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Clothing Workbook

The Tinonee Museum has in its collection a workbook containing 21 hand drawn sketches of clothing, 23 tissue paper scale models of each sketch and eleven needlework samples.

On each page of sketches the heading is written in calligraphy and the needlework samples illustrate the sewing techniques used in garment construction, continuous placket, skirt placket, bias facing, extension facing, mitred corner, piping on seam and on edge, pin tucks material gathered on to band, bound buttonholes, buttons and buttonholes.

This workbook was used by Ruby Norma [known as Norma] Gollan nee George [1920 to 2011].

Ruby Norma George was born in Tinonee, a village where she lived throughout her life.

The George family were pioneers of Tinonee, her father ran the town’s butcher shop for many years.

Norma was a talented child and she attended Tinonee Public School. It was at school where Norma learned calligraphy.

Norma also performed in plays and sang in concerts. To further these pursuits, Norma’s father would take her to Taree each Saturday for music lessons.

Norma’s other favourite pastimes were walking, swimming in the Manning River, fishing from the riverbank and playing A Grade tennis.

In 1941 Norma married Jack Gollan, the grandson of the founder of boat building in Tinonee, Captain Hector Gollan.

Norma was active in the local community throughout her life. These roles included:

  • Teaching Sunday School at St Luke’s Anglican Church;
  • President of St Luke’s Anglican Church Ladies Auxiliary;
  • Supporting Tinonee Memorial School of Arts Hall – a property she lived beside for many years;
  • Steward of flower shows and fetes;
  • Member of Tinonee Red Cross – becoming patron in 1996.
  • Secretary of Tinonee P&C Association.

In 1946 Norma attended Taree Technical College for dressmaking classes. Norma wished to learn to sew professionally and make a living from dressmaking.

Norma’s daughter, Margaret, recalls her mother taking her, and her sister Judith, to these classes, where they entertained each other by playing under the table.

Norma made her daughters clothes until they began working.

Pattern workbooks, like the one at the Tinonee Museum, were created during the TAFE course and were used to confirm the students had fulfilled the course requirements. The pattern workbooks contained a hand drawn sketch of the item to be made and a scale tissue paper model.

Pattern workbooks were not just a requirement of the TAFE course. Mary McDonald of Taree completed her Leaving Certificate [1929 to 1932] and remembered that students were also required to draw and construct tissue paper scale models of garments to meet the Leaving Certificate requirements for “Dressmaking”.

Additional Information:

The Taree Technical College opened in 1938 with classes being held at night at Taree High School. The Taree Technical College officially opened in 1941.

In 1946 the Department of Technical Education advised that a full time teacher in Dressmaking would commence in Taree.

There is a long history of teaching sewing and dressmaking skills to country women at Technical Colleges in NSW. The first classes in dressmaking started when Bathurst Technical College opened in 1885. Bathurst was followed by Newcastle in 1887, and Ultimo [Sydney] in 1889.

By 1900, the sewing and dressmaking section had its own identity and became known as the Department of Women’s Handicrafts.

By 1911 dressmaking was taught in 76 country towns an in 1934 the dressmaking course was extended to become a qualification requiring 3 to 4 years of education. The qualification was called the “Certificate in Women’s Handicrafts”.

In the mid 1950’s shorter, more focused, and more practical unit courses were introduced.


In 1959 F M Mitchell wrote:

“Home Sewing is the most feminine of all the arts and crafts. It is an easy way, as well as a basic way, for a woman to add to her femininity, whether she sews for herself, her children or her home.

The woman who sews can be creative, make herself and members of her family attractive and also stretch the family clothing budget.”

Norma Gollan’s workbook is a reminder of her creativity and her desire to become a professional dressmaker.