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Patterns

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Miss Page Collection

Who is Miss Page and why is my collection named after her?

The Miss Page Vintage Pattern Collection has something for every aspect of the WWII war years, an Australian Land Army girl overalls, perfect for digging your Victory garden or for a causual weekend vintage look. A sailor trouser suit, very late 1930s and also perfect for the second world war era, perfect for picnics or a day on the harbour. A sweet day dress from the late war years, a great dress for work or play. A seductive 1940s war era evening gown for a night of dance and delight at your favorite dinner and dance venue. A beautifully elegant WWII era wedding gown that is perfect for your wedding day.

So who was Miss Page? Read on to find out more ...

In 2010 , all that was left of the life and work of Violet Florence Page  was contained in a battered old cardboard suitcase and plastic garbage  bags destined for the tip. Peter Staton from Hazelbrook Cottage Antiques  had bought them as part of someone else's deceased estate.

Inside these containers were crumpled, handmade frocks and paper  patterns dating back to the 1920s - 50s. With them were personal papers,  a faded photograph of Violet, and letters written to a young soldier  apparently lost during World War II.

Knowing of her work as a local seamstress and love of vintage and local history, Peter gave everything to Lorna  McKenzie of The Tailor’s Apprentice, and the Miss  Page Collection was born.

Living in Katoomba and Springwood, Miss Page turned her creative hobbies, sewing and painting, into a successful dressmaking business.

Violet Florence Page was born in Sydney's Rockdale in 1910. She designed and made ball and tea gowns and dresses for brides, housewives and babies.

In the 1940s she lived with her beloved dad, Fred Page, in Katoomba, and worked as a waitress at the Paragon cafe. She was paid a pittance, hated the job and found "needed laughter" with other waitresses, Iris and Thelma, with whom she kept up a lifelong friendship.

Her life story has been pieced together from private letters she wrote every Thursday night to Private Kenneth James Grimison, sent to serve in Malaya. Most of them were "returned to sender" by the Australian Defence Force. The letters, funny and frank, were among the salvaged treasures.

Ken Grimison, the soldier to whom Violet signed off every week "with lots of love," was captured by the Japanese with the ill-fated 2/29th battalion Australian 8th Division, upon the fall of Singapore, on February 15, 1942.

As a prisoner of war, Ian Grimison was sent to Changi Jail for more than three and a half "hell" years of tortured and deprivation. He worked on the horrendous Thai-Burma railway before returning to Changi.

Underlining the broken lives caused by war, Violet received this last letter, scribbled in pencil and dated Changi Jail, September 18, 1945.

"Dear Violet: I expect you gave up hope of ever hearing of me again. I received one letter from you after the capitulation written June 1942. It's quite a dream for us to have our freedom back again.
Being cut off from the outside world for over three and a half years, all we know as yet [is] the war is over and freedom has come to us at last. I have lost a lot of weight, 3 stone in two months. The Thailand-Burma railway was a bad show.
“Feeling okay apart from a touch of beri-beri . Malaria I had 29 times. The Nips are working for us now. If they work for 20 years it won't repay what we were made to do for them. We expect to be sailing home very soon.
PS. You've probably forgotten who I am by now."

Ian returned to his home town of Deniliquin, NSW, where he built a transport business. His sister, Molly McDonnell, who turned 92 when this story came to light, says Ken had hoped to marry a girl from Katoomba on his return. She wasn't at the dockside when he arrived. He believed she had married someone else. "He was heartbroken."
He later married a local girl and had two sons and a daughter. He died in 1989.
His sister says this romantic story coming to light after 70 years is "a great joy. I'm so glad to have lived to see this day."

***

In recognition and celebration of a simple life well lived, Lorna McKenzie, The Tailor's Apprentice offers you the Miss Page 1940s Pattern Collection.
Gowns developed from surviving pieces found amongst the remnants of Miss Violet Florence Page’s life and work. Affordable, elegant, and unique 1940s vintage patterns.


I'm still collecting information on Miss Page and if you have any information about her, perhaps a gown, or photos that you’d like to pass onto the Miss Page collection for future display please contact me.