Boy's black velveteen suit

Contributed by: Griffith Pioneer Park Museum

The Pastega Brothers as little boys (Left to right: Leo, Roy and Ori) Velveteen suit - front view 
Photographer Gordon McCaw The Pastega Family.  Luigia (Gina) and Angelo with their three sons, Roy, Ori and Leo Sailor Suit - front view
Photographer Gordon McCaw Sailor Suit - back view
Photographer Gordon McCaw Ori Pastega in uniform - 1942 Leo Pastega in Australian Training Corp uniform - 1942  (school) Roy Pastega in uniform at Wagga - 1944 The Pastega Brothers ready for school Gina holding the hand of Ori wedding photo of Luigia (Gina) and Angelo Pastega Leo Pastega with his wife Jill and Heather Waide, pictured with his childhood velveteen suit at History Week 2012 Grape harvest.  The boys are on the right: Leo, Roy and Ori Family and friends on a Sunday picnic at the Murrumbidgee River Luigia Pastega and her sons on a motorbike. Harvest time with many helpers.  Apricots drying on trays. Leo Pastega and Jill O'Halloran marry in 1954.  Angelo and Gina Pastega on left.  Ori Pastega on right.
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Griffith Pioneer Park Museum
  • Owner registration number:

    92/66G 92/66F 92/67
  • Date range:

    1928 - 1930
  • Place of origin:

    Griffith, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

    Male, Child
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Object information

Significance statement

This boy's suit is one of three black velveteen suits made in the 1920s for Ori, Roy and Leo Pastega, the sons of an Italian migrant family. The suits were made by the boys' mother Luigia Pastega. The skills required to produce such garments were attained by Luigia as a young girl in Italy. Many Italian women excelled in such fine work, including the making of clothing, lace, knitting and embroidery. The Pastega's emigrated from northern Italy and settled in the newly established Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area town of Griffith. They took occupation of a farm in June 1922 and lived in a simple wooden shed. Over the next two years Angelo made sufficient concrete bricks to build a new house which was completed by September, 1924.

This suit is part of a unique collection of children's clothing made by Luigia Pastega, which includes a second set of suits made of navy blue wool in a 'sailor suit' style. These suits are well designed and made from quality fabric. They were donated intact to the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum/Italian Museum in 1991. This collection of garments is rare, as most children's clothing was either worn out or the fabric re-used.

Author: Heather Waide, 22 November, 2010.


This black velveteen boy's suit is one of three matching suits made in different sizes. This suit is the middle sized one. It consists of four pieces. A Jacket with matching belt, shorts and a detachable white pique collar.

The long line jacket is loose fitting and slightly A-line, with a matching hip belt. The belt has side keepers and fastens with an oval shaped pearl buckle.

The jacket has white pearl buttons on the left hand side asymmetrical closure. The buttons are decorative and match the buckle. Press studs attached under the buttons form the closure. The set in sleeves are long and straight.

A detachable white pique collar fits at the neckline.

The matching shorts are straight legged and have a fly opening.

On the front waist band there are four evenly spaced buttons. The back waist band has two buttons, used for fastening braces.

History and Provenance

Angelo Pastega, father of the three boys for whom the suits were made, was born in Cavaso del Tomba in Northern Italy in September, 1891. As a young man in Italy he acquired skills as a bricklayer, terrazzo, concrete worker and plasterer. Like many of his companions of that time he ventured into Switzerland in search of work. Whilst there he worked on the Bell Tower at Saint Imier. Angelo arrived in Australia in 1912 at the age of 21. His first work was on the north coast of NSW as a labourer constructing the north coast railway line. He later moved to Broken Hill and worked at the South Broken Hill Mine for several years. Following the outbreak of World War I he was repatriated back to Italy. He was able to return to Griffith in 1920 on an assisted passage. At that time the nearest railhead was some way from Griffith so after leaving the train he headed off, on foot, with a tin trunk of personal possessions. Along the way he was given a lift on a horse and cart rig. In Griffith he once again met up with his former Broken Hill mates and settled into farm work. The following year (6th January, 1921) Luigia (Gina) Cassaltar together with a couple of friends arrived in Melbourne from Italy. The following day there was a double wedding, with Gina marrying Angelo and her friend Pasqua marrying Antonio Ceccato. Gina was then 22 years old. She had been a maid/seamstress in Possagno, her home town in northern Italy. Returning to the newly settled township of Griffith, Gina was confronted with the primitive living conditions and her immediate reaction was 'If I had 25 pounds I would go back to Italy!'

