Embroidered waist band on a sundress and ‘Mrs America’ on television

Appliquéd and embroidered waistband on a cotton sundress (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Although life is very calm and sweetly paced with no real responsibilities to distract me, days go  by far too quickly and in spite of always having a needle (or two) in hand, only things not on my ever lengthening list get done. Last week I made 10  drawstring bags with appliqué names for daughters 1, 2 & 3, as two of them said how useful they were for packing –  things like balls of wool, knickers, hair combs, adapters, cables, chargers, etc. and, as it seemed unfair to just make bags for 2 of them, I threw in a couple for the third daughter as well.  It’s always feels good to use odd fabric pieces to make something useful and I find I get as much enjoyment from making things like this as I do from more complex or ornate projects. I must, however, have mentally pigeon holed the finished bags as utilitarian for I handed them over without a thought of taking photographs. In the midst of bag making, a dress from daughter No 2 arrived in the post with the request to make the waist band more interesting. Fortunately an idea for this came quickly and as appliqué provides colour more effectively when time is limited  than embroidery alone, this didn’t take too long. I did take the time to photograph the dress, although as I was about to push it into an envelope for posting I didn’t waste time ironing it first.

Detail of appliquéd and embroidered waistband on a cotton sundress (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Appliquéd and embroidered waistband on a cotton sundress (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Daughters 2 & 3 came from London to see us on Saturday, just for the day and we spent what turned out to be a sunny and hot  afternoon having lunch outside, chatting the hours away and enjoying going through a file of their brother’s school work which my husband had come across  in one of his filing cabinet drawers. We were very impressed by the boy’s neat hand writing and his animal pictures which seemed to decorate everything he wrote, whether relevant or not – but this was a child who early in life had declared he was going to be a herpetologist (one who studies amphibians and reptiles), though he actually became an engineer instead. Somewhere I have files like this for each of the children, though typically I could only lay my hands on the one belonging to one of the children not actually in front of me.

Appliquéd and embroidered waistband on a cotton sundress (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

In general I’ve become a bit fed up of what’s available on iPlayer, though I enjoyed Mrs America so much that I watched it all the way through twice and in doing so, learned almost more about the Feminist Movement in America than I knew before. The story of their failed attempt to get all states to ratify the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution is thought provoking, though to be fair, more complicated than a TV show can truly handle. Acting  (Cate Blanchett is superb) and script sparkle, though it felt more like the 50s than the 70s – but perhaps that was just that the conservative women felt like more like 50s housewives than women of the 1970s. For me the 70s means lots of velvet clothing – winter or summer,  and if you lived in Oxford at the time that meant at least one Annabelinda* outfit. (After a champagne breakfast on the island where the Cherwell joins the Isis, I once fell out of a punt wearing an Annabelinda velvet and Liberty print pinafore and as I felt the water soak up through the velvet dragging me down I did think it was quite a pleasant experience. Fortunately, we were home alongside the steps by our Folly Bridge house and the water was no more than a foot deep! It was not so pleasant washing the silty mud out of the velvet but I must say the dress washed well and was worn many more times after.) The soundtrack accompanying the TV series, awakening memories of songs long forgotten, was an additional enjoyment.

*Just to get clear the Annabelinda relationship with Howard Marks (a Balliol man), once the world’s most wanted drug smuggler, I quote the Oxford Mail of 21 January 1998, “To provide himself with a respectable front for his new-found affluence derived from the drugs trade, he “adopted” Belinda O’Hanlon and Anna Woodhead, who were running a sewing partnership specialising in ball gowns for rich Oxford students. He advised the two women to move from their workshop in Park End Street and set up the business in Gloucester Green. That was the front he needed, and while the dress-making firm thrived, the two women were totally unaware of the drug-smuggling business Marks was running from an office upstairs.” (Not all clothes on sale were ball gowns; not all Oxford students were rich!)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted July 17, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    That’s a delightful addition to the dress!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Rachel.

  2. ceci
    Posted July 18, 2020 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    What a complement to the dress! I think there should be a series about AnnaBelinda, I can imagine stunning visuals and some hapless soul falling out of a punt in a lovely dress, perhaps during the closing credits. I’d watch it! Assuming I ever watch TV again, anyway, that level of sitting and paying attention seems to be beyond me at the moment.

    We have the same aggravating behavior of files here.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      I have always found that most clothes made of natural fibres can be washed if you’re careful and gentle, in spite of their labels saying otherwise. Annabelinda closed their doors in 2010 after 40 years and for many people those first 10 years were synonymous with a trendy and stylish look with great attention to detail – velvet and silk panels, lots of buttons, fabric button loops, generous collars and embroidery. Anna of the name left early on but Belinda O’Hanlon was in charge until the end – I’m surprised she hasn’t written a book, she must have wonderful stories.

  3. Amara Bray
    Posted July 20, 2020 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    Funny thing with the Mrs. America. I grew up very religious, and I remember as a child how the ERA felt like a bad thing “fighting family values”. I sure don’t feel that way now! It helps me understand where that crazy lady was coming from. I feel like we are going through similar growing pains as a country now, trying to fix the embedded racism that has become a part of so many of our systems.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 20, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      It’s interesting to hear you say this. I felt Mrs America presented both sides with some sympathy. Melanie Phillips, a British journalist on The Times newspaper puts it well when she says, “Schlafly’s arguably dubious attitudes or affiliations can’t detract from the fact that she galvanised into a political force a hitherto silent and disenfranchised constituency – in her case, the apolitical, apple pie-baking housewives of Middle America.” Phillips felt the conclusion was that the show made you realise you can’t divide people and issues along simple lines with good on one side and bad on the other; sometimes those with the loftiest of motives do unworthy things to achieve their aims and sometimes people we might disagree with or not even like make us think that bit harder about what we value in life. As you say, Amara, we all find ourselves experiencing growing pains as we rethink issues raised by race and the Black Lives Matter Movement.

      • Amara Bray
        Posted July 21, 2020 at 4:28 am | Permalink

        I haven’t watched it yet, just read about Shlafley. I am glad to hear they created a bit of entertainment that helps us to see two sides. We do all need more understanding. Now I really need to watch it!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted July 23, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

          Do watch it – I’d be interested to know what a different generation thinks about it – especially as this is about the US where you live.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S
    « Jun   Aug »
  • Photographs & Media

    Please attribute any re-uploaded images to Addison Embroidery at the Vicarage or Mary Addison and link back to this website. And please do not hot-link images!