Olive was grandmother and great grandmother to Lynette and Lauren. Olive performed her first concerto at 5 years, playing both piano and violin. Her love of the arts began early in her life. She was an artist and later became a seamstress after her initial teaching by the nuns at school in Sydney’s Newtown. Jumping to the 1940’s, Olive was the designer and seamstress at Marjorie Daw baby clothes wear, located in Sydney’s Imperial Arcade. After her formal schooling Olive was offered an Art Scholarship but her parents declined as a seamstress career was a more reliable career path.
Extending her skills from baby and children's wear, Olive moved to Ways department store to work in home furnishings. In the 1950’s Rene’s of Sydney’s Strand Arcade approached Olive join them and become Sydney’s first female interior designer. This was an opportunity that Olive was keen to pursue. She offered advice on home furnishings, working with customers bringing in their room measurements to discuss fabrics, colours and calculate textile meterage. She transformed measurements into cushions, bedspreads, upholstery and soft furnishings.
From Lynette’s early childhood, she recalls on occasion ‘going to town’ to have lunch with her grandmother at the David Jones cafeteria. She remembers waiting for Olive while the customers spoke to her at Rene’s. Olive knew all the quirky little shops in the tiny backstreets of Sydney. Lynette recalls one day going into a cobblers and the owner spoke to Olive by name. The shop was so tiny and long only one person could go in and out at a time. This day Olive was picking up a pair of hand made shoes that had been covered in fabric to match a dress she had sewn. She even had her own shoe last at the shop. There were also lace shops and bead shops and all sorts of trim shops, it was always exciting!
Olive never really retired. She sewed well into her nineties and even painted when she was almost blind. Olive re-married in 1973 and Lynette was her bridesmaid. For the next 10 years Olive was able to accompany her new husband on business trips to India. Whilst he worked, Olive pursued the Silk Road and many textile factories. Every trip would see a suit case arrive home full of exquisite silks, embroidered pieces and many many stories.
Olive imparted much of her knowledge on to Lynette from her early childhood. In the 1970’s Lynette spent the afternoons of her high school years in the atelier of René’s Home Furnishings in Hurstville. She picked up pins, swept and played with fabric off cuts as Olive spoke to customers and sewed.
Lynette’s passion for sewing emerged from 5 years of age when she drew a picture of a pinafore style dress for her teddy bear, knitted it in yellow mohair, then stitched together with a bodkin. This for Lynette became the norm and a huge part of her life and is still knitting for family members. At 16, Lynette was offered a scholarship to Alexander Mackey College (COFA, now UNSW Art + Design), but was not able to accept.
To pursue her passion, Lynette embarked on a TAFE College journey that spanned 13 years attaining beyond the equivalent of 14 Certificate IV’s. She was now a dressmaker, pattern maker and interior designer specialising in Fashion Design Principles, colour, stretch wear, children wear and more. Her career path however was completely unrelated, working for international airlines at Sydney Airport. In 1986 Lynette fell over the most exquisite quilt in the window of a little shop in Hurstville. At that point, her English Paper Piecing addiction started and her stitching would never be the same.
2021 sees Lynette continuing in online courses with the Royal School of Needlework, The International Centre of Excellence for the Art of Hand Embroidery (est. 1872). Whilst Lynette won’t be attending the Hampton Court Palace in London anytime soon, she is however looking forward to seeing you at a class in the near future where she can share her new skills.
Lynette and Lauren are the proud family owners of Olive Avenue and write patterns with a difference under the brand ‘Patterns by Marjorie Daw”.