Vintage dress
Yes, it happens but once a year.

No I’m not talking about me wearing brown clothing – or even Christmas, Easter or New Year. These are all things that we celebrate with great noise, joy, street parties, lots of chocolate, drinking and so on.

This once a year event is my birthday which I generally let pass with as little fuss as possible. No noise, chocolate (maybe some drinking) and the biggest party is my children unwrapping my presents as they get more of a thrill out of it than me. I don’t even really like birthday cake. Yes I am BORING.

This year I am making an exception for you! It’s my birthday tomorrow (20 November – remember I’m a scary scorpio LOL) and I’m making a little bit of blog noise… because I have a new dress and that’s what I do in this corner of the world.

I didn’t make it. I didn’t buy it.

My mother-in-law bought it for me at the vintage dress fair in Hobart. It’s a 1950s dress!

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress - bodice

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress – bodice. I’ve got my hand on my hip (cos I’ve got old gal attitude) my shoulders are not lopsided!

It’s a very simple dress but beautifully made. I’m sure whoever owned it before me, loved it dearly as it is in amazing condition.

When I found this on the rack I didn’t think it would fit. Its waist is 24 inches (I always remember how Scarlett O’Hara’s waist was 18 inches. Seriously! How small is that!!). I was convinced it might not even do up but I decided to risk my self esteem in the pursuit of chocolate lace (so there is chocolate at this party). It did, and it fits like it was made just for me.

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress - old gal

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress – old gal can’t handle the snow glare!!

Since I am always boring you to death with beach pictures, I decided to take advantage of the snow in Tasmania and frolick about in the snow for these pictures.

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress - back view

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress – back view

And you want to see inside? *blush*

Vintage dress - inside

Vintage dress – inside

And the shoes? I know that Anne of Pretty Grievances is dying to know…

Well… my husband’s size 13 sneakers…

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress - the shoes

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress – the shoes

I know stylin’! In my defense I hadn’t planned on any vintage dress photo shoots while having a long weekend in Tasmania. My boots would have been much harder to crop out! I spent most of my time dressed like this…

Vogue 1247 skirt and Sewaholic Renfrew cowl neck

Vogue 1247 skirt and Sewaholic Renfrew cowl neck

Don’t ask me my age – it destroys a gal’s mystique and it makes me glare at you like this…

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress - the cranky shot

Happy Birthday Vintage Dress – the super model frosty stare… actually just snow glare induced but makes me laugh all the same…

More importantly – the burning question for today is… what is the best way to get rid of a ‘musty’ smell. I’m a little terrified to entrust this dress to a drycleaner… I’ve heard a theatre rumour that the wardrobe people use a vodka/water spray to freshen up clothing between shows… More research required… and if it doesn’t work at least I can drink the experiment….

And Happy Birthday to the zillions of sewing bloggers born in November! Clearly Scorpios love to sew!!


  1. Let me be the first to congratulate you on your birthday and the gorgeously beautiful dress. That is a real find, the perfect present AND the perfect colour (my favourite!). Can’t help you with the de-fusting/musting dilemma but hope you have a fab birthday tomorrow with absolutely no noise whatsoever!!

  2. Happy Birthday for tomorrow! And I’m *just* a little bit jealous of your dress- it’s absoloutely gorgeous & fits perfectly! Are you at least wearing it out for a special dinner?!

  3. Oooh, this dress is truly stunning…well done on finding it! Fits you like a beautiul glove!!! Have a great day tomorrow – you share the same birthday as my boyfriend ;o) P.S. I love how your photo shoot can change from a beach setting to a snowy one in a number of weeks!

    • It is an amazing fit, I hope my vintage patterns fit me like this when I get around to making one 🙂
      I’m working on a hoodie at the moment and was thinking ‘why am I sewing a hoodie when it’s nearly summer???’ but I’m back in Tasmania in January for a holiday and where the house is it isn’t unusual for it to snow in the middle of summer! No seasonal sewing for me 🙂

  4. happy happy birthday! what a wonderful dress. it fits you like you a glove!
    the sneakers made me laugh so much!! thanks really made my monday morning better! luckily didnt read it at work, or people would have thought i am a bit mad. haha!
    i am glad that you have at least chocolate in form of your dress on your birthday! 😀

  5. *happy sigh* that is one beyoootiful dress. Thankyou so much for sharing it! And it does too look like it’s made for you. Happy Birthday!

    As for the musty smell, steaming it will do that. You know like with a steam-cleaner with a fabric attachment? just hang the dress on a coathanger, and run it all over the whole dress, inside and out if necessary, use tongs to help you hold the dress if need be. As the steam lifts the smell will go, and the fibres plump out a bit and look extra-nice. You can do it with the most delicate of fabrics, like silk or fine polyester, and with beading and so forth. It’s quite magical.
    Used to work in an op-shop and they did that to all the clothes before they put them in the shop. The shop and clothes didn’t have that op-shop musty smell.

    I have no idea if a steam iron run over a few millimetres from the fabric in the same way would work as well, but it would be well worth a try if you don’t have a steam cleaner or access to one.

  6. Hi!! I just discovered your blog and I don’t know why it took me so long 🙂 so HI from another Aussie 😀

    Happy birthday too! And you’re lucky you got some snow while in Tas, there wasn’t any just last week but I guess it’s late in the year. Not that that’s stopped the crazy weather before!

