A day out

I have been at home a lot recently.  My work contract ended and we have been renovating madly.

But I snuck away for a haircut.  I went to Sterling Apothecary in Chippendale.  It’s really fabulous.  The decor is vintage barbershop – right down to the Bakelite power points – fantastic attention to detail.  While I was there some TV types were scoping it out to use it in an ad.

Tony Vacher cut my hair – as you can see, I’m pretty pleased with it!  He is amazing.  A very understated guy of huge talent.  He masterminded the decor of the place, and is a very experienced in “precision cutting”.

You know it’s a good haircut when you wake up the next day and boing! You run your fingers through it and you are good to go!

I am experimenting with letting a little of they grey come through, as I have been dying my hair since about 1987 and I am really over it!

Then on the way home I popped in to Spotlight, had time for a quick outfit photo in the Centre Loos! I wore my Forties Jeans

Just for a look – below are a few shots. I visited Gertie’s Fabrics, to see if any new ones had been added to the range. Didn’t find any and they were a little messy!

See that stack of infant prints?  I bought some of the diamonds.

I have been sewing some toiles, testing patterns – not ready to cut into it yet.  I will keep you posted!



The Fifties Red Car Coat

I have been thinking about this project for a year at least.

I have a few pieces of wool, coating bundled together and several of patterns in mind.

I need to decide whether I can be bothered to make a lined coat. Makes it easier to wear and warmer. I’m still deciding which lining fabric to use?

I really had hoped to whip up a car coat before the cold weather hits. This is really all you need in Sydney for Winter, if you have a car. There are really only a few really cold days which warrant a full length coat.

Every one complains about how freezing it is – for months, but they really don’t have a clue how to dress for truly cold weather. Not the way you learn when you live in a cold climate like NZ, or even Melbourne!

Tips for beginner sewers:

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making a coat. A short coat should be not too difficult as there is less fabric to handle. They are easier than tailored jackets as the fabrics are easier to work with was they are more spongy and forgiving and the lining at the hem is not caught in – easy!

Make sure you have your linings and interfacing together before you start sewing.

If you get tailored button holes done it will give your coat a more professional look








School Dance 80’s style

This is really embarrassing


This is the pattern mum made my 6th form School Dance Dress with, complete with the big bows on the shoulders and all.

It was a very 80’s shade of electric blue – which I don’t think I have worn since – polyester moire taffeta! Noice!!

I am not sure where the photos from that night are – must dig them out!

We are back from almost a month in New Zealand – I am calling it the best time ever! Great to catch up with many friends and family and we traveled every tip/op shop we could find.

Thanks Mum and Dad again for the amazing hospitality – we all loved it and thanks to my brother Gavin for making it from Scotland!!! to be there with us!

Lighthouses and old movies

I have been trying desperately to keep up with Sew Weekly challenges lately – and failing!

I have made a blouse for the Olympics Week – and a skirt which still needs a zip inserted for the “Yellow Week”. But I am overwhelmed by the thought of doing yet another solo photo shoot or using my mannequin, again!

Truth is, I am a little distracted by thoughts of the Fifties Fair – coming up on 26th August.

Here is a little peek at the fabric I am using:

What do you think? It’s a different colourway of Mena’s Lighthousey “Dark Nautical” Fabric! It was on Ebay and I negotiated the price down and ended up getting 5 metres for about $50 including postage – bargain right?!  I love its depiction of a New England Fishing Village.  Maybe one day I will travel there?

I love a black background, and a splash of red.

I am attempting a dress with a bolero.

Bodice under construction, Lighthouse on strap – Back view

I like to watch old movies while I sew – they keep me company. This week I watched “The Seven Year Itch” – which is really funny – if you havent seen it. Also appropriate to mark the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s passing. And “All About Eve” – a fascinating portrayal of selfish ambition!

I really have a lot of sewing to do – I will try to put some more progress shots on: Instagram under: quiet_vintage_sewing – I hope you don’t become as addicted to this ap as I have!!

The “I know it’s silly” Dress

My reality is that I don’t really have anywhere to wear a LBD, or a BBD in my case given that I am a size 16 and just under 5’10 (175cms).

The reality is that I have a tonne of washing to do every week.  My husband is a tiler – he gets absolutely filthy every day.  You can imagine, dust from cutting hundreds of tiles, glue, grout and building site filth come home with him.

We have two washing machines and two clothes lines.  Don’t forget the two boys.  My laundry mountain is only obliterated a couple of time a year!

So I was thinking about how silly it was that I was prancing about my courtyard taking these photos, with my clothesline in the background – mocking me with its “I’ll be seeing you later!”, while wearing my big black 50’s dress with it big petticoat underneath.

But you know what?  After weeks of fulfilling everyone else’s expectations of me – two weeks of running the kids around for the holidays, one day spent at the hospital after Noah had a terrific trampolining accident and put a tooth through his face (he’s all better, now thanks to the plastic surgeons), it felt good to do something for me.

This was a UFO – I think I started it first four years ago – it was my the first attempt using a 50’s pattern   I decided I would use some of the wool that had sat around since my student days – and that yes, it would be a great idea to use some for a toile!  Lookey, lookey – perfect fit – love that!

This has become my favourite dress pattern  and I have made a the skirt many times (omitting the front pleat).

The best thing about this dress IMHO is the “Bosum” piece, it is a Crescent shaped piece which is gathered and gives you a little “more” in that area if you are lacking!! The skirt also covers all my flaws. The little cap sleeves are kind to plump arms. I believe it is the perfect dress for pear shaped women!

