Sunday, November 18, 2012

Call the Midwife: 50s Inspiration

Kristine got me hooked on Call the Midwife last week when I had a long weekend and total control of the television.  Have you been watching??

Set in the late 1950s, the story follows Jenny, a young nurse who takes a position as a midwife in very poor East End London.  Jenny discovers on arrival that she will be living and working with the nuns at Nonnatus House.

The fashions and hair are very period accurate, so it was pretty much love at first sight.  Then the storyline sucked me right in annnnddd... it's all over.  I'm hooked.   

street fashions

I love Jenny's sweet style.  They all spend most of their time in uniform, but you get glimpses of everyday fashions from their patients and the people on the street, and when the girls are "off duty".  Jenny is a cardigan and swishy skirt kind of girl.

Isn't she adorable?  Her hair is so cute too.  I'm very tempted by this hair.  And her wardrobe. When Jenny arrives to Nonnatus House in the first episode, she's wearing this beautiful suit:

I am now very nearly obsessed with finding a vintage pattern to duplicate it. I read a blog that speculated the suit was from the 40s, not the 50s, but I disagree.  I think it is very period appropriate.  The nipped in jacket, with shortened sleeves, and the tiny bow accents all speak 50s to me. Check out the suit in the illustration below, which is from a Progressive Farmer catalog, 1957:

And this sweet tailored suit from 1953 is very similar. I'm feeling knockoff inspiration!

My love for Jenny has very nearly been eclipsed by her friend and fellow midwife Trixie.

Trixie is sassy and fun and a big old flirt.  She's also gorgeous and has more of a "bombshell" vibe than our sweet Jenny.  She drinks and smokes and wears pants (occasionally) and strips down to her skivvies and jumps in the pool! With boys!

The awesomesauce that is Trixie is best told in full animation: 

Then there's Chummy, the very tall, very awkward, very amazing latecomer to their small group.  Who pretty much steals the show.

Chummy sews!!

(I don't remember that part.  Kristine??)

I don't even have space left in this post to tell you about the nuns, who have their own special quirks and adorableness.

Or the tiny midwife, whose name I can never remember (sorry, tiny midwife).

The only quibble I have with the show has to do with the American PBS broadcast, which has been editing out 7 minutes of each episode.  SEVEN MINUTES.  Ugh. I was hoping my Amazon On Demand episodes would be the full British broadcast, the way my Downton Abbey eps are, but nope. 

Are you watching???


  1. I am going to check this out! Especially because I love nuns in habits. Not only is that Butterick pattern a good suit match, the jacket looks super versatile like you could wear it over dresses if you chose a versatile fabric!

  2. I watched all the first season and read the first book. The other books are on my list for Christmas. I LOVED the series. Chummy is my favorite. I seem to remember she sewed her uniform because the largest size they had was too small for her. There was even a cute scene where she was using a newspaper to cut out a pattern and she cut off the head of one of the royal princesses out of the newspaper. I can't wait until they come out with a second season.

    1. Oh. I forgot to include. The suit from Jenny's first scene has the most amazing side seam pleats in the hem. They had little flat bows at the top. You can see them when she is carrying her suitcase and walking towards Nonatus (sp?) house. I don't know how to do a screen grab, but you can see them really well at 4:11 in the first episode.

  3. I love this show. I watch it on the PBS website. I didn't know it was based on a book?

    1. Ada, I'm hoping we get the Christmas special episode that's coming next month (and don't have to wait!) I know with Downton, I think we had to wait though. :(

      I read that it was based on a book after I started watching last week, but I think I'm not going to read them until it's all over. I don't want to spoil myself in case they really follow the books closely.

  4. I watched and loved it when it aired in the UK earlier. Had a hanky out on more than one occasion! Forgot that it was based on books... meant to look for them. Thanks for the reminder :)

  5. Anonymous3:14 PM

    Ok, so I will totally be hibernating and watching these episodes after Thanksgiving. They are streaming free on until Dec 3rd it appears. I need some sort of PBS update feed so I can see what the good new shows are (or I can keep counting on the vintage loving sewing community to let me know!)

  6. You are such an enabler... I'm now on episode 2 - watching it on the pbs website.....Love that Butterick pattern - what's the size range on it?

  7. I saw one episode by mistake. The one where Chummy learns to ride a bike. It was good. If I could find it again - or maybe it's on netflix already? - I'll watch it while I'm sewing. I don't think the hubby would tolerate it. g

  8. My husband and I discovered this show a few weeks ago, and we love it. Such great story lines.

  9. 7 MINUTES?! Yikes! Do you know if the PBS website is airing the edited versions, as well? Damn.


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