Treasure from a Pre-TV World

Gosh, the beginning of the school year is so busy isn’t it?

I must make a note to watch our commitments and make sure I have at least cleared off the notice board of the previous year of school before the year starts!

We have been busy teaching Sunday School, getting our youngest organized for his first year of club soccer, as well as the usual round of Parent/Teacher meetings – there literally is a deluge of paper to contend with, and lists of stationary to buy, and I still don’t feel like I have gotten on top of things since we got back from NZ!

The kids are busy, the little one joined the Drama Club (!!!) and will do Gymnastics next term. The eldest one with also do Senior Gymnastics

So here’s the bit about Opera. This is a book I found many years ago in an Op Shop – It’s a guide to Operas. My Dad, who is a bit of an Opera buff, comes to Sydney he likes to go to the Opera House and catch one, so we study before we go. The handmade cover is very beautifully embroidered isn’t it. It’s a much loved book from a Pre-TV world. It’s nearly 100 years old. It fell off the book case the other day and this postcard was hiding inside. I have no idea where the building is but its sweet. Don’t you think?

A book cover, that’s a nice easy sewing project, make it as simple or crochet the edges?

Hope you are managing to juggle your load successfully…






Thrift Life and What I bought at the Fifties Fair

Thrift Life

The gorgeous Astred over at Design Cherry is starting a new regular “semi regular” feature called “Thrift Life” which involves boasting about Op Shop or Thrift Store finds – I said I’d join up, you are invited to join in too!

She is a graphic designer, that lovely banner and button are her work.  Her blog is a visual treat, her home amazing and her colourful friends are like exotic birds.

Do go and check out Astred‘s fabulous blog and I hope you join in the fun!

Fifties Fair Shopping

So to kick off my contribution to Thrift Life – here’s what I bought this year at the fifties fair.

I was quite restrained this year while shopping . The fact that the prices were astronomical did help.

The pick of the day had to be these glasses. I plan to them made into reading glasses. You can’t have too many pairs!

This male Calypso dancer figure was cheap. He should be on a frame, and have a female partner, but he didn’t so he was just $20.   He’s hanging out in the hallway.

Finally, I couldn’t resist this sweet tablecloth.  I love the colour palette and strawberries – I think it needs to be reincarnated as a skirt, I know, another one.

Other business – Wardrobe renovations

My husband had some time off this week so we went to Ikea and are in the process of installing new wardrobes. Very exciting as the old ones were original from 1971 – damp, dark staring to fall apart and woefully inadequate for our (my) wardrobe.

I salvaged the vintage door handles and I hope that we can reuse them on the new white Ikea doors.

We will do the kids rooms too – when we get time.  Meanwhile – there are doors and parts stacked in the hallway – that’s nothing compared to the six months we had with a un-assembled kitchen taking up half the room – piece of cake;)





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!

Licorice Allsorts – Trace off your favourite T-shirt Tutorial

Striped T-Shirt, Black Doll, Offering Bowl, Licorice All-sorts, Fifites Puzzle
This picture shows some of what’s in my head. A frustrated desire to sew, what I am actually doing (selling vintage wares on eBay) and what’s coming up – a trip to Bali in a while.

Do you like this cute T-shirt I got on sale at Target recently?

I like its licorice allsorts stripes but the best thing about is the cut.

The body is cut like a singlet – with a small folded cap sleeve inserted – it has a very flattering effect for ladies with large arms!

I am going to attempt to replicate this design.

If you have a favourite t-shirt that is the perfect cut for you I recommend taking a pattern off it – usually simple even for a beginner pattern maker – just lay it flat and trace around. The front is usually lower than the back. Then add seam allowances.

One I had two layers at the front so finishing the neck edge was not a problem as you sewed the neckline first then cut nicks into the seam area, then turn it through and attach the back at the shoulders and the sides. Sing out if you need visual help and I will put something together.

Or you but that binding elastic stuff – which makes finishing raw edges fun.