As a returned soldier and with the opening up of more land Angelo was successful in a farm ballot under the Soldier Settlement Scheme. Angelo and Gina took occupation of Farm 1290 in June 1922. He constructed a simple wooden shed for their dwelling and over the next two years made sufficient concrete bricks to build a new house which was completed by September, 1924.

Angelo became a Naturalised Australian in 1924 and became a member of the Griffith Sub-branch of the RSL.

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Angelo Pastega was born in Cavaso del Tomba, Italy, in September 1891.

Luigia (Gina) Cossaltar was born in Passagno, Italy, in 1899.

Angelo and Luigia married in Melbourne, the day after her arrival from Italy on 7th January, 1921.

Ori Pastega was born on 6th July, 1922

Roy Pastega was born on 26th October, 1924

Leo Pastega was born on 5th April, 1926

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

Newly arrived migrant families were often lonely in the harsh and unfamiliar Australian environment, and regular social gatherings with fellow country people helped to alleviate this. With the coming of motor transport, a new dimension arose in social activities. Several truck owners (Angelo Pastega included) would, in the summer time, organize makeshift seating benches on the back of their trucks. This consisted of planks resting on wooden boxes. After calling on various farms to pick up family groups, the journey was made to the Murrumbidgee River at Darlington Point for a days outing at the river. Their love of music and song enjoyed on these occasions, is another tradition which made its way to Australia from the old country.

The communal preparation of traditional foods like salami and pasta sauce were also important social events and continue today. The annual Griffith 'Festa Della Salsiccia' (Festival of the Sausage), a salami-making competition, is a much anticipated event which brings out a strong competitive spirit.

For these pioneers on newly released farms, conditions were primitive. Men were able to learn to speak English through their work, but women were often isolated while caring for their young families. One can only imagine the reality of leaving behind a close-knit community for this remote and austere environment. With no electricity, conveniences or even running water, women made everything by hand including cheese, butter, pasta and soap. Even pillows and quilts were made from feathers saved when killing poultry. 

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

Angelo and Luigia (Gina) were among many immigrants who settled in the newly established Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area town of Griffith.

They arrived in Australia with little money, few possessions and minimal English. Centuries of hardship in Italy, exacerbated by the destruction and poverty brought about by WW1, had made them determined to seek out a better future elsewhere.

Although they arrived relatively empty-handed, the Pastega family brought with them many skills, family traditions and a strong work ethic. These attributes enabled them to settle as farming pioneers on the newly released blocks of land in the region. Despite early crops being trial and error, and market demand unreliable, the family expectation that all members would work hard, contributed to their success. Intensive vegetable farming and the keeping of domestic animals enabled the family to produce their own food.

During the farm development and period to fruit production, land holders under the Settlement Scheme were given a subsistence allowance. Angelo supplemented this with any bricklaying jobs that came along in the form of house foundations, chimney or wall construction.

As the farm developed, Angelo looked for a more efficient means of controlling and distributing water within the farm other than through the existing earthen channel head ditches, which became inefficient due to weed growth. He began construction of internal concrete feeder ditches within his and neighbouring farms. Though built in the 20s and 30s, most of these channels are still operative to this day. His trade mark at the conclusion of each job, was the impression made with the base of a beer bottle in the wet concrete, or on a dob of mortar on brickwork.

Where did this information come from?

Family history and photos donated to the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

Local history books: 'Griffith Heritage', by Peter Kabaila and 'From Wilderness to Eden - A history of the City of Griffith, its region and its people', by B.M. Kelly

'History of Children's Costume' by Elizabeth Ewing

This garment has been exhibited

One of the black velveteen suits is displayed as part of a clothing exhibition in the Italian Museum, Griffith. This Museum is part of the Griffith Pioneer Park Museum.