    As for the musty smell – if your dress doesn’t have a taffeta lining, you might be able to get away with giving it a good soak with just plain washing powder. I have heaps of vintage and even rayon can be washed if you do it carefully. Not by machine of course! The only reason taffeta ain’t good for washing is cos it creases so terribly so in that case I just leave it with the drycleaner.
    That said, if you do have access to a steam cleaner like the other commenter mentioned, I’d give that a go first 🙂

    • Hello mate 🙂
      The holiday house is near Great Lake so it’s prone to snow at anytime being an alpine area, although it was particularly cold on the October long weekend!
      I might end up trusting one of our town’s dry cleaners. Funny… I trusted them with my wedding dress but am very precious about this one! LOL

  7. This is a gorgeous dress, it looks like it was made for you! You are very lucky to have such a generous MIL. You look stunning and happy birthday for tomorrow! As for your question, sorry I am no use 😦

  8. lovely dress that looks as if it were made for you. And what’s with this not celebrating birthdays? I think we should celebrate the fact that we’ve defied gravity for another year and all that. Doesn’t have to be a big party but should definitely be acknowledged, IMHO. Also, I think you could wear that dress for a birthday dinner at home. Someone is sure to appreciate the effort! I can’t add anything to the advice regarding getting rid of that musty odour, but I’m inclined to hang a lavender bag inside most of my older dresses. You might try that for an additional bit of pleasant aroma. Cheers – and best wishes for a lovely day tomorrow.

    • Too true! Although my eldest told me (jokingly but still!) that it wasn’t long til a walking stick for me!
      Did you win a Pattern Pyramid today? I recall it was you that won the pile which included the tap dancing pants! Crikey I want to make that outfit (yes I have no purpose for it but a fab blog pic!). However I won the Made By Trisha giveaway last week – hooray!

  9. Clearly Scorpios love to sew is correct – Happy Birthday to you, Lizzy! Now that the entire world knows your birthday you WILL be celebrating from now on. Hope you have a good one 🙂
    PS……. love the lace dress

  10. So I’m reading along, enjoying the coco lace porn wonderfulness and thinking, ‘ooh, I wonder what she paired this with-‘ You got me!!! Well, I appreciate that no fab hoofcovers were damaged in the incliment weather!! Happy Birthday, Lovely!

  11. Oh, oh, oh, that dress! One of my favorite lace colors, and I love the Grace Kelly look- it’s you! Happy Birthday! I would steal the dress, but alas, it would not fit. My waist is a bit bigger than that. How tiny you are! Congratulations on the birthday present. The dress is perfect.

  12. That is SO beautiful & it looks fabulous on you. I found myself wondering what shoes you would wear with that – sneakers are not what I was expecting at all! So the real question is, what shoes are you going to wear with it? Do you have any that will do it justice or is it a perfect excuse to shop for new ones? Happy birthday!

  13. So are we long-lost twins? It’s my birthday tomorrow too 😀
    (Don’t worry – you are at least a decade younger than me, I can tell!)
    Happy birthday! And I love your dress!

  14. happy birthday to you, and congratulations on receiving that stunning dress!
    i’ve found that hanging clothes outside overnight can help freshen them up – especially when it’s cold out.

  15. Happy, happy birthday! I know so many wonderful people born in November, including my husband (21st)! That dress is absolutely stunning! You are correct – it fits you like it was made for you, and the color is very classy.
    I hang musty garments outside on cold, crisp, breezy days to freshen them, Otherwise, search out the best dry-cleaner you can find…

  16. Your new dress is lovely and ironically given its age, right on trend. I would be too scared to wear anything so old for fear of damaging it.

    I think there may be something wrong with me because just a sniff of snow has me reaching for all things wool and down. You must have frozen to death taking those photos even in the massive sneakers!

    Happy Birthday!

  17. Wow, that looks smashing on you! Happy Happy Birthday Lizzy! My hubby’s also Scorpio. I fancy the colour too, it’s not the usual from that decade. Cracks me up to see you hoof round in the hubby’s shoes….I do that all the time. It’s faster to slip them on and off. PS. never tire of the beach, that would be madness but it’s cool to see southern snow too! I’d be tempted to try “Dryel Sheets” if they are available in your area. I’ve used them lots. You put the item in a giant bag that comes in the kit, with the Dryel Pad (also in the kit) and drop it in the dryer. Sounds dangerous but nothings wet, so it doesn’t shrink. It’s the home alternative to dry cleaning. Everything comes out smelling great, fresh and clean, here’s their site.

  18. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Congrats on another lap around the sun. The dress is, well, stunning and the fit is impeccable. Lovely. I just love that misty blush color, always have. You look amazing in it and I love that you’re wearing it with snow in the background…yes, sometimes I do miss that here in Oz!

  19. Wowsers. what an amazing find – I can only dream of having a mother in law like yours! My favourite pic is the one with you wearing the runners 😛 And I’ve give a lot to get a closer look at the innards of this creation! The lace is stunning and the hue is really lovely on you. I can’t help out with the small smell issue, but I really do hope you get plenty of occasions to trot this out of the wardrobe for 🙂

  20. Pingback: Hot Mess Birthday Dress | Sew Busy Lizzy

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