she's not wearing beige! How come your daffs are out? Mine are still in bud, hardly surprising when we had more bloody snow flurries today.
Tell Littlest I love her skirt.

Unknown said...

Love that dress! Suits you well!

freckleface said...

Wow, your first time in Cromford! We took my friend from Sweden there and she kept talking about the birth of the Industrial revolution in an awe-struck way. It is impressive, and like you I love history.

I love your outfit - you look totally fantastic in it, and I am rather impressed with your ability to sniff out the treasures that nobody else sees. Mine always go sky high, like the price of cotton in Gone with the Wind.

Your kids and Mum are adorable! And yes, we need some more shots of your sis :) Garden looks like it is springing to life. The last of our snow has only just melted! xxxxx

OP SHOP MAMA said...

Yay spring - my fav season.
Great 99p score!!! You look gorgeous in it innit.

Yeh I love all that history stuff too. My John happens to be obsessed with gawking at bridges and dams as well.NZ is such a young country - living in uk was such an adventure for us!

Helga said...

O, the post title got my gander up! HURRAH! I'm so happy you've had some sunshine!! And that gloriarse cotton frock is SUCH a great score! You'll get some great wear out of it over these warmer months! I love it, the print and full skirt are divoon!
And a splendid day out! I am fascinated and mortified by the Industrial Revolution.....amazing it all started on your doorstep! You've got such amazing history all around, no wonder you didn't initially realise! It reall y is amazing how different our world is due to that change from cottage to factory based industry. The conditions were appalling, thank goodness, in our world at least, some rights and regulations have been made.None of us could survive such a life.
Wonderful pix, lovey, and greta to see you ALL enjoying some fun in the sun! More, please!

two squirrels said...

Oh Yay Curtise, you have happy sunshine, what a perfect day to wear that truly lovely dress!!!!!! The pattern on the skirt is wonderful, I wish I could wear a maxi as well as you do. Always gorgeous.
Oh it's so nice to see your mum, she looks so lovely. I can see were you get your good genes from.
I am fascinated to by the history of everyday life and how what we take for granted now has had such a interesting past. What a great place to visit.
Sending happy spring smiles.
Love V

Anonymous said...

Lovely spring dress - it's just so pretty. You look very pretty.
I don't care much for "normal" history either - kings & queens & wars just leave me cold. I love the history of ordinary people and thinking about what it would have been like to live then. Maybe even trying a few things out. I enjoyed your post a lot.

Miss Magpie said...

See I misread that as Richard Armitage and had a mini swoon! (I have just watched North and South again which might explain it.)
That frock is gorgeous by the way cracking find.

Krista said...

You have been up to a lot! I find industrial history and how it effects social change to be very interesting too. These are some fabulous photos and it is so good to see the sun shining on you! How you managed this dress for under a buck I'll never understand it is so flattering of that gorgeous bod of yours!!!! The kids all look like they are having fun, I'd be the one like your sister out on that boat:) Please tell littlest I adore her skirt, all my favorite colors and frills!

Your nails along with all your bracelets and rings look killer Curtise!

Mrs. D said...

Finally the weather is getting better and we can all wear our lovely dresses! That was a mighty find indeed!
Lovely photos of your day out, very interesting account of the history of that place- working in the mills must have been horrid!!!

Becky said...

Boggles the mind when you really imagine such a life and how things have changed. Looks like a fun family day. I can't believe you got that dress for so little. I have horrible luck on Ebay and pretty much hate it at this point.
Becky :)

Miss Simmonds Says said...

No sunshine but I'm enjoying yours. That dress was an absolute steal and it's bloody lovely. I adore the pattern and the fact that it's cotton and not polyester makes it even more special. I do love my social and cultural history so that would be a great day out for me too, as long as they had a gift shop. The green cardi is rather beautiful, I have a similar one to send you. I'll have a rummage and see what I can find. Jess - is it Jess, looks so beautiful wrapped round that tree. xxxx

thorne garnet said...

that cotton being unloaded in Liverpool probably came from around here, south Georgia. We have a cotton field in the city limits and a cotton gin 2 towns over. Geez, I should take some photos next fall when it's being harvested. Funny how the world is all connected.

