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.


Friday Fabric Find – Delft Tile Fabric

Another trip to the dentist with the big boy today so we visited two op shops out of our neighbourhood.  He doesn’t mind visiting an op shop and he found two pairs of All Stars (sneakers) and one pair of Vans – nice!


I got some patterns which I shall show you on another day – but how do you like this?  I think its very Fifties – because of its hand painted look.  The subject matter pictures what I assume are supposed to be Delft Ceramics – which are white and blue – but look lovely in the grey tones.


There is a subtle tile pattern in the teal background – can you see it?  I will have to make it up into a little top and see if my Tiler husband gets the joke!

It was a bit of a bargain 90 cms wide (definitely vintage) 1.5m in length for $6.50!


The fabric is cotton but has a lovely sheen to it – because it’s a sateen weave.  You can feel the difference when you run your fingers over from top to bottom (it’s smoother) and across (more rough).

Still not much sewing going on around here – ok none!  It’s still T-shirt weather in Sydney – the mornings are cooler but the afternoons still in the high twenties – it’s lovely actually.

Fifties Fabric

The big boy had to have an adult tooth removed – it was weakened by Asthma drugs as a baby and was never going to be any good – no matter what we did to it.  He was a little anxious on the chair and started to hyperventilate (just like I did as a kid).  The retail therapy improved his mood – like mother like son!

Hope you get some sewing done this weekend!

The “Little bit of Horrockses” Dickie

This little apron came from an op shop.  I thought it looked old – you don’t see much polished cotton these days. I sometimes buy aprons because they are often in interesting old fabrics.  I think old ladies (often excellent recyclers!) make them from scraps left over from frocks. This apron was made up from lots of narrow strips and a whole lotta selvage (the taupe section)!  It is sewn in very tight zig stitches which were a nightmare to unpick – so I left some in!

The fabric is pretty special. The print really caught my eye. The figures are dressed in Rococo fashions and are drawn in a very cartoonish style.  Cute colours: pink purple yellow and aqua – very on trend for summer – according to Pantone’s forecast.

Recently I was trawling around the net researching 50’s dresses and I found in Te Papa (New Zealand’s National Museum) collection a Horrockses dress in the same fabric as my little apron.  Thought it would be perfect to make for the Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations this week.  The other ladies on the Sew Weekly are also doing this theme if you care to take a look.

Horrockses Fashions by Christine Boydell

– this book is fantastic if you are into 40/50’s fashions.

When The Queen toured New Zealand in 1953-4 she wore a number of Horrockses dresses.  My mum Natalie Blair bought one in this tulip print in a grey and yellow colourway.  She bought it because it was similar to what The Queen had.  Mum likes The Queen.

So it is with great pleasure I celebrate The Queens Jubilee with a wee Dickie.

It matches my 50’s cardi rather well don’t you think?

She is a trooper – congrats Mrs Quinn, and thanks for all the years of gracious service (said in a strong New Zealand accent. Check out Flight of the Conchords if you don’t know what it sounds like!).

The Facts
Fabric: Vintage apron in Horrockses Cotton $4, and polka dot scrap from stash
Pattern: Vogue 6984 combined with Simplicity S.119 – about $5

Year: Early 1950’s

Notions: A button and the whole front is interfaced

Time to complete: A crazy 7 hours, and a good hour for testing out the wing collar and fitting pieces into scraps!
First worn: for the photos
Wear it again? Yes – its more comfortable than a shirt would be and is a hint of vintage for a work day

Total cost: $10

Charlotte has done some reserach on Dickies here:
And so has Jemina Bean

Sorry it’s on the mannequin – it was one of those weeks and I hate my new haircut!

The “Like a Table Cloth” – but in a good way patchwork skirt

I just stumbled across this little beauty from Anthropologie – while wasting time, I mean researching, over on Pinterest.

Could be a great way to upcycle those vintage table cloths (and scraps) that I have been hoarding, but don’t have enough morning teas with ladies to use every day.  Cos I work, that’s right, to keep myself in vintage table cloths!

It would be so easy to make up:


Arrange the patches to your liking

Sew together into a big rectangle

Sew a centre back seam leaving a gap in the centre back for a zip

Insert the zip

Gather the top to your waist measurement, attach a waistband in your size

Finish with a button/hole or hooks and eyes!

Wear it out somewhere fun and receive compliments!  Yay!

