Blacker Twins' purple blouses

Contributed by: Quirindi and District Historical Society

Blouse One Blouse Two Two blouses Detail Blouse One Detail Blouse Two Insert alteration to Blouse One Blouse fastenings at centre back Internal boning detail Emily Blacker Roseanna Blacker
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Object information

Significance statement

Historic, aesthetic and social significance because of the rarity of a pair of garments worn by twins. The different trimmings on the blouses indicates that the women were conscious of a need to tell them apart. They are associated with a family with a long connection with the Quirindi district with descendants who are still in the Quirindi community. These attractive blouses were for fashionable occasions. The embroidered floral trim shows it was for special occasions and not for every day use. The alteration of one of the blouses indicates it was worn over many years. We assume this blouse was worn by Emily, the last of the twins to die.

The blouses are made of a purple/brown velvet with an embroidered floral trim around the neck, down the front and around the cuffs. There are hooks and eyes at the back on both the outer and inner garments. They both have a stand-up collar.

The lining is a grey cotton lining with bones in the back for shape. The lining is separate.

Also in our possession is a broderie anglaise petticoat made for one of the twins, but never worn.

Emily was a very good artist and painted emu eggs some of which are on display in our Museum.

Author: Quirindi and District Historical Society inc., 19th March 2010.


Waist length back- opening purple velvet blouses, decorated with appliqued strips on neck and front. Blouse one has looser cuffs, two rows of applique down front, collar slightly lower. Blouse two has strip on left side only, as well as around cuffs and high collar.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Parents of the twins were James Blacker and wife Anne who travelled from Ireland 1845. The twins, Emily and Roseanna, were born 1860 Windsor NSW. Roseanna died 1913 and Emily died 1938 both at Yarraman. On the death of Emily, the property of Yarraman Vale passed to Mrs Ivy May Pengilley, the daughter of the twins' sister Elizabeth.

Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?

Roseanne and Emily Blacker were born in the Windsor district in 1860, and moved with their family to the Quirindi district when their father James selected land at Yarraman in 1866. Their father and mother, Anne, had come from Ireland. Neither sister married. Roseanne died in 1913 and Emily died in 1938. The Pengilley connection is through Roseanne and Emily's sister Elizabeth whose daughter Ivy married Reg Pengilley, who still farms in the district.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

These blouses are typical of rural fashions in the late 19th century, and indicative of fashions in the Quirindi district. They were probably worn on special occasions such as church or visiting, during the cooler months.

Where did this information come from?

Pengilley family history.

This garment has been exhibited

  1. Place of origin:

    Quirindi, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:

  3. Owned by:

    Twin sisters, Roseanne and Emily Blacker.

  4. Worn by:

    Roseanne and Emily Blacker.

  5. Occasion(s):

    Special occasions e.g. church, visiting.

  6. Place:

    Quirindi, New South Wales

  7. Designed by:

  8. Made by:

    Home made by wearers or other family members.

  9. Made for:

Trimmings / Decoration


Applique embroidered strips

Fibre / Weave

Purple velvet

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Separate lining to outer garment on both.



Blouse 2: Front gusset has been let out.

Stiffening whalebone removed

  1. Hand sewn
  2. Machine sewn
  3. Knitted
  4. Other


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


23 separate hooks and eyes

  1. Hook and eye
  2. Lacing
  3. Buttons
  4. Zip
  5. Drawstring

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

Seven pieces of whalebone are used in bodice Blouse one.


blouse Second Blouse
Neck 320 mm 340 mm
Chest 860 mm 920 mm
Waist 640 mm 790 mm
Cuff 200 mm 200 mm
Front neck to hem 490 mm 520 mm
Sleeve length 600 mm
Neck to sleeve head 120 mm
Convert to inches

Blouse one - Blouse with two embroidered strips on front.

Blouse two - Blouse with one embroidered strip on front.

Dress Themes

Sunday best wear in winter

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

Two photographs of the twins from the family album.

The Pengilley family have donated many items plus an oral history of the family, recorded in the 1970s.

Pages from "Journal of Quirindi & District Historical Society Historical Notes Vol ll, No. 2 1971" have records of Blacker & Pengilley families.

Other related objects

Museum collection also has hand made broderie anglaise petticoat made for a ball by one of the twins and never worn.


Some fraying around blouse with trimming.

Small amount of fading on both blouses.

Evidence of repairs

Blouse two has been let out so the wearer could continue wearing it over a longer period.

Insect damage


Mould damage



  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Poor


  1. Discolouration
  2. Fading
  3. Frayed
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