  1. Place of origin:

    Griffith, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    This suit and the other two matching suits were owned by Ori, Roy and Leo Pastega.

    The suits were donated to Pioneer Park Museum, Griffith in 1991.

    Many other items of children's clothing belonging to the three brothers make up this collection

  3. Worn by:

    This suit and the other two matching suits were worn by the three Pastega brothers, Ori, Roy and Leo.

  4. Occasion(s):

    Special occasion and family celebrations.

  5. Place:

    Griffith and district

  6. Designed by:

    Luigia (Gina) Pastega, mother of the boys

  7. Made by:

    Luigia Pastega

  8. Made for:

    The three sons of the Pastega family, Ori, Roy and Leo.

Trimmings / Decoration


Black petersham ribbon used for hem facings and seam allowance bindings.

Fibre / Weave

Jacket, belt and shorts: Black cotton velveteen has been used for the front panels of the jacket. The shorts are made of the black velveteen also. A different colour based velveteen has been used on the back panel of the jacket and one panel of one sleeve. The colours are very similar on the outside, however on the inside one fabric has a black base, the other a brown/maroon base.

The collar is made of white cotton pique.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Black Velveteen Suit

This boy's suit is home made from black velveteen fabric.

The main seams are machine stitched. On the jacket, black petersham ribbon binding has been machine stitched to enclose the seam allowance edges. 

Black ribbon forms the facing on the jacket front opening, hemline and sleeve hem. This has been machined then handstitched to the garment. The sleeves are set in and the seam allowance bound with a hand stitched facing.

On the side seam of the right hand front panel an extra piece of fabric has been inserted. It is 35mm wide on the jacket hemline and tapers to 10mm wide at the underarm seam.

The shorts waistline is finished with a machine stitched ribbon facing. Four black buttons are evenly spaced across the front waistband. Two buttons 40mm apart are attached onto the back waistband.

The shorts have a 40mm fly opening in the centre front seam. This is faced with hand stitched ribbon. A double layer of black cotton fabric 40mm x 65mm, stitched and turned to the right side covers the fly opening on the inside of the shorts, with hand stitching to secure each end.

Seam allowances on the shorts have been finished with hand overcasting with a heavy white thread.

The collar is made of one layer of white pique, machine hemmed on the outer edge.

The neck edge has been bound with narrow white tape, machined, then hand stitched.

The collar has one press stud to attach it to the jacket. The remainder of the collar is lightly hand stitched in place.

Sailor suit

This suit has been home made from navy woollen twill fabric.

The top has been cut in one piece across the fabric width of 660mm. There are no shoulder seams. Selvedge edges are visible on both sleeve seams. An 80 mm piece has been joined to the dolman sleeve end with a 55mm cuff added to this. The side and underarm sleeve seam are a french seam, machine stitched. The top has been tucked to fit a 35mm wide band across the bottom. The sleeve join seam and band seam have top stitching. The collar and dickey are made of white cotton pique with a press stud to attach. A hand embroidered anchor decorates the pique.


Shorts centre back and centre front seam have been let out an extra 20mm.

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


Jacket and shorts have been cut on the straight grain.

The pique collar is shaped in a curve to fit the neckline.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Buttons on jacket are decorative. Press studs underneath form the closure. Belt fastens with a buckle.

Braces were attached to the buttons on the shorts.

Collar held in place with a press stud then hand stitching.

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


jacket shorts
Neck 340 mm
Chest 850 mm
Waist 900 mm 670 mm
Hip 940 mm 680 mm
Cuff 200 mm
Hem circumference 960 mm 340 mm
Front neck to hem 505 mm
Front waist to hem 180 mm
Back neck to hem 510 mm
Back waist to hem 180 mm 350 mm
Sleeve length 330 mm
Inside leg 105 mm
Outside leg 310 mm
Neck to sleeve head 110 mm
Cross back 315 mm
Underarm to underarm 425 mm
Convert to inches

Dress Themes

The sailor suit - an insight

Luigia also made a matching set of 'sailor suits' for her sons. This fashion, initially inspired by a painted portrait of the young English Prince of Wales in 1846, began a worldwide trend in children's fashion which still endures today. At that time, Britain ruled the seas and her navy was the Empire's proudest symbol. Young boys clothed in sailor suits brought a glow of pride to English parents, and in homage to the young Prince, the 'sailor suit' became a prominent fashion for boys. The look also spread to the European countries and Russia. Adaptations of the theme appear at a later date in girls' clothing.

