Shillings and Ginger Beer


I dare anyone who ever spent time reading British children's literature to look at this pattern and not want to spend the rest of the day reading E. Nesbit, Noel Streatfeild, or even C.S. Lewis. (Or Edward Eager, although he's not a Brit.) Preferably on the couch, under an afghan, while drinking cocoa. (Or ginger beer.)

(This could be Susan and Lucy — couldn't it? The youngest girl is always full of pluck, right? Pattern is from Tina at What I Found Vintage.) 

Feel free to reminisce about your favorite children's books in the comments … 


38 thoughts on “Shillings and Ginger Beer

  1. Enid Blyton books. My sister and I adored them. She liked the school series and I liked the mystery series. And Schweppes ginger beer.


  2. All the Shoes books and The Magic Summer by Noel Streatfeild! I still re-read it about once a year to refresh myself with quotes and poems by Great Aunt Dympha.


  3. Roald Dahl figured strongly in my childhood literature experience and the Quentin Blake illustrations, brilliant as they are, don’t really inspire much in the way of clothing reminiscence!

    Those dresses are really cute, though. I’m trying to imagine any of my small neices or god-daughters in them, however, and can’t quite cut it. Which is a shame.


  4. Edward Eager, the best! And this could be an illustration out of Elizabeth Enright’s “The Four-Story Mistake.” And E. Nesbit, too. I think this is a new Dressaday feature: patterns illustrating not the vignette, but the novel . . .


  5. I still love reading children’s books and am going to look for these. BTW, I read all the Georgette Heyer mysteries based on a comment you made, Erin. Please keep mentioning British authors !!


  6. I used to get a series of books sent over to me from England. They were written by a somewhat distant cousin, Elizabeth Beresford, and sent to me by her mother who was my godmother. They were like the Nancy Drew mysteries but of course they took place in England. I loved them. I kept them all but they got wet in a basement years ago and had to be thrown out. So sad as my daughter would have loved them too.


  7. Yes, the historical novels of Rosemary Sutcliffe and Geoffre Trease. Only, eating hot buttered toast spread thinly with Marmite.


  8. Eager, Lewis, even Streatfield, yes, but not Nesbit: Edith Nesbit’s children dressed like this children.

    1906 vs. 1946 is quite the jump! Nice pattern though.


  9. I liked the “Princess” girls’ school books by Katherine Oldmeadow. I don’t know where I got them from, they have long been out of print and Katherine Oldmeadow was never one of the best–known girls’ school authors.

    She was supposed to have belonged to a famous coven of witches back in the ’30s but I don’t remember any of that in her books.

    I do remember “Princess Anne” (no, not that one) as being my favorite. It belonged to the “Clueless” genre in which a popular girl befriends a shy outsider. What I remember most was that there were two levels of school costume, including hats and scarves — standard-quality materials e.g. a wool scarf, and more expensive versions (the scarves were silk) that your parents could shell out for if they had the money. Now there was a recipe for social tension if there ever was one.


  10. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit… one of the best children’s books ever. (Along with The Secret Garden, The Four-Story Mistake, and Understood Betsy.) I think I have to find this pattern to make for my twin girls to wear while they are still amenable to the dresses I choose. My older girls have far too many opinions these days.


  11. Monica Edwards! ‘The Summer of the Great Secret’ is the only book of hers I’ve ever read, but damn it’s good! Post-war rural life, girls in SHORTS all the time (gasp!).


  12. Let’s go look at the dollhouses in the Victoria and Albert.

    I’m always happy to meet another Streatfeild fan. Remember when Ginny tried to jazz up her mother’s old dress by sewing plastic flowers to it at wrists, waist, and hem?

    I also loved Swallows and Amazons. C. S. Lewis, not so much.


  13. Lately we’ve been reading ‘B is for Betsy’ by Carolyn Haywood (first published 1939) and the series. Following that we will be tackling ‘Betsy-Tacy and Tib.’ Yes, I have a duaghter named Betsy 😉 There are quite a few plucky little Betsys in books but sadly, I’ve never come across a book heroine named Joni…


  14. EB White! I read Charlotte’s Web three times. I also read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Rudyard Kipling and the Secret Garden and the Little Princess.


  15. My sister and I devoured the giant “girls’ books” my father used to bring us from London. They were full of short stories (can’t remember the authors, sorry) all about boarding school life and escapes, Mummy at home and distant Fathers. The characters lived for excursions in the village to buy sweets or go to the pictures, and for revenge against bullies and mean Heads. So much drama under such classic woollen plaids!


  16. The Ralph Moody series of “Leather Britches” stories – plucky kids in the American West during the Great Depression.
    Walter R. Brooks series of “Freddy the Pig” stories – plucky barnyard animals. I laughed so much the librarian had to shush me.
    Beverly Cleary series of “Ramona” books. Plucky and precocious.


  17. Noel Streatfeild! Good to know there are other of his fans over here. I read all the Streatfield books the library had. I just looked him (her?) up and my big city library has lots of his later books…including “Ballet Shoes” as a DVD!

    Love the dresses too…they do look so cute. My mom sewed them for my sister & I tried for my sons but the pattern didn’t fit itself (don’t you just hate that?)


  18. I spent my childhood making up clubs with my friends because of the Enid Blyton mistery books (by the way, I am Portuguese, they do get all the way here)


  19. No one has mentioned The Borrowers yet. I think that Arrietty wears a dress very much like those in the cover illustration of my copy.

    Look how cleverly the dresses are constructed to allow them to grow with the girls — the pleats and waist ties to cope with weight gain/curve development, the yokes that could be replaced with a larger size with the dress body re-pleated onto it, and the sleeve fullness that could be let out and reset into the larger armhole with larger wrist bands.

    Of course, they’d be made with very deep hems that could be let down as the girls grew taller. The wear marks would then be covered with matching braid.

    Note also that though the pleated dresses hang neatly, there is a lot of fullness in the skirt and body to allow active girls to move and play freely.

    Its so much more practical to be able to remake a child’s garment after a growth spurt than to have to buy new every few months.


  20. Because of technical difficulties I am late getting here to thank you for showing this sweet pattern. But I want you to know it found a new home and some lucky little girl will get to enjoy it.
    You made my day!


  21. Oh yes, lashings and lashings of ginger beer! Did anyone mention Arthur Ransome yet? Some of those girls were pretty feisty. And, yes, as the youngest of five I’m well placed to speak as a mini-sibling: you’re damned right we have pluck! It’s a simple survival mechanism. 😉


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