Love the dress and your Mother is beautiful

Kylie said...

Little Miss N is looking gorgeous Curtise, won't be too long before she's raiding your wardrobe and writing her own blog!

Anonymous said...

Yay for Spring temps and cotton, and double yay for an absolutely beautiful dress ( I am in love with the pattern, especially on the bottom) for a screaming deal! (Seriously, how do you find them? ). It looks just lovely on you, Curtise, and the green cardi suits your coloring so well. What a perfect field trip too - educational yet fun. Btw, on first glance I DID think that was you in the black coat in the boat ; you and your sis must look a lot alike! Xoxo

Patti said...

Fabulous dress and such a bargain, hooray for you! I too love local history (ours only goes back about 120 years here, we're such babies). Your Mum is lovely.

silvergirl said...

what a cool thing to go tour and learn the history
as son2 always says...America's history is so lame. he was born to live abroad and probably will as soon as he graduates

Vintage Bird Girl said...

Well I'm sure you would know that I love this combo....polkadots with green highlights. What a gorgeous frock! Sometimes those Ebay bargains are just too good to refuse! Thanks for sharing some family shots too. We really lack any great heritage stuff here in Brisbane. I think that's something I would love about the U.K, as well as hanging out with my fave blogging buddies! Xx

Sheila said...

What a spectacular dress (and may I say? Nice rack!) - love the colours and the styling with the green cardi.

I like seeing pictures of things like the cotton mill - like you, those types of historical buildings really interest me.

Melanie said...

Yes, I love industrial heritage. It's fascinating. Mass production is still regarded as a requirement for countries to become developed. Oooh, I could write a book on this topic...

I love your cotton maxi. I'm glad you catch those low-flying gems. This is the perfect crisp spring dress, especially worn with all your jewels.

Your family photos are wonderful as well - everyone looks apple-cheeked and happy. I laughed at your kids imagining their fate as mill workers! What a relief to get some proper sunshine.

CityScape Skybaby said...

You got a great bargain with that dress Curtise, I would be wearing it lots and lots, the colour and pattern are lovely. And your day out looks really good fun, it's nice that your mum and sister could be there too, I can't believe your mum is eighty nine, she doesn't look it. I love days out at museums, I remember going to some industrial museum in Manchester when I was at school and having a great time, so I'm sure your kids had a great time too, though they probably weren't sitting at the back of the car sticking their fingers up at passing drivers which always seemed to be part of school trips, just the naughty kids though, not me of course. xx

Anonymous said...

The sun doesn't want to shine, but I had a great weekend despite all the rain, it's always nice to spend my Holydays with family and friends!
This post is great and I enjoy all your photos!The kids seem to have a good time and I'm sure that everyone felt lucky for not being born 200 years earlier, included me!Your green dress is spectacular and was a great bargain, I should visit more often, our Miss Simmonds too always finds beautiful vintage clothes and at good prices , I hope they are shipping everywhere!
Happy birthday to your mother, she looks great and I couldn't believe she's 89!
Your kids are adorable too!
Lots of love

Vix said...

What a fabulous dress, you look the picture of Spring. It's very odd how some eBay listings go for loads and others sneak under the radar. That frock was obviously destined to be yours.
That looks like a fab day out, I'm obsessed with our industrial heritage. The family snaps are fantastic, your Mum looks amazing for 89, the girls are adorable and I love the moody snap of Seldom Seen!

Trees said...

Yah! Sunshine! It was feeling rather autumnal today, but the sun is still shining. That dress is stunning & made for you. Perfect. Thanks for the wee peak into the history of your area. I alway kind of forget how old the UK is, NZ wasn't officially a country until the 1840s. Looks like you all had a fab day, the boats look fun.

Señora Allnut said...

fabulous dress, love the printed hem and the motives and colors!, and it fits you so nicely!, and also love that you've enjoying some sunny days!, so interesting outing (I like all that historic stuff too!)
besos & gardens

Anonymous said...

First--you look AMAZING in your new frock!!Gorgeous!!
Your Mum is adorable!! Such an interesting trip--I, too, am more interested in the social history and such of places.
Love the kitties in the garden photo's!! and your littlest is adorable!! Budding fashionista!!

