Christening gown and petticoat

Contributed by: Australian History Museum Macquarie University

Broderie Anglaise Bodice Christening Gown Broderie Anglaise Flowers on Sleeve
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Object information

Significance statement

The christening gown and petticoat are of historical, social and spiritual significance. They provide accounts of what people believed to be important in their daily lives and how they lived them. Barbara's christening was an important part of the family's religious beliefs, her father was the Minister for the township. Socially they would have been an important and respected family in the township. The dress was brought from England and given to the family. As a garment it shows the types of fabrics being used in England and early forms of machine embroidery.

Historically these garments provide us with evidence of Australia's and England's social history, and the fabrics and decorations used during this period. At the time this garment would have been made in England, the Industrial Revolution had been revolutionising all aspects of the clothing industry. The garment was hand sewn in many places giving us another insight into the social aspect of daily life.

Author: Vicki Michael, 23rd February 2009.


Christening gown - Long white dress made from Cotton voile with Broderie Anglaise bodice, short puff sleeves. Sleeves have four Broderie flowers appliqued onto them. Sleeve edges and neckline are bound. Drawstring satin ribbon at waistline with satin ribbon ties at neck back. Down centre of skirt is machine embroidery widening at hem. Centre panel is attached to side panels by faggoting to which is attached a decorative strip with embroidered edging that matches the hem of the garment. The seams of the garment are French seams sewn by hand. The garment has been mended in several places. There is a large patch at the centre back where the back opening finishes. Insect damage can be seen in some places.

Petticoat - sleeveless petticoat finished with cotton lace at neck, armholes and hem. Bodice attached to skirt by smocking gathering. Cotton tape threaded through neckline and waist to tie at garment back. A series of six hand sewn tucks 1cm wide add interest to hem. Like the christening gown the seams are hand sewn french seams. There is some damage to the hem of the petticoat and insect damage can also be seen.

History and Provenance

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

The gown was given to the Levic family in 1915 for the christening of their baby daughter Barbara. The name of the donor family living on the property is unknown but had been used as the family christening gown while they were in England.

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

The christening gown was given to Barbara's mother Elvira Levic by a settler family living on their property. The gown had been passed down through the original family in England and had been brought to Australia by them when they migrated here. Barbara's father was the Reverend for the town of Glenfield where they lived on a property outside the town.

How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?

The gown gives an insight into the people who migrated here seeking a new life and to those who already lived here. It shows the social and religious life at the time and the type of materials that were being used for such important ceremonies. Life was hard and religion played an important part in a family's daily life.

Where did this information come from?

The garments and the other objects from this collection were donated to the university by the daughter of the wearer.

This garment has been exhibited


  1. Place of origin:


  2. Owned by:

    Original owner not known, but owned by Barbara Golder (Levic) who lived in country Victoria and was born in 1915 it the came to NSW as part of the owners treasured items when she married.

  3. Worn by:

    It was worn by Barbara at her christening in 1915

  4. Occasion(s):

    Christening gown worn in 1915, and previously in England in and around 1880s.

Trimmings / Decoration

Cotton tape at waist and neck for ties on petticoat and back of gown.


White satin ribbon 0.5cm wide


Lace at neckline, armholes, and hem of petticoat


Six tucks at 1cm apart at hem.


Machine embroidery on centre front skirt panel. Broderie Anglaise bodice

Fibre / Weave

Both garments are of a fine white cotton in a plain weave. The bodice is cotton Broderie Anglaise as well as the centre front panel.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


The garments have both hand and machine sewing on them. There has been some repairs to the christening gown at the back near the centre back opening. This has been mended by hand. No alterations to the garments can be seen.


no Label


No alterations that can be seen.

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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

No stiffening lining or padding has been used on the garment.


gown petticoat
Neck 410 mm 450 mm
Chest 445 mm 550 mm
Waist 530 mm 550 mm
Cuff 220 mm
Hem circumference 2090 mm
Front neck to hem 1115 mm 1080 mm
Front waist to hem 970 mm 965 mm
Back neck to hem 1130 mm 1075 mm
Back waist to hem 990 mm 955 mm
Sleeve length 110 mm
Neck to sleeve head 50 mm
Cross back 220 mm 280 mm
Underarm to underarm 210 mm 260 mm
Convert to inches


Additional material

Other related objects

Also in this collection are such things as a satin and lace bonnet worn by Barbara when she was two, a series of silver spoons that were used by each of her siblings, lace doilies, a fountain pen, single-armed spectacles and a copper kettle.


Both garments are in good condition apart from minor physical problems.

Evidence of repairs

There is evidence of repairs as well as small holes dotted around the gown and petticoat

Insect damage

Some evidence of moth or silverfish damage.


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