The Eighties Called. They Want Their Clothes Back.

liberty sewing book

I bought this book for £1.50 from a shop on the Isle of Wight. What’s not to love? Liberty! Sewing patterns included! The Eighties! Not just a piece of history. There’s some pretty detailed information in this book, plus basic pattern blocks can always be adapted. I’m hopeful there’s something here I could sew.

Always check the line drawings…

sewing pattern line drawing

But, oh these Eighties moments, frozen between the pages. Flipping through this book, I am swept back to an era when Princess Di pie crust collars were de rigeur, flounces ruled and Laura Ashley was a lifestyle goal.

Would you join me on a stroll down memory lane?

classic eighties fashion

eighties holiday fashion

One day, we’ll look back at our jumpsuits, Cos dresses and dungarees in sloth, flamingo and palm leaf prints and roll our eyes. In the meantime, I’m happy to laugh fondly at the Eighties.

It wasn’t all car crash TV. I also bought a rather lovely pink tweed blazer.

Do you ever find anything interesting when you go on holiday?

gone on holiday

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33 Responses to The Eighties Called. They Want Their Clothes Back.

  1. Hahaha! Used to LOVE Laura Ashley. My wedding dress was a Gunny Sax. Boy my tastes have sure changed over the years!!

    • didyoumakethat says:

      I’d never heard of Gunny (Gunne?) Sax!

      • Melody Srygley says:

        Gunne Sax was a US brand of Little House on the Prairie/Laura Ashley/ish clothing. The characterJacquie (sp?) on The 70s Show often wore them. We sold them at a shop I worked at in college, and I could never afford to buy, even with an employee discount. So so sad. Sad emoji sad. I laugh now, but…

  2. Pdxspiceweasel says:

    I’m pretty sure I saw a young man wearing those shorts last week here in Portland. I had to do a double-take.

    • Nah, he was in Austin. 🙂

      • Pdxspiceweasel says:

        I was in a cafe last week and the entire modern version of the Breakfast Club was there, with their smartphones. I desperately wanted to take a photo, because it was uncannily mid-1980’s, but I couldn’t do so without looking a creeper.

  3. Morgana says:

    The “gathered together” smock in the first photo has potential.

    As always, books are never a waste!

  4. Trudy New says:

    Have a look at the Cabbages & Roses website and see all the pie-crust ruffles around the necklines and waistlines of their beautiful clothes. Too expensive for me but I’m going to take your lead and scour the charity shops for an eighties sewing book. Lady Diana collars are coming back!

  5. Miriana says:

    Oh my lord; my childhood was spent in those Laura Ashley Victoriana dresses. No wonder I’m not that keen on ditsy florals as an adult. Oh and that geometric printed dresss is also causing flashbacks

  6. Anne says:

    I remember that book! It was expensive and I decided I couldn’t afford it… I kept going into the bookshop to stroke it…
    Oh dear, looking at the pictures now! Eek!
    Mind you, I do have some 1980s Laura Ashley geometric print fabric in my stash from that time, which I really should use as it is still perfectly lovely.

  7. Diane Hudson says:

    I bought that book when it was on sale in the Manchester branch of Liberty, sadly no Ionger there. Gave it away years later only to buy it back again a couple of years ago! Don’t know if I’ll make anything from it but it’s fun to look at.

  8. Bracken says:

    Well I was a teen / 20 something in the 80s and I can confidently say I never wore anything like this.Sad everyone can only remember this frilly stuff and forget the winkle picker shoes and the lovely punk/goth fashions many of us wore. I lived in leggings and big Tshirts and docs. More like the stuff young peple wear on the streets now. I am sure this book will be very useful but it really is not anythging like the 80s I knew. Maybe what my mum and grandma wore!

    • Anne says:

      Ha, ha… You’re right! It wasn’t all florals and flounces. I don’t think I’d ever have liked/worn that super flouncy smock in the pics either, it is particularly over the top! But I did have a similar dropped waist dress and, to be honest, I still like that style. What I loved about the book was the spiral binding and patterns and sewing aesthetic… it was a rarity back then. We are spoiled for choice with sewing books now.

      • didyoumakethat says:

        I agree this was not the only 80s look by a long stretch, and I think people do remember the alternatives!

  9. Caroline Joynson says:

    Lots to get inspired by in this book, veering between amazing and crazy! I remember the Memphis inspired geometric 80’s prints and wearing cropped leggings with reaaallly baggy t-shirts over them and jelly shoes and odd coloured neon socks….. am I over-sharing my terrible teenage 80’s fashion here?