To finish it I had to overlock all the seams, insert the zip, and bind the neckline and sleeves.  I did the binding in a Cotton Lycra Sateen – it’s not sitting quite flat – but I can live with it.

Thanks to my lovely friend and sewing buddy, Toni for help with the hem – we decided we should buy one of those chalk puffer hemming devices.

The 1950’s Whimsey I am wearing is a present from my friend Rozie, she bought it for me on my Birthday from Mint Condition for $25 – bit of a bargain. I love the little birds on the veil.
So now I have a black dress on standby for any occasion – not silly at all is it?

The Facts

Fabric: Wool from stash from a million years ago and some Cotton Lycra Sateen $14.95/m

Pattern: McCalls 9400

Year:  1950’s

Notions: Zip

Time to complete: It’s been years!

First worn: For the photos

Wear again: Can’t wait

Total Cost: I’m calling it nothing

The “Fools Rush In ” Two Seam Top

Now I am quite a goody good, I suppose you’d say.  I don’t like getting in trouble.  I follow the rules pretty much.  But when it comes to sewing I am quite the rebel.   Instruction sheets – pah – I know better, do the zip this way – no thanks.  If I can think of an easier way I’ll do that.  Recommended fabrics – I’ll be the judge.

But when Casey tried out this pattern and advised that it was meant for knit textures, I wish I listened.

Pink is not really my colour.  I like it for pyjamas, but it doesn’t suit me.  But when I found this lovely painterly 50’s-ish rose print, I thought – that will be just the ticket!

I am glad I only spent an hour sewing two seams – which sounds like slow going when you count them! But I wanted to finish them nicely – because it’s a sheer fabric.    Casey said turn and catch stitch.  I wonder if she has washed her one yet?  I was taught that hand sewing does not hold knit fabrics.   It just falls out – now that is a rule I am not willing to break!

This top is difficult to put on, pulls uncomfortably over my arms and falls down constantly, needing readjusting.  On me it is unflattering – too bulky at the front.  And I couldn’t drive a car in it – fail!

Still, I really like the concept and would love to make it up in a knit fabric, perhaps in a stripe – would be fun.

The pattern is intriguing as it uses really little fabric and does produce what is a cute little shrug – if you need such a thing to wear to your next summer wedding or formal event!

I recommend you take Casey’s advice – that girl knows her stuff.  And remember – hand sewing is not recommended!
The Facts
Fabric”  Thrifted Polyester Georgette $3.50
Pattern: Self Drafted based on Simplicity 4538
Year: 1950’s
Notions: just thread
Time to complete: 1 hour – a record!
First worn: April 2012 for the photos
Wear again? Nup!!

Source: google.com.au via Trish on Pinterest

Source: flickr.com via Trish on Pinterest

I found the back of the pattern envelope in Flickr here! And I coulden’t have done it without that – thanks!

The “Coathanger” Skirt


The Facts
Fabric: Seven vintage tablecloths from Op Shops – about $40
Pattern: Vogue 7924
Year: 1950 something
Notions: Zip, bias binding for the waistband
Time to complete: 8 hours
First worn: For the photos
Wear again: Yes – while the warm weather lasts and with toned down accessories and minus the petticoats.
Total price: Under $50

Gidday!  I finally got myself out of the ‘burbs and down to the water for some photos for the The Sew Weekly City challenge.  The Sydney Harbour Bridge is colloquially known as The Coathanger and she turned 80 recently.  She is a stunner!

I moved to Sydney on New Years Eve of 1992.  I had just finished studying Fashion Design and I was going to have to leave my home town Wellington, New Zealand for work.  I had friends in Sydney so I came to stay with them.  I planned to stay a while and save for a trip to London.

That means I have been here for 20 years this year!  I did make it to London for a wedding back in 1997, but I love it here!

This skirt is my ode to Sydney.  Sydney is huge, brash, outspoken and good-looking (hopefully so is this skirt!) and so are its people.  It can also be lonely, rude and expensive, congested and HOT!

I met my husband here, (he’s of Italian and Maltese background so he’s very special).  I have two Australian children.  It’s home now and the sickness is not bad after all that time (I miss my parents in NZ).

I have lived all over the place – so you know what that means – I know all the good op shops!  This is where I found the fabric for my skirt.  Collected over several years, but most of it pretty recently.  The roses on the grey background – is one of my favourites in the skirt and just came home a week ago!

A considerable amount of time was spent cutting and arranging the patchwork, much like making a patchwork quilt.  Not to mention the pieces that had to be unpicked and moved.

I have made this skirt before and it is the style of skirt my mum alway said suited me best.  The yoke is more flattering than gathers from the waist on my pear shape.  Thanks Mum!

If I tire of this skirt – it may be upcycled to become the mother of all table runners!

I felt more than a little bit silly wearing this ridicoulous outfit down by the water.  I thought that it wouldent be that busy down at Kirribilli on a gorgeous public holiday.  So I just had to suck it up and get it done, as I had dragged the whole family down there just for my photos!  One thing about Sydney is that people dress pretty casual most of the time!  I had skyscraper heels, two petticoats under the skirt and a massive flower in my hair.  The worst moment was when a boatload of tourists turned up!

Wishing the ground would swallow me up as the Ferry full of tourists cruises past!

The tablecloth skirt – I loved this baby from Anthropologie and started adding to my collection of vintage tablecloths soon after seeing it.

Source: anthropologie.com via Trish on Pinterest

Sydney is a great place to live – and a wonderful place to visit – if you lob in and if you need a tour guide – give me a hoy, I will take you on a tiki tour!