Fifties Fair 2014 – What we wore (Or “Two Ladies for Tea”)

Hello!  I’ve been busy, a new job, a traveling husband, lots of appointments for my son, so here’s some photos of my sewing buddy Toni and I at the fabulous Fifties Fair at Rose Seidler House in Wahroonga, Sydney from August.

Full Length Shot Fifties Style Dress

We were super excited but fashionably late arriving around midday after the epic wrangling of hair and false eyelashes. Just as we had taken these first photos – down came the rain. Darn it. And whoops, our slips are showing.
Head and Shoulders Fifties Style Hair and Dress

Still it didn’t last long and we were at last in. Excited face.

Back View Fifties Style Dress at Fifties Fair

This is a few hours later and I feel like Lurch, trying to get up that hill in those heels, (that I had so carefully hand dyed). I was exhausted by about three pm – the terrain at the site is precarious in flats, lots of sloping driveway , the bush garden section steps, and crazy paving.

Full Length Fifties Style Dress with Vintage Car

Toni is still looking fresh on the way back to the car. I loved her colour combo of Tangerine and Teal – quite unexpected and exciting. She made her hat copying one in my collection! She also made her dress in genuine vintage rose print fabric. Check out all those tiny pleats around the neckline and sleeve hem – wow!

Full Length Fifties Style Dress with Vintage Car

But by now I am over it. My feet are killing me, the hair has flopped and I wish I had a flying car. Still, it was a fun. More photos to come…

The details.

Pattern Used: Um, I have to dig it up – it was a Princes Seamed Sixties Dress with very puffy sleeve heads. The skirt was just pleated – no pattern required
Fabric: My favorite Cotton Lycra Sateen* in a Border Print from Lincraft (this fabric was also used by Laura Ashley – for a dress sold out very quickly)
Necklace: Vintage Pink Multi- strand Pink Faux Pearls from Vinnies about 15 years ago
Shoes: Target Suede Wedges (ow!) – Plus Suede Dye
Handbag: Vintage Brown Beaded purse – Salvos $25
Belt: Self-fabric with a vintage celluloid buckle from my stash
Hat: Amazing Floral Confection from Salvos $25
Watch: Gold Marcasite Vintage Costume Watch – a present from my parents when I was a child

*I cant say enough good about sewing with this fabric. It handles so beautifully when you are sewing. It has great body and drape and looks fantastic made up! I have just sewn a dress in a quilting cotton – such hard work to make it look good.


The “Polka Dots and Cocktails” Dress

Bakelite Buckle www.quietvintagesewing.wordpress.comWe got invited out – which is kind of rare!   To a 40th! In Newcastle!  As soon as we got the invite this fabric sprang to mind and I unearthed the bakelite buckle, which is a perfect match.

Multistrand vintage necklace,

Accessories selection – decided just to go with the earrings.

So, the fabric – First it’s polka dots – so what’s not to love?  And second – the tag said it was poly/cotton – I doubt that!  It might be polyester and viscose – as the dots are quite lustrous, perfect for evening wear.

The pattern is B5748 – I wanted to use it again and see if I could improve the fit (of the “All Singing, All Dancing” Dress)  and the low back is perfect for a summer occasion.  I achieved a better fit than the first time but the waist is too tight!  Whoops!

Lucite Handbag, Polkadot Cocktail Dress.

All set!  Here’s the Bathroom selfie.  Nearly took the Lucite handbag for its first outing – but I got scared and left it at home!

I knew it would be a warm evening so I put in a cotton voile lining – this was perfect as it was steamy!


Mark in his new trousers and his Marcs shirt (not new!). Scrubs up well doesn’t he?!

The backyard cocktail party was lovely, for our friend Susan who was home for her 40th from Germany where she lives with her Greek/German husband Dimi and their three munchkins.


This is my friend Kathy and I – not the birthday girl!


The beautiful Susan!  Happy Birthday!

I managed to make it through the evening tugging it back into place.  At least I didn’t bust out of my dress like one of the lovely waitresses did!  I spent the first half hour of the party sewing the poor girl back into her dress!!  It was so nice to be invited – we had a great time thanks!!