The enduring nature of this fashion can be traced through various commentaries. In her book 'History of Children's Costume' (1977), Elizabeth Ewing states,

'Every family album tells the same story, for this fashion, unlike adult ones, overrode class distinctions. It was the first time this had happened in fashion, and it anticipated by nearly a century, the classless fashions of the future'. (page 89)

After the introduction of the sewing machine in the late 1800s, the sailor suit was easily made. It was practical, comfortable and suited to all occasions. There is a portrait of the young Winston Churchill wearing a sailor suit. Today, the fashion in all its variations continues to be influential. 

The black velveteen suits

The black velveteen suits with their white collars were possibly a version of the 'tunic' or 'knicker-bocker' suit with cropped trousers and different jacket styles popular in Italy at the time. Longer loose jackets with white collars and a belt were popular for boys from the 1840s in England and Europe. These suits were mostly dark in colour and of all types of fabric, including luxurious velvet.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions


The Pastega Brothers – Ori, Roy and Leo

Ori joined the RAAF in 1941 and saw service with the Catalina Squadron No.11 at Bowen, Queensland. He joined the Hydrographic Branch of the WC & IC in 1948 where he served in Head Office, Sydney, then Albury and Tumut. He transferred to the Griffith office in 1960, then in 1964 to Grafton to become the Assistant Engineer with the Clarence River County Council, Flood Mitigation Authority. He married Jean Wright of Albury in 1956 and they have two daughters. Ori retired in 1986 and lived in Grafton.

Roy also joined the RAAF - saw active service with RAF's No. 54 Spitfire Fighter Squadron in Darwin. He joined the WC & IC Head office in Sydney in 1949, later moving to Finley, Wakool and Deniliquin. In 1954 he married Loris Margaret Eagle and they have two sons, Gary and Allan. In 1964 he was appointed as the Water Commission's District Officer at Hay where he remained until his retirement in 1984. He left Hay in 1988 to settle at Nambucca Heads.

Leo, the youngest Pastega brother was still at school during the war. He worked on the farm with his father at this time.  After the war, Leo moved to Glen Davis, near Bathurst, then to Sydney in 1946.  Initially he worked with NSW Forestry and then with the Department of Main Roads, where he was employed until his retirement in 1986. In 1954 he married Jill O'Halloran of Hurstville, Sydney. After a few years living in Homebush, they settled in Miranda. They had four daughters and two sons and are the proud grandparents of 13 with two great grandchildren. One memorable childhood event for Leo was when their father Angelo, told the boys they could have a swimming pool or tennis court - on the condition that they built it themselves with the farm tractor. They opted for the tennis court and Leo's love of tennis began. Leo was a competitive tennis player in the fifties and his love of sports has continued in many areas. In 1963, Leo was one of the founders of the Highway Alpine Ski Club in Perisher Valley and remained a keen skier into his seventies. Since retirement, Leo has followed in his father's footsteps by taking up lawn bowls. In addition to participating in regular competitions, Leo provides instruction to local high school students. 



Other related objects

Three matching 'sailor suits' worn by the boys are included in this collection also. They are made from navy blue woollen twill and have white pique collars. Blue, hand embroidered anchors decorate the back corner of the collars and the white pique inserted dickey has an embroidered anchor matching the others. Two navy blue ribbons tie in the front.

A number of pairs of hand knitted white plain and patterned socks worn with the different suits.

The patterned socks have a small button attached on the top band of each sock. Approximately 40mm away on the band is a 70mm thread. The thread was wound around the button to tension the sock and prevent it from falling down.

Small hats and caps.

Underwear and nightwear garments made by Luigia.

Embroidered blouses.

Household linen with embroidery and crocheting.

Home-made knives recycled from canecutter's knives, made by Angelo.


Evidence of repairs

Black shorts: Back right leg has a 30mm tear from the hem upwards. Tear has been repaired with hand stitching.


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


  1. Torn
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