Hazel Morris – January 2013

PictureHazel’s design catalogues and fabric samples

We were given a very entertaining and informative talk to start our New Year programme by guild member Hazel Morris entitled “Beginning  in Manchester”. 

She started by telling us of her family’s move to Manchester and her teacher’s encouragement to apply for a place at a Trade School to study dressmaking and tailoring. There were 500 applicants for the two year course with only 36 places and she was one of the lucky ones.  She was taught the importance of doing a job properly and working up to speed in a professional manner.   She was asked if she used a machine to make buttonholes and laughed saying it was much quicker by hand and as an apprentice one was only considered proficient when you had successfully completed 100 button holes.

PictureCoats, suits and dresses made by Hazel

On completion of her course Hazel was taken on by dress  designer Edna Glyn as an apprentice where she enjoyed a varied career in  dressmaking, cutting, measuring and fitting. She even modelled garments at fashion shows being the same dress size as the regular model and there were  several pictures of her modelling Edna Glyn’s designs in The Guardian.  She explained that most of their fabrics  came from a French company called Ravine which unfortunately is no long in  existence.  Each customer had their measurements taken and individual pattern blocks made and Hazel explained that she had always used  patterns without seam allowances and could never use a commercially produced paper pattern.

PictureDress made from silk with a gold thread

When her employer retired, Hazel set up her own business  continuing to make garments for favoured clients. We were all delighted that she brought along a collection of her work which included day and evening  dresses, coats, suits and even a three piece suit with fourteen pockets that  she had made for her husband.    How many people can say  that nowadays!





After the talk we were all reminded about the SW Regional Festival Day which we will be hosting on Saturday 18 May in Marlborough.  Yvonne Miles asked for as many members as possible to volunteer to help with the preparations and on the day.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 4 February when the speaker will talk about the Merchant’s House – “Mrs Bayly’s Costume”.

Ros Lomas

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