Blast from the past: 1991 grad collection

1991 grad parade collection sketches

While digging around in the shed in last month’s cleanup, I found a box containing some of the pieces from my graduation collection from fashion college. I was 18-nearly-19 when I graduated with an “Advanced Certificate in Pattern Technology” and my three-piece collection was called Cycle into Streetwear.

The header picture in this blog post is the sketch that appeared in the souvenir booklet at our graduation (I’ve since scanned it and coloured it in). The skirt and coat were in satin, and the other pieces including the bags were nylon lycra.

As this blog is here to educate and entertain, I thought it would be fun to give you a show and tell.

1991 grad parade spotty catsuit
This is the spotty catsuit (back view) – just look at that pattern matching!
The fabric has deteriorated badly and all the lycra pieces are too fragile to try on.
1991 grad parade yellow and spotty 1 pce
The yellow-and-spotty one piece. Again, the fabric has perished and is very fragile.
1991 grad parade navy wrap skirt
Here’s the satin skirt that went with the one-piece. It has a very small waist!
1991 grad parade bag
The bags were in there, still stuffed with tissue paper.
1991 grad parade white headbands
After the parade’s rehearsal (which the students didn’t go to), my teacher suggested the models wear white headbands, so I quickly sewed some up. They were in the box too, still with make-up on them.

There was also supposed to be yellow footed tights and a navy short sleeved top, but I didn’t see them in there.

The yellow satin swing coat is the only piece I can model for you.

Taking these photos, I found I couldn’t stop smiling! Whether it was the happy colour, the memories or just the incredible shoulder pads I can’t say!

1991 grad parade yellow swing coat front
1991 grad parade yellow swing coat back view
1991 grad parade yellow swing coat front close up
1991 grad parade yellow swing coat shoulder pad
1991 grad parade yellow swing coat back stay
The swing coat has a back stay on the inside – it’s made of stiff woven interfacing covered with satin.
I see I used all French seams.
1991 grad parade yellow swing coat shoulder pad
Just look at those shoulder pads!
While I was sewing the yellow satin coat (at my parent’s dining table) I had the shoulder pads lying around because, as you know, they get put in last.
Dad happened to walk past and casually noticed the huge raglan shoulder pads.
He picked one up and commented: Who’s been playing cricket? (For those in non-cricket countries, he’s referring to these.)

Fashion parades are expensive; our class fund raised for months delivering phone books for Telecom, spending weekends walking along the street next to a trailer of phone books and tossing them into driveways.

I remember the night of the fashion parade. I sat in the audience with my parents, feeling so nervous I couldn’t talk. I watched everyone else’s garments being paraded with a tight, tense feeling in my tummy. Suddenly mine came on in a swish of yellow satin and audience cheers and all my anxious notions evaporated!

Unfortunately, not one photo exists of the garments at the fashion parade. I didn’t own a camera and in those pre-internet, pre-mobile phone days we didn’t take photos of everything. However, I remembered that the parade had been video taped. Our college kept the videos in their library and you could view them if you wanted to (our teacher had shown us the previous year’s parade so we could get an idea of how it would go).

The college has since closed, but what happened to their library and archive?

I thought it might have been transferred to Adelaide TAFE college which now runs fashion studies. I phoned their library to ask and the librarian said: What year? 1991? That’s a long way back!…not sure if we have that far back…just checking the catalogue now…no, not here, but there’s another librarian here who specializes in fashion who might know – I’ll get her to check and call you back.

The fashion librarian called, and said that the library didn’t have the tapes in their archive, but one of the teachers who’d been at the previous campus had some of the grad parades (still on VHS video tape?). Unfortunately he only has 1989, 1990 and 1992! Gah! But if 1991 turns up they’ll give me a call.



  1. Wendy on April 12, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    Wonderful! So nice that the coat still has that swish-factor. The longevity of Lycra has been tested but I think your design and fabric choice is not dissimilar to the recent spotty swimwear you made/ showed on Insta – Cycle into Swimwear!

    • lizhaywood on April 12, 2021 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks Wendy – I see I’ve always had a weakness for spots 🙂

  2. Del on April 13, 2021 at 12:13 am

    What a fabulous project that would still be a hit today… maybe minus those shoulder pads. Lol! (I remember using those, and how hot they were in humid summer weather.)

    • Judith Odgers on April 13, 2021 at 1:06 pm

      What a fabulous story. I loved reading this. Mobile phone cameras really would have been useful back then.

      • lizhaywood on April 13, 2021 at 6:13 pm

        Yes, if only!!!

    • lizhaywood on April 13, 2021 at 6:16 pm

      Thanks Del 🙂 You would recall that shoulder pads were in everything, even t-shirts. I remember putting on a top, then a jacket, then a coat and experiencing “shoulder pad build-up”!!

  3. Michelle Cahill on April 13, 2021 at 5:44 am

    That bag is awesome! You were ahead of your time:)

    • lizhaywood on April 13, 2021 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks Michelle:) I’d forgotten about the bags until I found them but (if I can say without tooting my own horn too much) I thought Past Me had some cute ideas.

  4. Mary E Warner on April 13, 2021 at 6:16 am

    What a great set of outfits, Liz! It is so fun to run across things I made when I was younger. I almost have the feeling of “I made that?” disbelief.

    • lizhaywood on April 13, 2021 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks Mary, yes it is really fun. So glad I kept things like this. I had a “cool Mum moment” when my children saw it.

  5. Karen on April 13, 2021 at 7:50 am

    Very impressive pattern matching! Love your jacket with the shoulder pads…so very 1980s/early 1990s! This brought back some memories of outfits I wore around that time

    • lizhaywood on April 13, 2021 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks Karen. Yes, those big rounded shoulder pads were THE look of the time!

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