Or did you know that knit fabrics (generally) don’t fray! You could just leave the edges raw! Too easy

I have been feeling so guilty about not blogging recently but my real job has been very busy with trips to Newcastle several times, new store opening set ups, getting the kids settled in with their new teachers and my eldest is off on his first camp next week – much anticipation about that! Mark has been away in Wollongong this week so that is big and adds pressure. And I was helping organize a school event – which meant lots of meetings – emails – phone calls and then supervision of the jumping castle for hours on Friday night. The kids loved it though.

I have also been listing lots of vintage goodies on eBay (might do a blog post about that). We are off on our first ever trip to Singapore and Bali with Mark’s sister and her family soon and I am trying to make some spending money. I am dreaming about lots of dinners out, the kids swimming all day and reading books – doesn’t that sound like bliss? Oh and I have a tonne of fabric that I want to get made in to clothes – I know it’s cheating but I think its a brilliant way to bust my stash!

Don’t just bin it! Donate and give back!

Sam, the greenest girl I know in the sorting bin room at Anglicare Op Shop at Summer Hill,105 Carlton Crescent, Summer Hill

Sam, the greenest girl I know in the sorting bin room at Anglicare Op Shop at Summer Hill

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald has the following article on Businesses that appear to be a Charitable Organizations, but, who end up sending your donated clothing to third world countries, where they are resold. I feel there is a place for businesses such as this – but they should be honest about the fact that they are, in fact, a business! I also think we should think a little more thoughtful about our unwanted garments rather than just taking the easy way out and chucking everything into a drop box or a plastic bag left in your letter box.

The low-cost of clothes means that they are very disposable these days, eg Kmart shirts for $7 – it’s tempting to go nuts and buy – but I am concerned about the sweatshop labour that has made these clothes and the ultimate environmental impact of this. I feel fashion designers at the high-end make investment garments, intended to last for years. These are sometimes on sold to Second Hand Designer Clothes shops – or make it to eBay. This is great and extends the life of garments. These garments are the vintage clothes of the future. But in my less than illustrious career in fashion, one of my position was in the low-end of the fashion industry. Where clothes were made super cheap in Fiji or China, – it’s all about getting the product for the cheapest price for stores like Target, Kmart, Best and Less etc. And yielding the highest profit – there was a little saying taped to the wall went was something like “Making discount clothing in low volume was like eating soup with chopsticks”. Which means, to make money producing cheap clothes, you must produce in large volumes. We as consumers should be more responsible with the earth’s resources. If we refuse to buy, they will stop ordering so much which gets marked down to ridiculous levels at the end of the season. This is a massive issue – one which I think we all need to take responsibility for.

When you take a load to your local Vinnies, Salvos or Lifeline – you are contributing to the poor of your local community, if they feel your donation is below their standard – they will ultimately pass the goods on to one of these company’s that on sell to the third world. But you have given your local charity the chance to get a few dollars, that they can feed the homeless or down on their luck people in your community. Believe me, they are out there, many times I have been shopping in, my local, Chatswood St Vincent de Paul and people have come in to ask for some help with getting clothing or other needs met.

I therefore have a grading system for my unwanted clothes.

CLOTHES SWAPS – I save my best, lightly worn clothes for clothes swaps that my friend Sam runs. You and your friends could get together and do this too. She charges $10 – buys some wine, we all bring 10 pieces and usually go home with a few really fun nearly new pieces and the profits go to a charity of her choice. Its a total hoot – most memorable was one of her friends modelling the 1960’s Speedo bathing suit, that I donated, she has worn it to parties and elicited the same reaction – what fun, maybe one day it will end up in a museum, as it should.

DONATE – For clothes that are a little more dated, that I am sick of, but that are only lightly worn and in good nick, they go in a box – until the next time I visit the op shop.

DROP BOX OR BAG – For clothes that are faded, pilled, stained, have small holes, dirty collars, have buttons missing or maybe the elastic is gone from the waist – they can go and have another life in the third world, where fashion is not a concern. Sometimes I do feel bad about that too big waist but I hope they are creative enough to make it work. I have been to Fiji – they can’t go to Kmart and buy a whole new wardrobe for their kids cheaply.

