Thelma Gillian Scarves

You can’t argue with the dress


Picture 1 of 1


It began with her niece’s wedding. March in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was just welcoming spring when the cold wind whispered for something over the shoulders. Of course, such a lovely silk devore dress, a mixture of satin and chiffon, in an uncommon mix of green and bright fuschia couldn’t simply settle. Don’t even suggest the all too masculine solution of buying one from a store.

That was “ground zero” as owner Thelma Winroe described. She had taken her first step to establishing Thelma Gillian Scarves. “That was fun,” thought Thelma. “Why don’t I do another one?”

“It had to be a fabric that went with the dress. Not just colour. It had to be the right weight. You couldn’t argue with the dress.”

No doubt, Thelma brought her distinct eye for detail when it comes to designing scarves. Having been a high school language teacher, she now designs scarves adept at both hand and machine sewing. Her venture after retirement allows her to express her creativity through scarves of heliographic, eco, and indigo dyes. Felted designs and commercially printed fabrics are also included in her product range.


“You couldn’t argue with the dress”


The biggest challenge of making heliographic scarves are that they’re dependent on the weather. They’re made by basking in sunlight. Sunny days are ideal with no clouds, shadows, or wind. It’s worth the challenge as the results are one-offs with each one unique. Picture a wide range of vibrant colours with designs of gum leaves, cockatoo feathers, twigs, gum nuts, and gingko balboa leaves imprinted. it takes the line “made in Australia” even further to “made in Canberra” and very popular with tourists.

The eco dyes on silk scarves are also each made individually. Thelma uses ingredients that are natural and local from her garden, her kitchen, and the local parks. She recalls using green walnuts found at a park last December that have been half-eaten by kangaroos. Purple carrots and onion skins are also very useful, as are gum leaves, bark, and avocado seeds.

Lastly, her line of indigo dyes are applied on silk, cotton, and wool scarves. This was inspired by her recent trip to Japan where she participated in a textile tour involving workshops on indigo and shibori techniques. Specialists shops were needed to buy the supplies, and visits to museums and studios that exhibited stunning works of art provided further inspiration.


“Because it’s abstract painting, not printing, it’s always going to be different”


Whether it’s preparation for ordering, measuring, cutting, or handling, Thelma makes sure to invest in her designs everyday. Timeframes are flexible with each piece requiring different measures of time.

Since her niece’s wedding, Thelma has traded at the Old Bus Depot Markets for 14 years. Her line of scarves are regularly displayed across her double-stall. She had been coming occasionally since 2004 still taking care of her young boys, and since 2012 she has been coming regularly.

When asked what we can expect from her on the Creative Fibre event this 8 July, she said to expect her unique line of scarves with each one being different from the other. “Because it’s abstract painting, not printing, it’s always going to be different. It can’t help but be different,” says Thelma. 

Thelma herself is a fan of the stalls at the markets. Through the years, she’s bought art, jewellery and clothing. She often buys cheeses, eggs, and patisseries too. Her sure-favourite is a freshly baked loaf of feta and spinach from Dom’s Bread. 

Visit Thelma Gillian Scarves solely at The Old Bus Depot Markets on Sundays and particularly on this year’s Creative Fibre on 8 July, 2018.


For more on Canberra’s award-winning Sunday markets, follow us on Facebook @Oldbusdepotmarkets.