Miss Vere Chamberlain's day dress

Contributed by: Armidale Folk Museum

Skirt front Skirt back Receipt for sewing machine possibly used to manufacture the garment Funeral notice from the Armidale Express from 21.7.89
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Armidale Folk Museum
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

    1898 - 1902
  • Place of origin:

    Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

This is a good example of an outfit worn by a comfortably off working class family in regional Australia - the Chamberlain's owned their own house in Armidale - and can give us an insight into life in Armidale in the late 19th century. The use of wool in this garment is a good indication of how cold Armidale winters could get. The dress is smart styled and may have been Vere's 'Sunday Best' (the clothes she would have worn to church), but the fact that it was home made is clear when the inside of the dress is examined. The dual nature of this dress (smart on the outisde and workmanlike on the inside) shows the importance of appearance for working class people in the 19th century.

Author: This entry was compiled as a group effort, 30th March 2010.


The outift consists of a grey blue woollen bodice, skirt and belt, that would have originally been mauve.

The bodice has a stand collar and fastens at one side of a central blue grey silk panel with hooks and eyes. The panel has horizontal ruching and vertical pintucks sewn by hand. Fancy grey ric rac braid trims the collar and cuffs. The back has a silk yoke with hand stitched pintucks and vertical wool pleats are sewn by machine, also on the cuffs of the leg of mutton sleeves. They fasten with hooks and eyes. There are few tacking stitches left in one side seam indicating this was probably home made.

The eight gored woollen skirt fastens at the left front waist with a hook and worked eye on the petersham waistband. The skirt has a placket opening. The front panel is decorated with matching braid in floral motif. The back has an additional piece of fabric added to widen the centre panel at the hem. The widest panel is 460mm. It is lined with cotton sateen.

The grey/mauve silk belt is stiffened and shaped to a point at the centre front where it is also stiffened with whalebones. It fastens with hooks and eyes.

History and Provenance

  1. Place of origin:

    Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Cost:

    A receipt has been found that could relate to the sewing machine used to manufacture the dress. The receipt is made out to Mrs Chamberlain for a sewing machine costing five pounds and five shillings.

  3. Owned by:

    Miss Vere Chamberlain 1898-19/7/1989 who lived at 'Richmond', 63 Barney St Armidale

  4. Worn by:

    Vere Chamberlain

  5. Made by:

    Home made (evidenced by the tacking stitches still in place and some uneven and unfinished sleeves), possibly by her mother or a member of the family.

  6. Made for:

    Vere Chamberlain

Trimmings / Decoration

Hand sewn ruching decorates the front silk bodice panel and the belt.


Fancy hand stitched ric rac braid is attached to bodice and skirt.


Tucks are sewn in the front, yoke, back bodice and cuffs.

Fibre / Weave

The plain weave woollen fabric is quite coarse and intended to keep the wearer warm on winter days.

Grey blue plain weave silk forms the front panel, back yoke, and belt.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Hand sewn tucks and ruching and worked eyes.

Lockstitch machine used on seams and tucks on woollen fabric.

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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Hand made hooks and eyes on bodice, skirt and belt.

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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

Bodice and skirt are lined with cotton.

The collar and belt are stiffened with gauze and the belt has 3 whalebones at centre front.


belt bodice skirt
Neck 310 mm
Chest 870 mm
Waist 575 mm 550 mm 575 mm
Cuff 160 mm
Hem circumference 3440 mm
Front neck to hem 350 mm
Front waist to hem 940 mm
Back neck to hem 370 mm
Back waist to hem 1000 mm
Sleeve length 580 mm
Neck to sleeve head 100 mm
Cross back 300 mm
Underarm to underarm 415 mm
Convert to inches

Belt is 50 wide at back and 100 at centre front

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

Receipt for sewing machine possibly used to manufacture the garment.

Funeral notice from the Armidale Express from 21.7.89


Evidence of repairs

Patches and darning


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


  1. Discolouration
  2. Fading
  3. Crease
  4. Holes
  5. Stained
  6. Worn
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