The “Weigh the Anchor ” Shirt and Bandana

I have written about my family’s affinity for the sea before but I haven’t worn anchors since I wore big plastic earrings with neon yellow mesh ankle socks one Christmas Day in the 1980’s.  My Dad’s diver mates gave such a hard time that day, about the anchors, that I doubt if I ever wore them again.

I found this shirt in a local oppy for $11 .  It had a couple of tiny red paint dots on the front which probably explains why it appears to be unworn genuine 1970’s vintage. Score!
The Bandana fabric I also picked up for $1.  It a polyester/cotton.  Heavy on the polyester – unwearable in my opinion – but OK for a headscarf for a bit!

After I washed it, Mum helped me to pin out darts in the back. I did the front ones and pinned in the side seams – making the shape more feminine. The rule of darts and fitting is that you take out the same amount on either side so they are even.

I did two little embroidery polka dots to cover up the paint marks. I changed the buttons to these fabulous anchor buttons I picked up in NZ.

It was a nice easy up-cycle. I recommend asking your Mum, or a friend to help with pinning out your back darts – it’s so much easier than trying to do this yourself!

I am wearing the “Cats Meow” Jeans that I made back in May for 40’s Week.  I have worn these a lot.

My Mum has been staying for a 5 weeks (Dad and my brother a week) helping me out but last Saturday we waved them all on their way, my parents touring up to Queensland and my brother back to Scotland for work as a diver in the North Sea. Its been lovely having all my family around – weigh the anchor!
Thanks to my brother Gav, for taking the photos at Balmoral Beach (not far from where Mark and I got married by the Rotunda there) – it was quite windy that afternoon and crowded as you can see.  I tried to disappear behind a palm tree and not attract too much attention!

The Facts
Pattern: None

Year: 1970’s

Notions: Anchor Buttons

Time to complete: 3 hours or less

First worn: To Balmoral Beach for the photos

Wear again: Maybe?

Total price: $15


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 “Rose Hips” Top and Skirt

Thanks for stopping by!  The 5th season is launching in the U.S. this week.  So to celebrate  our Sew Weekly challenge garment is to recreate a look inspired by the show.  Yay!

Alternative titles for this: The “Like Joan from the Back” Top and Skirt, or The “Hips like Joan” Top and Skirt.

This project has been brewing in my head for months since some time in 2011 when Mena first mentioned we’d be doing – I for one, am glad it got pushed back a few months!

My favourite dress from the show is Joan’s Dress with Roses, worn for that scene when she hosts her husband’s colleagues for dinner and he humiliates her.  Sad night – great dress.

I heard from someone who saw the actual costume in person, that the roses were roughly appliqued onto the dress.  I can do rough!

So, the top started life as an 80’s  Batwing Dress plus size dress from the Australian Label – Maggie T.  It caught my eye in the Op shop because it’s made from a lovely wool jersey.

There was not enough fabric to make a dress – so it became a top.


Cut out Roses roughly.

Iron the interfacing on to the reverse of the fabric

Cut out carefully

Zig-zag the edge

Topstitch into position

Attach facings

Sew side seams

Insert sleeves and finish hems

Makes it sound easy right?  It took hours – and was all done in stages


Of course this was not easy either due to a monumental stuff up I made.

The skirt, due to my lack of organization, acquired an extra pattern piece from another skirt – fate had it that I measured this piece to see if the skirt was going to bet too short (as I suspected) then, much to my surprise I discovered that it was long enough (except it wasn’t).

So I was disappointed to learn upon trying it on – that I had made the whole thing too short.  And I had used nearly all my fabric.

I had procrastinated so much I was now down to the wire.  I had a hair appointment scheduled for Thursday and was going to get my Hair Dresser Christina to do me an Up-Do.

Another few days delay to work out what to do – I had to add the ruffle to the hem.  I think it worked ok.  I still need to line the skirt and I wanted to line the ruffle in this fabulous red lining fabric I have had for years.

I got home from the Hair dressers and threw on the ruffle and put the zip in.


I have to say a big elastic belt covers a multitude of sins.  It makes a badly fitting. unhemmed top fit and covers up the unfinished waist of a skirt!

Photo day was a hot 30 degrees again – of course – sweating in wool again!  Pretend to be feeling really glamorous, while wondering to self “Maybe if I had spent more time on sewing than shopping for 60’s glass ware to make the drinks cabinet pretty – this would have been totally finished?”

And thanks to Maureen Elliott my Mum’s dear friend for the stunning  60’s jet earrings, which were a present a few years ago (with a matching necklace).

New Season of Mad Men – Bring it on!

The Facts
Fabric: Top: Upcycled Wool Jersey Dress and Rose Print Cotton Lycra Sateen, Skirt: upholstery Wool from stash
Pattern: Top: Simplicity 5939  Skirt: Simplicity Rebecca Taylor V1169
Year: 1965 and 2010 respectively
Notions: Interfacing from stash
Time to complete: 6 months including thinking time
First worn: For photos
Wear again? The top -yes.  The skirt – they both need more work really.
Total price: $25

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!