  10. Melody Srygley says:

    I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat when I saw the (so 80s) book cover. Lololol…

  11. Wendy T says:

    It’s easy to laugh at the 80’s fashions, with the wide shoulder pads and voluminous skirts but I did love Laura Ashley and some of the sleeker Gunne Sax fashions! Since Gunne Sax was HQ’ed in my hometown, I shopped at the factory store a lot. I wish I kept my Laura Ashley dresses, sewn with Laura Ashley fabrics, and the Gunne Sax dresses, too. I wouldn’t wear them again, but I could take them apart an de reuse the fabrics.

    • NancyJ says:

      I still have all my Gunne Sax patterns! But, alas, all the dresses I made from them have long since been given away. I used to shop at the Gunne Sax outlet up a flight of stairs near downtown San Francisco when I’d go there to visit my sister.

  12. Heather says:

    I had that book it was SO expensive but I had just got a job in London and even as a museum assistant I could afford Liberty fabric in the sale. I made and wore those shorts and the bandeau top, and also the dress which inconceivably I often wore to work. I thought I was the bees knees and in hindsight I was!

  13. During the 80s [my childbirth years lol] I mostly sewed for other people, for pin money. I remember the clothes all being square and voluminous with HUGE multilayered shoulder pads. Personally I had NO money so wore the few things I had to death and beyond, mostly camo trousers with high heeled red ankle wellies [a gift], punkish mini skirts and wild tights with some very cheap baseball boots. I aspired to docs but didn’t get any until I was nearly 50.
    I see those Laura Ashley florals as the kind of thing I wanted during the mid-to-late 70s [bless me, I was young]…
    Hideous stuff, although I did make my sister an outfit from a Gunne Saxe pattern, all in black with black eyelet inserts and ribbon trim. Pretty cool actually, quite goth in the end. I still have the pattern.

  14. Anne Frances says:

    What a find! But do look past the styles to the methods. Ann Ladbury was something of a sewing guru then, but very good and clear on technique. Her methods weren’t necessarily the fastest, but they always produced high quality results. I’d be interested to hear your modern take on them, as the author of a sewing book for today. I learnt a great deal from her.

  15. We are all watching. What are you gonna make? I went to Young farmers so Laura Ashley was definitely a lifestyle choice. Jo x

  16. I like to tell young people that the 80s were AMAZING–just look at our hair. We (literally) rocked it!

  17. joan says:

    My late aunt, who was one of the Fords Dagenham seamstresses who famously struck for equal pay (every so often there will be archive footage of the picket line on the telly and I will see my Auntie Eileen) taught me the basics of sewing when I was a ten year old in 1973. But it was Ann Ladbury via her books and TV shows who really taught me all the key skills – tailors tacks being one of them. There is a clip of her TV programme here

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Wow, what an amazing story – thank you!

      • Anne says:

        Oh, that clip was so interesting! What a shame it was only a minute. Fun to see the intro, compared to what we are used to with GBSB. I’d love to see a whole episode (or even the whole series!)

  18. Oh how I remember as a teen going into Fyfes, which was the fabric shop in my hometown (one of them) and OH MY all the glorious florals and botanicals, I still love them. I made so many flowing dresses with layers in the skirts. Border prints, gypsy prints, flowing sleeves I loved them. Then the tailored look came in with binkies and seagulls, and I was into that.
    What I loved was that you could buy fabric to make things that were in fashion in the wider world but not the clothes RTW. So if you could sew, you were more fashionable. The joys of living in a tiny country like NZ. I remember a lot of this from the late 70s, though. By the early 80s I was wearing my Dad’s old suit jackets with bright coloured baggy trousers with black polka dots and boob tubes. Chopsticks twisted into crimped hair. SO many looks available.

  19. I have to admit very quietly that my wedding dress was from Laura Ashley, frills, pintucks the lot!

  20. sewsew2015 says:

    1980s = Laura Ashley = smocks: I was pregnant with my daughter in 1980 and my son in 1982 so I lived in smocks for much of that time. Consequently, I am no longer a fan of smocks or ditsy florals!.

  21. SFord says:

    My (late) 80’s outfits were stonewashed jeans, batwing jumpers and basketball boots, also remembering to ‘double denim’ with a denim jacket!!

  22. Janet says:

    I made a pleated skirt in the dress fabric shown in the second picture – as I remember, it was a Collier Campbell design for Liberty fabrics. I still have the skirt, unworn for many years, and it now resides in the bottom drawer of a chest in the bedroom. I used to make quite a lot of my own clothes in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, including my wedding dress in 1980 ( a Vogue pattern by Belville Sassoon, and I still have the pattern. I remember Anne Ladbury’s sewing programmes, she was very good on technique.

  23. Jules says:

    I still have this book in great, like new condition! I doubt I ever made anything from it. ha! Typical and by then the children were coming and I was sewing more for them. Maybe in another 10 yrs someone will like these styles and we will gasp!!

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