Living a Fairy Tale Life in 1986



Mavis Taylor

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

SEWING ADVENTURES - Living a “Fairy-Tale” Life in 1986 - Mavis Taylor
Definition: resembling a fairy tale, especially in being extremely happy or fortunate.
Inspired by novel “Not Only In Stone” by Phyllis Somerville.

Polly Thomas arrives in Adelaide South Australia in 1865 with her sister Ellen, husband Nathan and baby son Richard, born on the 106 day voyage from Plymouth UK. Settling in Yorke Peninsular where copper mining was the attraction. During her life Polly had four children, only two survived, and Nathan became an invalid, her life savings stolen. Polly a milliner approaches the owner of an Adelaide Warehouse to supply materials for bonnets, on trust, and opens “Polly’s Bonnet Shop” in Moonta to survive.

I arrived in Adelaide in 1966 after a 32 hour flight from London and 12 hour transfer from Darwin with my husband and 18 month old son. After a few initial setbacks we soon settled in our own home had a family of three children and became part of a young community. Adelaide’s Christmas Pageant each November was a must see event, watching the floats travel by I dream't of being part of the team to bring such a magical event to the city. This dream was fulfilled when I became aware the two positions of Dressmaker had become vacant. In 1983 I began my ‘Fairy Tale Life’ as Pageant Wardrobe Dressmaker. In 1986 'South Australia’s Jubilee Year' we were to include a float depicting the year of 1836.

Outline the construction…

1986 Adelaide’s Jubilee Year – Everyone is encouraged to participate in Events and Activities around our State of South Australia. My colleague and I enrolled in classes to construct 1836 garments and bonnets at our local college. PATTERNS AND METHOD RESOURCE: 'Making Costumes of the Eighteen Thirties' Volumes 1 & 3 by Brian Reader July 1985 Produced with The Jubilee 150 Board of South Australia.

Main Fabric – Polyester (Chosen for colour and feel of light weight silk.).
Lining – Poly cotton.
Shapewell interfacing – Sleeves and hem.
Riglene Boning – Bodice Hook & Eye closure – Bodice Back.
Petersham Tape – Waist Band.
String – Piping.
DETAILS Boning to Bodice Lining at all seams and darts to under bust Centre Back Closure.
Piping to Bodice Seams, neck line, waist line and arm scythe.
Bound arm scythe.
Cartridge pleating to Lined Sleeve-head Hand sewn into Bodice Sleeve finished with Piped Cuffs Hook fastening.
Cartridge Pleating to Lined Skirt from centre back to side seam, knife pleats toward centre front.
Skirt hand stitch to base of waist band.
Skirt hand stitched to bodice side panel at base of waistband and upper edge of waistband tacked to front bodice lining between darts.
CHEMISETTE: Cotton Lawn and Lace Insertion of Pleats and Lace Cut at 45%.
Bound and gathered lace at neckline.
BONNET: Outer Fabric – Polyester as Dress over Buckram Shape, wired edge.
Lining - Poly Cotton as Dress.
Brim & Decorative Bows & Piping - Cream Taffeta.




  1. Avatar Emma Wayne on March 12, 2021 at 4:12 am

    It shows you out a lot of effort and love into this ensemble, something to be proud of. Thank you for sharing it and the detail!

    • Avatar Mavis Taylor on March 14, 2021 at 11:31 am

      Thank you Emma for your comment. I do love sewing.

  2. Avatar Mandy Pursley on March 14, 2021 at 2:57 am

    The whole ensemble is lovely, but that bonnet is sheer perfection! Very well done!

    • Avatar Mavis Taylor on March 14, 2021 at 11:32 am

      Thank you for your comment Mandy.

  3. Avatar JAYE SUDAR on March 14, 2021 at 4:53 am

    Beautiful work. That hat, and all those pleats!

    • Avatar Mavis Taylor on March 14, 2021 at 11:34 am

      The pleats were a challenge Thank you Jaye.

  4. Avatar Carly Van Groeningen on March 19, 2021 at 10:55 am

    Gorgeous work, I especially love the bonnet!

  5. Avatar Maeri Certo on March 19, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Fantastic work on the construction!

  6. Avatar Stephanie Murison on March 24, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    The details of this dress are lovely, the pleats and those smooth curved seams, and fabric is such a gorgeous shade of blue! Good choice! I also love the personal connection that you have with the story, it was a joy to read!

  7. Avatar Kikkii von Fustian on March 27, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    It’s so beautiful, well done! I want that bonnet in every color<3

  8. Avatar Sue (sue-mcfluzen) Assenmacher on March 29, 2021 at 5:52 am


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