Right place, right time!

Have you ever gone AWOL on the way to the supermarket?  Late one Saturday arvo recently, I took a wrong turn and saw a badly drawn sign guiding me to a street I had never heard of.  Being an impulsive garage sale junkie – I obediently drove down a long road which then ran out of houses.  Then I was just in the Australian bush – driving, the signs had stopped.    Eventually I was back in suburbia and found the sale in a little Mid-Century Aussie house with a peacock-blue glass window near the front door – how outré and so much nicer than amber glass!

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The sale was run by two sisters, selling off their dear mum’s stuff as she was going into a nursing home.  The eldest sister asked for $4 for over 30 patterns ranging from the 50’s to the 80’s.  I gave her $20 – that made her kids smile – they were getting a cut.

What do you think?  Should have I given them more money?  Or would they have just ended up at the local charity shop and they were lucky to get anything for them so late in the day?

Anyway – I am so grateful and I am sending that special lady (oh so stylish!)  blessings and happiness in her new home.  I am kicking myself for not finding out more about her – and what fabulous events she wore those divine pieces to.  I bet it wasn’t the  buy groceries!!

Coming up Roses Gypsy Blouse

Hi there!

The kids and I have been home from work and school on holidays for two weeks.  As always I think I am going to read and sew to my heart’s content, and blog, and bake.  As always the unexpected happens and my plans go awry!

We had a big conference at church during the middle weekend and were having an extra seven people to stay – gulp!  I had allowed the first week of the hols to de-clutter and redecorate the sewing/guest room – Ha!  The 70’s mural was depressing me every time I went in the room –  then I discovered it was concealing a patch of mould – yuck.  Then I became determined to get rid of it!  It took two days of scraping!  What is left is are pink walls,  I only managed to get one layer off – but I am channelling  Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic, and Megan Morton’s guest room, and we are living with the “aged” look of the wall for now.

I was so excited to finally get my little collection of art deco mirrors up – and my “shabby” prints – oh and to get the room cleared out a bit – I have lots to put on eBay – it’s stacked up in the laundry – watch this space!

So anyway – I was so excited about this week’s Sew Weekly Challenge – Spanish Harlem – though I have few references – I have been to Spain and I adore anything in a Rose Print – had a look at some images of West Side Story (which I have never seen) and the wonderful Rita Moreno,  and I went for it, kinda, of by churning out my go-to gypsy blouse see below.  I also had hopes of making a black circular skirt to go with it – but I didn’t have enough fabric and there was no way I was taking my lively offspring to the dreaded fabric shop!

Oh and by the way Sydney has recently seen its first Costco store open up and I bought a colossal bag of Reeces Peanut Butter cups – which I have been working my way through – whoops, and then I decided I needed to make this top a little, ahem – roomier.

So Plan B was to have a crack at Very Easy Vogue 9963 from the 70’s by the looks of it and make it a little longer – I hate it when things are too short.

My photographer for the day was my 8-year-old Alex, and my father in-law Mario (he’s Italian not Spanish, and he did not wear his glasses!), our location is Sydney Markets at Flemington.  They have a hall of flowers, a flea market on Saturdays, and the Fruit and Veg hall – with stinky fish and nuts and unrefrigerated cheeses.  It is not a patch on Melbourne’s Central Market, but hey, it’s all we’ve got! It is a very fun thing to do on a Saturday and our whole family, well probably me mostly – loves it!  You get the whole United Nations experience, that in Sydney, in one place.  And on Saturdays the flowers are dirt cheap – go and get a whole houseful (a word of advice – the roses are not going to last long ‘cos they’ve been there all week).   What’s not to like?

We even found this lovely Spanish Lady – Ole!  Tyres, lawn mowers – a very random selection!

Warratah’s: New South Wales Floral Emblem – aren’t they amazing?


You just can’t get a chamber pot anywhere these days.

I got flowers; lillies, warratahs, and orchids $5 a bunch (free), a box of apples $10, a set of hot rollers $5 and a 1950’s vase also $5 – score!

The Facts

Fabric: Cotton Lycra from Spotlight $30
Pattern:  Very Easy Vogue 9963 60 cents
Year: c. 1970’s
Notions: some elastic
Time to complete: Time taken – 2.5 hours – love this!
First worn: September 2011
Wear again? Yes! lots – I really love this print

Total Cost: About $30