Hot! The “Little bit of Horrockses” Dickie

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: $10This 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! There was a lot piecing together to make this Dickie – you can see the seams in random places. It really turned out to be a nightmare.

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 to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

When The Queen toured New Zealand in 1953-4 she wore a number of Horrockses dresses. My mum bought one in a tulip print 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? I had never attempted a wing collar before. Fiddly but good I think. You could have lots of fun with stripes and a wing collar. That sounds incredibly nerdy.

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!).

Sorry it’s on the mannequin – it was one of those weeks and I hate my new haircut! Lots more photos on my blog.



Trish lives in Sydney and has way more thrifted patterns and fabric than her fair share. She studied fashion design in her former life and sews while trying to not to burn the dinner.


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  1. Very cute! Love the fabric. :-) (And I now have to go and trawl through the Te Papa archives!)

    • Thanks Kat, I didn’t stay long. I couldent Pin it and embed it easily – they want you to buy the image. What I want to know is how come they never have any decent New Zealand Artist’s prints for me to buy when I visit the Musuem shop. All you can seem to get easily in NZ are ****** Monets and Van Goghs – disapointing!

  2. It’s awesome Trish, suits your cardi to a T. Nice job on the wing collar too. Your 50’s wardrobe is coming together just nicely. Flight of the Conchords? too funny.

  3. Thanks Kazz – getting there slowly. I bet you love the Queen.

  4. Great choice! I actually remember that dress for working at Te Papa, and how much I WANTED that fabric. Lucky you for finding even a tiny bit of it! And wonderful way to make it work for you.

    It’s fantastic that Te Papa are getting so much of their collection up online. You can’t display fabrics for a long time because the light degrades it, but the catalogue is making it available.

    • Thanks Leimomi,I now have teeny tiny scraps left over which I can’t bear to throw away – what the heck am I ever going to do with them – make earrings?!

      And whoops! I had better put it out of the light right away! It’s on display in the living room on Phyllis Elizabeth – the mannequin!

      • Trish, you have just sent me on a trip down memory lane – fabric earrings were all the rage when I was in my early teens, and I mean all the rage, they were expensive and coveted and a complete status symbol. I have tracked down a half decent pic ( of the most popular model, but there were other options (

        But back to Horrockses, the dickie looks lovely and I love how you matched the different pieces, the collar looks so clever and pretty! There isn’t a single colour in the print I do not like on its own and they work well together!

        Horrockses designed their frocks in London but their mill was in Preston, Lancashire, the first place I lived after moving to the UK ten years ago. There is so much heritage of the textile industry around here that deserves much more attention!

  5. Hi Trish, so cool, I never heard about these kind of dress, can’t wait to try and find the book to read – Horrockses Fashions by Christine Boydell. YOu’ll have to shoot some photos of you wearing it so I can get the full effect, but I think it’s fantastic.

  6. Cute! Great job on the collar. Love the Flight of the Conchords!

  7. Very cute! Te Papa was one of the museums we case-studied in grad school! Very cool inspiration and fantastic execution!

  8. What a clever way to use that fabric. I like it paired with the sweater. Is this the part where I say I’m the Hiphopopotamus?

  9. I’m not crying, it’s raining on my face – thanks ladies.

  10. Love that fabric! What a great way to use a small piece of very special fabric! I have new plans now for a few favorite but very small treasured fabrics. (Your hair will grow, don’t worry)

    • Thanks Barbara, can’t wait to see your treasured fabrics come to life. Thanks, am feeling better about the hair – it’s been nearly a week :)

  11. Although I like the dress in Te Papa, I like this colouring better (ie. the purple and pinky peach as opposed to the pink and blue) and the thing I love most about this is the zigzag contrast stitching. I love that you have done something to fit in with one of the Queen’s tours. You won’t be surprised to hear I’ve been watching quite a few of the programmes aired in the UK about the Queen’s time on the throne and I think the most interesting one showed film of her on all her royal tours. I’m so impressed she travelled all the way out to New Zealand, Australian and all the other islands on the other side of the world, and LOVE seeing her watching native dancing and customs everywhere she went.

  12. What a great use of such limited fabric. It looks fantastic!

  13. So beautiful! Love that collar. Interesting to hear about your inspiration, none of which was known to me, other than Flight of the Conchords. No funny line is coming to mind, unfortunately.