The Facts
Fabric:Poly/Cotton Double faced brocade fabric
Pattern: Butterick B5748
Year: 1960
Notions: Zip, lining
Time to complete: 7 hours
First worn: A friend’s 40th
Wear again? Yes please!
Total Cost: ~$45

My Favourite Dress

I have had a huge week at work this week so have been too tired to sew.  Last week my lovely parents were here from NZ so we did things like go whale watching!  It was lots of fun but we didn’t see any sadly!

So I thought I share with you my favourite dress that I made to wear to the 50’s Fair back in 2009.

Photo: Gavin Blair, Hair by James at Sterling Hair

I used my now favourite Cotton/Lycra Sateen fabrics from Spotlight or Lincraft.  These fabrics are perfect for this type of dress as they you can achieve a good fit and still breathe – or eat comfortably!

I posted it on Sew Weekly for the Royal Wedding Hat challenge of 2011 – one of Mark’s and my first photo shoots – at night – inside – dress looks passable – facial expression rather strange.

I think it is my favourite pattern ever because it is easy to sew and and it fitted me without too much effort on my part!

Originally I made a mock up in black wool (what was I thinking!  Must finish that and perhaps put long sleeves in for Winter! I Definately still had baby brain I think, even though said baby was aged aged four at that time!).

Made it again in black and white cross hatch print- a la Prada Autumn 2010.  Adey has a picture on her blog of the inspirational dress – it’s the one with the bare midriff.  I agree with her comments!

I am wearing it with a petticoat or two underneath in the above photo!

Wore that to the “I love Vintage fair” to meet Kesenya of Alice Jeans and Brooke  of Brooke Orchard Photography, for the first time. Note excited groupie expression!

This dress is perfect for pear shapes is fitted to the waist, it skims over childbearing hips and accentuates a lack of bust with the bathered bosum section.  The bias binding is nice and the extended sleeves are flattering to 40+ year old mummy arms.

A very simliar looking contemporary pattern is  Vogue 8728 – which is suggested for knit fabrics.  I haven’t tried it.

I feel like a million bucks in this dress.  Everyone should have at least one dress that makes them feel like that don’t you think?

The “She’s got issues” Dress

I made this dress back in December, and wore it in January back home in Wellington New Zealand – when I met the lovely, lovely fellow tall girl Kat of  Modern Vintage Cupcakes.  You may have seen the photos on her blog of our meet up for coffee, sunshiny waterfront photo shoot with gelato, followed by the walk home to my folks place.

I apologise for the photos – while some are very beautiful – they don’t show the dress that well.

There’s the infamous Wellington wind blowing up our skirts!

FIRST ISSUE: Not enough fabric

I bought the last piece on the roll – I thought – great that will make a nice skirt.

Then I became obsessed by the above pattern – and would have loved to find a similar border print – nothing on eBay except swimwear fabrics and other uglies. So this stripe (is that what you would call it?) fabric had to do. It was really wide so I convinced myself there was a dress in there – waiting to get out!

I had to piece together bits of fabric to get the bodice out of the fabric I had left.

SECOND ISSUE: The pattern

The pattern was teeny tiny – I should have thrown it away and used something that fitted me.


It looks weird, like it’s creeping around my body. The side seams of course don’t match up either.

FOURTH ISSUE: The wrong undergarments.

I purchased a black strapless bra, not realizing at the time that it is some kind of super duper booster bra! Now, I don’t have nothing to start with, so that didn’t help!

I haven’t worn it again – I might give it another try sans push-up strapless stupidity – before it feels the wrath of my pink unpicker and is transformed into the skirt it should have always been.

And Kat, well she is a bit shy, surprising for a girl with hair as blue as Wellington’s sky on a good day! But by the end of our walk she told me that she was expecting! I felt so special that she shared her secret with me. It made me forget my dress issues immediately! She is going to be a wonderful Mum!

Here is my spring palette, I hope this dress falls into it – the oranges and brown are not exactly correct but I doubt anyone will notice!

By the way, I am standing in front of one of the remnant building of Wellington’s early China town – cute isn’t it!