Sun--what is that?? it's barely 50 degrees again and is going to rain.

mispapelicos said...

Such a lovely family, and what a lot of fun. You look amazing is that green bargaind dress, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Flora Cruft said...

You're a proper spring beauty on that proper spring day, with your lovely family, looks like it was a fun day out! And it must have been almost warm (gasp) for you to be able to wear that gorgeous dress with only a cardie!

Rachel said...

Perfect colour match of the cardi to your dress! And well done for the 99p catch - I hope you tell everyone that when they ask! I always do that with my second hand stuff.

Your family (sister and Mum included) all look so alike, too.

I am also a history buff, and once shouted through the ticket office microphone at Euston 'Single to Telford. T.E.L.F.O.R.D - it was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution'. Hee hee. My latest book is a £2 bookshop spesh on life in the Middle Ages.

Vintage Coconut said...

Your dress is so lovely. I can NEVER find deals like that on EBAY.CA Even if a item is priced at a $1 start price which is quite a rarity, the shipping is usually at least 7 or so dollars USUALLY more. The stuff I like..... is usually being watched by WOLVERINES AND as soon as I place a bid. (BAMMMMMM) they come out and bid it up. *lol*
The kids look like they were having a good time. Nice to meet your Mom and Sis. =) Love your spingy pictures.

Louise Mc said...

What a fabulous bargain of a dress, and what a fascinating day out. I love Matlock too, in the summer. Xx

Sarah Jane said...

It's lovely to see a picture of your mum and sister. Looks like a fab family day out. Those 18th century cottages are so typical of Yorkshire aren't they? They couldn't really be anywhere else. You just expect 3 scruffy old men to come whizzing by in a bathtub any minute!;)
I'm with you on the weather. Still a bit on the chilly side but we've enjoyed bright sunny days and clear skies this week so I'm not complaining xxxx

joyatri said...

What a lovely day out! There seems to be a common thread of vintage clothing lovers having an interest in social history. Years ago, I had friends who would go on holiday in Aruba or Cancun and I'd head to Stoke-on-Trent and Ironbridge Gorge for my vacations.
Amazing deal on that dress and it fits! I've not had much luck buying clothes that fit on eBay. I love the color combinations in the border of that dress with the orange, teal and raspberry. Very pretty necklace, too.

VAL said...

Green is my favorite colour, so this outfit is magpie material for me lol, very lovely and suits your colouring so well. Looks like the kids are having fun :)

bonsaimum said...

Lovely dress.You always look a million dollars. Your mum looks absolutely fantastic for her age.

Melanie said...

Hands down, my absolute favourite outfit of yours I have seen! It's just beautiful!

Miss Maple said...

Your green cardigan is looking so eminently cosy and perfect for a spring day for preparing against some chilly breezes. Here in Germany it's not at all spring. We hope that we can see blue skies and enjoy a bit warmer days next week. Have a fabulous weekend.

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

Oh I love that you too fill your kids' heads with historical experiences of child slavery ... so I I'm not the only one then? My little bleeders cop a jolly fine rant from me regularly and I made The Stylist watch a PBS doco on the The Triangle Shirtwaister Factory fire. I think my lot benefit from it - just think, as Seldom Seem certainly is contemplating very seriously in that pic, Sunday school on your day off. YAY!!! (Boo, hiss). I'm so happy you all had a lovely day out and your sister and darling mum came along too!! The factory is a place I would be desperate to explore too. And you must go back on your own to the chazzas!!! I do love a cotton maxi, actually it's the only kind I can wear in our climate, this beautiful green and white number is exceptionally gorgeous on you Curtise!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

Jean at said...

You've been busy!! I think it's critical to learn about history. Thank you for my little glimpse. Your mom looks amazing!! How wonderful that she's able to go on these forays with you and the children, and your sister too!

Unknown said...

Oh I lovey dovey DOVEY LOVE this beautiful maxi on you, my love. The colour, the, cut, the lovely long lean lines... it's your signature silhouette and so so beautiful.

The family snaps are gorgeous - Littlest is the bloody SPITS of you and what a lovely cheeky twinkle she has in her eye!

Your Mama is gorgeous too!

Love your genes! Sarah xxx