Friday, September 11, 2009


It's Year 9 and the battleaxe in charge of needlework tells us that to pass the final exam we have to make a dress. The family is in another monetary crisis so we put a fine black wool material on lay-by. It seemed to take ages to pay off and the battleaxe was threatening a fail. I picked this pattern as it looked simple enough to make in a hurry. Wrong! The neck stands away not sits flat and as there are no sleeve seams (a plus in my choice) there is a gusset to be put in under the arm. I sweated over this and when it was finished, the battleaxe awarded me 5 out of 100 points. She said I was late with the project, the dress was black and too sophisticated and my sewing was substandard. That last one was a crock since my mother did most of the gusset bit. As for being too sophisticated, I was and I wore it to the races, the movies, in fact everywhere. I made detachable collars and changed the look constantly as it was my 'Lily Langtry' dress, the only good one I had. I wore it until the stitching and the fabric finally gave out.

And here we are at 20. I loved this dress but not in chiffon. I used a soft silver lame/lurex and the high collar was as heavily beaded as it is here. I cheated. I bought the beading by the metre from Buckley and Nunn. I wore it with Louis lV silver shoes with a silver leather rosette on the front and a matching bag. And the bling, silver drop earrings with one rainbow crystal on the end. I wasn't as skinny as the model but my hair had just been cropped from waist length and that looked like her's. I used to use a colour called Mahogany Cherry and the bath always looked like a serial killer had been at work.
The Biggie. The Wedding Dress. Yes, that is Jean Shrimpton and no, I didn't look as svelte as she does. We dropped the long train, thank the Goddess, since the drunken groom had enough trouble with the short veil which I'd decided on. The collar and sleeves were in silk chiffon and the dress fabric was linen with a paisley over stitched pattern. I've still got it and it's in good nick. I just have to stop wanting to embroider the paisley with tiny pearls.


Andrew said...

The second photo, the shape is not flattering to someone so thin. See Patsy, you can be too thin.

JahTeh said...

Cameraface, that model is buxom compared to models these days. I was a lot thinner too, still a handful but thinner.

R.H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R.H. said...


Miss Jahteh you dear thing, greetings.

Even more than politicians, psychiatry likes naming places after its prominent gasbags. There's the Thomas Embling Hospital for instance, the Ernest Jones Clinic, the Rosa Gilbert Flats, and so on.

Now there's the Professor Mullen Forensic Centre, and he's not even dead yet.

Prof Mullen does not believe in the unconscious. I do, because it talks so much, with advice I'd never find otherwise.

R.H. said...

Prof X is a lady psychiatrist, as fixated on science as the State Trustees are on money. No space for individuals.

R.H. said...

The safe thing about social workers is they're interested in the everyday:


River said...

I had a different experience in sewing class. My dad was of the opinion that if the school wanted you to learn something they should supply the goods to do so. Whenever we had to make something the teacher took pity on me and bought me a metre of whatever was cheapest at the fabric shop. For our dress, however, the other girls got together and took up a collection to buy me enough material. I made a simple blue shift and passed the class. I wore that shift until I grew out of it, then cut off the top section, hemmed the raw edge, threaded elastic through and had a skirt that lasted another couple of years, ending its life as a mini skirt.

Ann oDyne said...

I hope that bridal gown is worn one day by a grand-daughter.
The Sixties may have been the absolute peak of home-sewing.
I copied complete ensembles of pop idols and my friends were also sewing madly every Saturday afternoon and wearing the results that night.
Bless dear River's teacher.
The era we survived is so alien to today's demanding-teens experience.

JahTeh said...

Robbert, how nice to have you back. I thought the full moon had affected you so badly, you were taking time to chill out. I don't see how he could not believe in the unconscious since that's usually the state in which I operate.

River, nice teacher, mine was a nitpicking old bag and turned me off sewing for years. But then Ma was a great one for sewing. I'd draw up the design, buy the material, usually at Buckly and Nunn since their sales were second to none and new outfit was mine. Next stop was PB shoes, also good sales, and then Walton's for the matching bag.

Miss O'Dyne, I blame jeans culture. You can't make your own jeans but I was always running a thread for a hem on a Saturday afternoon, I could do that part, sitting under the hair dryer with curlers tearing the roots out hoping I had enough hair spray to last the night.

Anonymous said...

ah, Jahteh. memory lane. have been back; collected the 'recorded' stuff methinks important. Now having battles with self.

What t burn, what to keep.
Davo - Wombat dreaming

Kath Lockett said...

They are all stunning. Each of them could easily be in the shops today.

What an old bag your sewing teacher was!

JahTeh said...

Davo, I know that battle. I have been doing it with my mother's things for a week. I am a natural born bower bird and even as a child kept my treasures in a locked case so my sister couldn't throw them out.

Kath, apparently the '80s clothes are on the way back slightly altered though. Looking through the patterns I seem to have a love affair with floaty sleeves but the way I drape things in the soup, I'm not surprised they haven't been out of the wrapping.

R.H. said...

Hello darlings my little sweetiepies. Things reach their end. You may give Savers Footscray a big steer from now on. Seems the HOMOSEXUAL staff there look more fagged than ever as their chief poof (a little fat duck) minces about slapping huge prices on everything. He has discovered collectables. Fair enough. But can't distinguish value from rubbish. First prize at the moment is an old radiogram rotting on four legs. $299.00, that's what he's slapped on it. Then away he goes, skipping right through the store, and "Whoo-oh!" he shrieks, "What a good looking ma-a-a-an!" banging $349.00 on an old dressing table with a cracked mirror
He's gone crackers, pure manic, stand still long enough and he'll price your arse.
ha ha ha. Well I won't be DRAGGING home junk from there anymore.
A house is not a homo.

JahTeh said...

Robbert, this is going on everywhere and the Salvos are right on it. I recall Miss O'Dyne refusing to buy a book from a country op-shop because of the outrageous price.

R.H. said...

The salvos are worst of all. Were never cheap. And people like my grandfather leave their bloody houses to them.


Middle Child said...

Wow - from someone who can not sew, hates have my total admiration I wouldn't know where to start