Australian dress register ID:329
Place of origin:Windsor, New South Wales, Australia
This dress is an example of a working-class wedding dress which may have been used carefully on other occasions as a 'best' dress. It does not appear to have been 'made over' after going out of fashion. Author: , .
Blue-green silk wedding dress that has faded to grey-green, worn by Elen Ferguson (1818-1855) in Windsor, NSW, 7th February 1839. There is a central boned seam in the front of the bodice, and boning on each side from the arm to waist. There are two diagonal pleats inserted into the front panels of the bodice, that run from the top sleeve to the centre of the waistband. The waistband is piped and drops sharply only in the centre of the dress, where the pleats join. The piping is a little bit puckered and uneven, being hand sewn. The sleeves are very narrow and have a band of ruffled blue silk a row of cord braiding on either side of the elbow. The braiding is also used on the round neck. The full skirt is gathered at the waist and is floor length.
History and Provenance
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
Elen Ferguson, generally recorded as Ellen or Helen, was born in Glasgow, Scotland. She married widower and English immigrant Joseph Suffolk in Windsor, NSW, at the age of 20 and had 6 known children. The family later moved to the South Coast of NSW where they became involved in farming and cedar cutting.
Elen's dress was passed down through her female descendants and has made frequent appearances at local history events in the Nowra and Tomerong areas. Her name has also been passed down through the families.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
Elen and Joseph were working-class immigrant settlers whose children married into other pioneer families of the NSW South Coast.
Where did this information come from?
Great great granddaughter, from family stories and genealogical research.
Place of origin:
Windsor, New South Wales, Australia
Passed down through female descendants, most recently great granddaughter Elen Winifred "Winnie" Sinclair nee Watt, her niece Nerida Ryan nee Morison, to her daughter Kathleen Cobcroft nee Watson (great great granddaughter).
Elen Suffolk nee Ferguson.
Probably sewn by a friend or relative rather than a professional dressmaker.
Trimmings / Decoration
blue and silver cord at elbows and neck
V-shaped ruching (bodice)
Fibre / Weave
Blue "china silk" dress. Cream raw silk lining in bodice. Unbleached cotton lining in skirt.
- Natural dye
- Synthetic dye
Stiffening / Lining / Padding
Boning (believed to be whalebone) at centre and sides of bodice. Raw silk lining in bodice, cotton lining in skirt.
|Hem circumference||2740 mm|
|Back neck to hem||1250 mm|
|Back waist to hem||970 mm|
|Sleeve length||505 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||75 mm|
|Cross back||380 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||405 mm|
|Convert to inches|
Braiding is coming unravelled at the neck where the supporting stitches have perished. Perspiration stains at armpits. Some small tears to the bottom of the skirt on the fold of the hem.