Thursday, November 27, 2014

Olivia + Giveaway winner


Well now, I know I said I was going to announce the winner of the Make and Mend Fabulous give-away yesterday, but I got home a little late after attending my friends end of year Design Exhibition and after a happy amount of free wine, I may or may not have been in the mood to eat spaghetti and fall asleep on the couch. And cause, you know, blogging while under the influence can been risky... so yeah... Anyway! Everything looked wonderful and I'm very proud of my friend for completing TAFE with a small child and working as well! Super mum for sure!

So, I'm sure you've heard enough of my antics... The winner of the Make and Mend fabulous book, DVDs and vintage pattern tracing is... PIGEONWISH

Pigeonwish commented that she would "make me and my boyfriend coordinating outfits (in as classy a way possible) Wonderful answer! How many of us would like to make something not just for ourselves but also our partners? 

Congratulations lovely! I'll send you an email soon and thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Now that the formalities are over, lets get on to having a look at the latest addition to the Sewing the 60s family, Olivia!

So a little bit about dear Olivia. After a researching Norma Tullo early this year, I purchased a few of her patterns including this one - Butterick 4519 from 1968. The pattern is one of a number of patterns Norma designed in the 60s with Butterick  

The fabric chosen is a vintage magenta cotton sateen with tiny flowers. When it arrived it had a marvellous branding stamp in gold ink on the bottom declaring that it was made in China and a sort of map if I recall. I couldn't find the off-cut, but the colour of the fabric after all these years is so bright and solid. Very well looked after!

The delicate little ruffles around the collar and wrists reminded me of the romanticism revival of the late 60s and the film Romeo and Juliet, which spurred this style. Olivia Hussey was the actress who played Juliet, hence the name!

The dress has an interesting composition. The front is two piece like a fit-and-flare style dress but the back is 1 piece like a shift dress. I'm not entirely sure what sort of effect Norma was going with on this, but it does create an interesting visual.

The base dress is quite plain and relies on embellishments to fancy it up. This means that things like ruffles, buttons, piping and bows are all part of the instructions, but of course you can add on what ever you like. I didn't want the dress to be too fussy, so I only did the ruffles, but I'm sure with some pretty contrasting chiffon ruffles (as in this picture), matching piping, tiny buttons and a belt it would still be very pretty and interesting

My own modifications include adding more width to the front skirt for more hip room as well as in-seam pockets. 

I also made a mistake by cutting it shorter then normal and so I made a facing for the hem with the bit that I cut off. 

Also added was a little bit of stay tape/twill ribbon along the gathered waist to keep the shape in the gathers. (see a little picture of it here)
If you're a fan of ruffles or sewing fit and flare style dresses, stay tape is really handy to keep the gathers from shifting around. It also is good to add along bias cut seam lines to stop it from sagging and loosing shape! 

I did make one major boo-boo! You see I put the sleeves on the wrong sides!! Probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but this pattern has you sew a little dart in the elbow which should sit on the outside, but it is actually on the inside in my elbow crease... not right, but I didn't mind! 

Two piece front

One piece back

Now, for those adorable ruffles! They are a simple and sweet way of lifting your sewing into a romantic, sweet place and don't take very much effort. 

I also added them to the cuffs as instructed. You're supposed to decorate the cuffs with small buttons but I didn't. 

When sewing on the facings, I caught the ruffles within the facings and so it accidentally gave the cuffs a curved seam! Still pretty!

To make the ruffles yourself, simply measure the length of the neck, arm hole or wrist. 

On a piece of tracing paper, draw a rectangle the length of the seam you just measured x one and a half (i.e. if the neck is 42cm, draw a rectangle 63cm long) and 7cm wide.

Fold the strip in half wrong sides together and stitch a basting stitch down the raw edge. Pull the thread to ruffle up that strip and tie the ends off to secure. 

When you're ready to sew in the facing or bias, sandwich the ruffle between the facing and the dress as normal and stitch. Flip out the facing, iron and voila! Tiny ruffles!

Isn't it cute? The cat not the dress. 

Ok the dress is cute to but hey, if a cats gonna photo bomb, you got 10 seconds before the timer goes off to make it look adorable. There was nothing in my hand, but Balthy wasn't the wiser

A bonus for those of you still reading, while making the dress, I was contacted by Peta, whose mum worked with Norma Tullo in her Melbourne studio in the 60s. That's Norma with the dark hair on the right, and her studio manager Carol Silk on the left.

Isn't Norma's dress just adorable!

Both photos were taken by Peta's mum

Norma Tullo at the register in her own boutique

Well I hope you enjoyed meeting Olivia and also getting to see a little more Norma. I have a few more of her patterns still to make!

I'm currently working on a bustier for my work Christmas party outfit. I'm almost done. i just need to sew in the straps and hem it. And this weekend, I'll be joining the Sydney Spoolettes for a sewing day at Bobbin and Ink in Petersham. It shall be tremendous fun!

Till then my dears!

Cat xo 


  1. Cute dress! The magenta looks really good on you.

  2. \(^o^)/ WHAAAT!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
    I think matching outfits can raise again, I remember at one point in the 90's it was a thing. I can still remember the Beckhams in their matching pleather splendour hahaha
    Sewing is such a nice hobby because you can share it in a way. Again thanks and enjoy your fabulous sounding weekend :)

    1. Hehe I remember that! Or Justin and Britney in their denim outfits?! Haha I wasn't able to find you're email! Can you please send me an email and we can swap detail for me to send your giveaway prize to! xoxo

    2. Hi, I replied but I think it got lost o.0
      I absolutely remember Justin and Britney's outfit!!! haha don't think I'm confident enough for such a statement :)
      I sent you an email a few days ago, I titled it pigeonwish if ends up in junk

  3. Olivia is a beauty! I love the little ruffles, and the accidental curved detail on the cuffs. Gorgeous fabric, you look fantastic. xxx

    1. Thank you love! Its far too hot to war now. it'll have to wait till winter

  4. Loving the magenta and the sweet ruffles - and wasn't Olivia Hussey just divine as Juliet!

    1. indeed! she has that lovely innocent face - perfect for juliet!

  5. What a gorgeous dress, I love how the back's so simple compared to the front and the sleeves are so perfectly Sixties!
    Peta's mum's photos are wonderful and I want to steal Balthy for me, he's the Aussie Ginger Alan! xxx

    1. Thank you! hehe im glad you like Balthy, he's a bit of a grump though sometimes!

  6. Lovely dress Cat, really sweet design. I love those photos of Norma Tullo, how fab that Peta's mum go to work with her! I must try and get my hands on some of her patterns.

    1. Thank you! I think you'd really suit Norma Tullos designs. Heck if you'd like a tracing of one of mine, let me know!


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