Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Sewing The Seventies: 1970


Today I embark on my voyage through the seventies. Each day over the next ten I will be writing a 1970s-themed post, each one based on a year in the decade, starting with 1970 today. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the food, music, TV and current affairs and anything else that grabs my attention while I experience my time slip back nearly four decades. And of course, I will be wearing items from my 1970s wardrobe.

So, 1970. I have one serious problem with 1970 and that is that I don’t have any legal tender. In 1970 the currency in the UK was pounds, shillings and pence. My work-around was that I wouldn’t spend any money in the shops today. This was fine in principle being a work day and the only thing I usually buy is some lunch. In the 1970s it just wasn’t possible to pop into the supermarket for some sandwiches anyway, so unless you were planning to eat in a tea shop or pub, you would take a packed lunch to work.

Old Money

However, over the weekend I developed toothache and ended up having an emergency dental appointment this morning. So, I had to go modern and pay for that, with a debit card! Unfortunately, the wisdom tooth problem isn’t fixed (at least not yet), which isn’t great and I’m trying to feel enthusiastic against slightly masked tooth pain. Anyway, I’m going to do my best with how things are. By the way, my appointment cost £20.60 (or £20 12s)

A simple Purchasing Power Calculator would say the relative value is £1   9s   0d. This answer is obtained by multiplying £20 12s   0d by the percentage increase in the RPI from 2016 to 1970. [1]

To be honest that’s a pointless calculation given that going to the dentists was actually completely free in 1970!

I’ve now made my packed lunch. I’m going to make something fairly boring that I know will fit in the time period; a cheese sandwich, a packet of crisps (Walkers), two small satsumas and two Club biscuits. The crisps and biscuits are both brands that were available in the 1970s and are still around today. What a dull looking lunch by today’s standards! I’m going to try to come up with something more exciting for my next work day on Monday.

1970 Packed Lunch

Packed Lunch

And here’s what those branded products would have looked like in 1970:

Walkers Crisps and Club Biscuits

Club Biscuits and Walkers Crips Packaging from the 1970s

I haven’t got an extensive seventies-style wardrobe yet, but I think it is only fair to start by wearing the items that come from the earliest patterns in my collection. This is my newly finished pinafore dress:

Burda Dusty Dress

The dress is a Burda pattern from 1970, so I’m wearing the latest fashion here! I’ve just paired it with a plain camel-coloured long-sleeved t-shirt and boots. The t-shirt is a shop-bought item from my wardrobe, but it is very plain and hopefully therefore in keeping with the era. I’ll write a separate post about the dress soon.

Obviously, at work I’m going to be doing my normal stuff, which involves time spent on the computer. I do attend meetings and use the telephone too. I work mostly with databases and at the beginning of the 1970s the types of databases I am using would generally have been hand-written on index cards. My job is therefore quite different from its equivalent in the past. I’m sure 1970s me would have been rifling through filing cabinets and moving piles of paper around!

I’ve finished work and I’m really hungry. The pack lunch didn’t really sustain me for the whole day and worse I have no currency to spend in the shops. I can’t wait for this evening’s meal, which Mr Steely is cooking.

This evening’s entertainment is going to be some reading. I had a look in a charity shop a few weeks ago and found a stack of books from the 1970s. I was particularly looking for a book published during the era and also set in the decade. Anyway, I picked out Voices in an Empty House by Joan Aitkin. It’s a story about a search, against time, for a boy who has been kidnapped. I’ll let you know how I get on.


Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

10 thoughts on “Sewing The Seventies: 1970

  1. I’ve been on a 70s-80s kick myself lately. It was a little naff at the time, but compared to now, it is high culture!

    • Do you think that’s nostalgia or was there something special about this era? Anyway, I’m just enjoying my retro week at the moment.

      • I think for me it is partway nostalgia and partway that I think the world and culture etc. has gotten really much worse than it used to be. It isn’t like the music now is ‘great but just not to my taste’, but that much of it has no actual melody and is just someone’s opinions being promoted belligerently, often over a background of music stolen from other people. Yawn. I loved disco and what became classic rock and prog rock and all kinds of stuff that happened then, and I was of an age that it informed me–I was in grammar school and high school in the 70s, so all that music etc. meant a lot to me growing up. There was also the fact that it was before AIDS happened, so the freedoms were there for those old enough to party a lot, and that perspective influenced a lot of the culture. Plus no cell phones, so privacy was actually private in most cases. One of the Studio 54 guys said that could never happen now, since everyone would film everyone’s private actions.

      • Think you’re spot on about the freedoms that there were then. Shame I can’t ditch the computer and the mobile phone this week, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to blog and wouldn’t be able to do my job. Which reminds me that I need to scour our music collection for some seventies music….

  2. Fabulous! I love that you sourced your lunch straight from the seventies. And I was amazed at how cheap your modern dentist’s visit was (paying for the dentist is often the most painful part of the process) so I was blown away to learn it was free in the seventies. Why did that have to change? I can’t understand why we can get free medical appointments here in Australia, but we have to pay a fortune for the dentist. Isn’t that medical, too?

    Anyway, that rant aside…

    I feel like I need to watch some classic seventies TV this weekend. There were so many fabulous comedies on TV then!

    • There is an ever creeping privatisation in this country, but generally all things medical even dentists and opticians were free until the 1980s / 90s. I discovered a great video / DVD rental place in the centre (yes, one of the few that exist these days), but they specialise in old / foreign language films. I’ve picked some stuff from their catalogue and shall pick them up later. Can’t wait.

  3. I’m going through all your 70s posts – I haven’t been checking in much lately. They’re really interesting. What a fun experiment!
    I have a fruit loaf in the oven- recipe from about 1970. Not as much sugar as modern recipes and not as much dried fruit. I increase the fruit but not the sugar

    • I still use a 1950s book for cake-making – all the cakes turn out delicious. I think tastes today are a little on the sweet side, especially shop-bought cakes. I’ve had a fun time this week so far, but it has meant ditching sewing for writing!

  4. Pingback: Sewing The Seventies: 1970 in Italy | Steely Seamstress

  5. Pingback: Seventies Fashion: The Mafia Only Kills in Summer TV series Episodes 1 &2 | Steely Seamstress

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