PRESCHOOL – They need spare clothes for “accidents”, they love Dress Up Costumes, and they love fabric and paper/cartons etc for kids craft activities.

LANDFILL – Really?! I don’t put garments in the bin unless they are my husbands old clothes, covered in glue, which have been worn for best, then work to work, got covered in glue then used as a cleaning rag mopping up oil or something in the garage.

If you want to read more about Sydney’s great op shops I have blogged about it here.

I hope this inspires you to plan and be more thoughtful about your consumption this Christmas and how you might give back more next year.

I have one more sewing project to share with you after it goes up on Sew Weekly.

Then I will be sharing my holiday Instagram photos and will be blogging my phone so it will be very brief!

Blessings to you and yours and may all your dreams come true in the New Year!!

Love and Kisses!


The “Magpies and Blue Skies” Skirt

During the middle of my photo shoot – i.e. me with camera set on self-timer and using a chair on the trampoline as a tripod, a magpie broke into my house. My youngest son was panicking and screaming as it flapped about trying to get out – I opened a latch on a window and shoved the glass, but the window was stuck so I broke the glass and knocked over a vase of flowers!   He made such mess pooing (the bird not my son) from one end of the house to the other, on the carpet, on a book, on clean washing!  Argghh I could have wrung his neck!  Luckily I didn’t cut myself and there was no serious damage.

So I am not smiling in these photo – I am fuming!

I bet you are fuming too because, guess what – I have made this boring skirt three times!

Oh yes, and it’s even a UFO so all I had to do was take off the too small waist band and re-attach because its taken me making this skirt three times to work out what my waist measurement is!

We are careering towards the end of the kids second term and we are tired! I work three days during school hours and there are speeches for 6 year olds (ridiculous right??) and projects for 9 year olds. The laundry is piling up around the place and its been wet all week so it is taking over our living spaces!  Oh yes and my husband is at work for the twelfth day straight!  First world problems right?!

Being grateful helps me when I am whining so here goes; I have a garden where Birds of Paradise are in  flower, the Sydney sky was blue for the first time in days, for the photos, my camera has a self-timer and this skirt is finally finished.

I really like that print. It is the exact colour palette of one of my Dads 1960’s Hawaiian shirts that I used to wear when I was a teenager. It was a remnant so I didn’t have enough to make a dress and I wasn’t even able to piece together a top, despite quite a bit of time spend trying – which is probably why I abandoned this for 6 months – hours of sewing getting me nowhere is incredibly off-putting.

I might get some laces for some platform shoes from the scraps – we’ll see.

If I were going on a lovely tropical holiday or a Tiki Party  – this is the kind of thing I’d like to wear.  Dreams are free!

Oh and I found a tripod at an op shop for $12 this week – score!

The Facts
Fabric: 3m Cotton Lycra Sateen at $12.99 per metre
Pattern: Skirt from McCalls 9400 – without pleat/underlay
Year: 1950’s
Notions: Zip, Button, Waistband interfacing
Time to complete: 4 hours includes unpicking
First worn: For the photos
Wear again? Yes, a lot I think
Total Cost: $39

Excuse the typo

Do you like Typo?  I find their vintage aesthetic and have-to-have stationery items irresistable.

The swearing and rude jokey things I can do without.

But I could not do with out these babies – feast your eyes!

A yummier neoprene (wetsuit material) laptop sleeve I have never seen. Those images have just walked right of a pattern envelope – and are gorgeous – there’s even a red polka dot dress – yum!

Maybe I would have been more into diving (like the men of my family) if the wetsuits were more interesting!

Gorgeous notepad for scribbling down ideas for blog - featuring bunting - I adore that stuff!

Laser Cut Antique Sewing Machine - now on display in the Sewing Room of course!

A great place for presents, not just for girls, their cool typographic items will do for the men in your life too. But it’s Mothers Day coming up soon so get something cool for your Mum or Nana this year!