Possum Land dress

This dress is made from some fabric that Archie bought me when he had a holiday in Darwin a few weeks before we did. Imagine my surprise when he produced it, like a rabbit out of a hat, upon his return home!

And imagine my extreme fear of cutting into this precious fabric. I was quite surprised that he chose something so colourful and striking. He liked the fact that it has the Northern Territory colours of black, white and orange, and I think he liked the story behind the fabric. It’s by Heather Kennedy and is called Possum Land and Water Dreaming. This is the description which came with the fabric.

I previously likened the fabric to rock art, but knew I was stretching the truth a bit, I do like the symbolism of the possum and water, as, of course, we have our own little possum family living wild at our holiday place.

I first wore it out for coffee and I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this dress.

It doesn’t usually happen a lot to me, but everywhere I wore it I got comments. People were asking me where I had got it; all sorts of people, including a couple of young girls, which gave me lots of pleasure!

I wanted to show the women at the shop, who Archie said were really lovely to him. Unfortunately they weren’t there when I went for a visit, but I did find another piece of souvenir fabric to buy (just the one piece). I was deeply attracted to that bright green you can see on the shelf, but went for the more muted shade I have in my hands. The shop is called Paperbark Woman and is dedicated to Aboriginal fabric. The quality is excellent and there are some fabulous designs.

However, I did return to the shop on another day and had a lovely time with the lady who worked there. The only photo I got was of me wrangling her baby, who was rather delightful and very smiley.

The dress was duly admired and the conversation was all about what a good job “they’d” done in making it. It took me a minute to say that in fact I had made it, and she was quite surprised. I didn’t want to think about why this was so surprising. I then got the inevitable question about whether I would make for others…

I auditioned all sorts of patterns but decided that I didn’t want to break up the design, so in the end I used the Pattern Union Cora blouse pattern with quite a few tweaks. I made a minor modification to the neckline and drafted a facing which I sewed down in the style of the Lotta Jansdotter Esme dress. I did try to pattern match the side seams but it was really tricky, and not hugely successful, but actually not at all noticeable.

This is not just a close up of the beautiful fabric, but is also me trying to show my pocket. I hand stitched it on so that it would be completely invisible and it just about is!

Here it is. I could only find a spoon to stick in it!

You can just see the edges of the pocket. I’m still pretty happy with it though.

I wore the dress into Litchfield National Park which was slightly risky, but I managed to keep it clean. Trying to show the size of this magnetic termite mound. The mounds rise to as much as three meters in height, look relatively flat and they all face the same direction with their thinner edges facing the north and south like the needle of a compass. This keeps them cool for the termites and other creatures that make their homes in them.

The apartment block where we were staying had a rooftop bar where we could go and watch the sunset. This is the same view as we had from our apartment.

But around the corner the sunset was lovely.

Our Darwin odyssey is coming to an end. We’ve had a wonderful time and even run into one of our holiday house neighbours, which was quite amazing and it was lovely to catch up with her.

I have a couple more blog posts to write on the holiday, so you haven’t heard the end of it yet.


17 thoughts on “Possum Land dress

  1. Wouw Sue, the dress looks really great. I like such fabric patterns.
    I would wear it too, but I need the thick, warm clothes here now.
    And a spoon in your pocket? Maybe a new jewelry trend? 😉
    Continue to have nice days for you and thank you for your travelogue.

    1. thank you Regina, I couldn’t find anything that would show my pocket so I thought a spoon could be my new pocket friend!! Thank you for reading!

  2. I’m so happy our travels together aren’t over yet! I have so enjoyed these blog posts! There is an upscale fabric store in Portland, OR that sells Australian Aboriginal fabric. You inspired me to place a small order (I’m trying to use up my existing stash,) for something special. I can see why your dress garnered so many compliments. It’s quite lovely.

    1. Thank you so much Kristen. How fabulous that you can get our treasured and special fabric in Oregon! I nearly went there to do my PhD (have I told you this?) but found I was having a baby so that never eventuated. Bit sad really!

      1. I didn’t know that! What was your field of study? I will post a photo of the wonderful fabric I got the other day, along with the information about the artist. It is beautiful and features kingfishers.

      2. It was late 1980s and I was doing a train the trainer study with Boeing. I am really disappointed I didn’t get to play among their planes!

  3. Archie has exquisite taste in fabric. Lovely Cora, and I hope you showed the secret pocket off in the shop. I’m so enjoying your journey!

    1. thank you so much! I did show off my secret pocket in the shop, and it was duly admired – very gratifying! I’m so pleased you are enjoying our trip.

  4. Delighted to see you’ve sewn some Aboriginal fabric! Am a bit familiar with the design ethos (have a NSW friend 😉) and find it fascinating and beautiful. Your dress is glorious!

  5. Love, love the print Archie bought you and I haven’t see that shop. Trust you to find it.

    Just a note about the possum clothing – I bit they never knitted possum socks!!!

  6. Hi Sue, that is such a fabulous dress. The fabric is just exquisite, I don’t know how else to describe it. I’ve loved aboriginal designs ever since my daughter did a project on them for her A levels. Your holiday sounds lovely. We have still not been away, for more than just Covid reasons, and it’s beginning to tell. I’d love to be somewhere sunny. I’m not looking forward to winter and the weather is already cold in the UK. We didn’t have much of a summer either 🙁 . Wishing you all the best. Trish S

    1. thank you so much Trish. Aboriginal art is really special in my view – not just the colours and form but the stories it tells. This is our first holiday since 2019 so we really enjoyed it. We’ve had a chilly winter (not like yours), and it was so nice to feel some warmth.

  7. Wow! Love the fabric and perfect choice of pattern. Thanks for the pictures of the spoonin the pocket, otherwise i did nor see the pocket. Lovely absolutely lovely.

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