Ada Nash - Wedding Dress

Contributed by: Canowindra Historical Museum

Three weights in little silk cloth bags were handstitched to the back waistline of the inner shift.
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Canowindra Historical Museum
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

    Canowindra, NSW, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

This dress, made by the bride, was very fashionable for the time, reflecting the influence of Coco Chanel who was reponsible for liberating women from corsetry. There are two parts to this dress.  The street length under dress or petticoat is made of a heavier cream pure silk with’ gold metal lace’ attached around the neckline. The outer dress is made of a lighter weight pure silk of the same colour, which gracefully falls in folds from the shoulders.  The dress is sleeveless with the fashionable 1928 lower waistline.  Around this lower waistline is a sash, cut on the bias of the same material.  The sash is held in the front with a beautiful purchased ornamental motif with a fine glass beaded fringe approx. 10 to 13 cm in width, falling from the motif to the hemline.  The front skirts are split to above the knee, in keeping with the fashion.  The beautiful full length cathedral train (which can only be seen in the wedding photo) completed the whole effect. 

Ada was the ninth child of her family & fortunately was given the opportunity to live in Sydney for a time where we believe she perfected her seamstress skills.  The dress was given to her daughter Margaret Boag.  In 1987 Margaret gifted the dress to the Canowindra & District Historical Society.  In the following years the dress was worn in many district fund raising Fashion Parades for the Historical Society & then dressed on a ‘store dummy’ in a glass cabinet.  In this time the dress has deteriorated, especially over the shoulders which have taken the weight of the dress for so long.  This dress is now being ‘rested’ & stored.

Author: Jill McDonald, 5.12.2016.


This loose fitting dropped waist 1928 design wedding dress falls below the knee and is made of three different qualities of cream coloured soft silk fabric.

It is a  tubular silhouette dress with a slightly blouson dropped waist overbodice. It has an over skirt which is open at centre front.

It has a one piece under slip made of silk lining fabric which has an added second silk crepe overbodice lining. The dropped waist over bodice is not joined at sides, but has tabbard like construction and falls from the shoulders to meet at centre front. It has three knife pleats each side of CF facing towards side seams to enhance blouson effect.

The lining has a squarish neckline back and front, edged with coffee coloured lace. The raw lining armhole edges are finished by being turned over the raw inner lining and tacked.

The outer over silk dress has a V neckline from the shoulder to dropped waistline slightly blouson at the front.  Open side seams meet at the dropped waist. The plain back bodice features an oval neckline.

The overdress has all edges and hems bias self-bound.The underslip has a 190 mm hem.

The  dropped waist, open front skirt has three knife pleats each side of CF facing towards side seams which match those of the bodice.


History and Provenance

Ada was the 9th child of William George and Mary Davis, nee Whitmee. She often spoke to her family about the fact that she was at the right age when her father bought their  first car. The boys could not be spared from the farmwork, so she learned to drive and became her father's chauffer, any time he left the farm for supplies, meetings and other outings.

Ada was  a very accomplished seamstress developing these skills when she worked in Sydney for a time before she married.

She married Henry Arthur Nash and went to live on the following properties: Oakburn, Cudal, The Pines Cudal Road, Canowindra. They had five children of whom two died as infants.

Her son Jeff remembers in the 1930s and 1940s, his mum driving each day during harvest with two course hot meals delivered to dad in the paddock each lunch time.

Ada always remained a keen driver.

Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information

Ada was born on 8th November, 1896. She died 14th May, 1963, and is buried in the Methodist portion of the Canowindra cemetery.

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

Ada was involved in the Canowindra Branch of CWA being President for some time, Red Cross, and the Hospital Auxiliary.

Where did this information come from?

Balcomb, Harold and Dorothy, 1995. Whitmee: A name to Remember. Cudal NSW: H. N. and D. M. Balcomb Publishers

This garment has been exhibited

Local fashion parades organised by Canowindra Museum.

The dress has been on display at the Canowindra Museum for decades. It has now being rested and stored.

  1. Place of origin:

    Canowindra, NSW, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    Ada Nash nee Davis of Ingledell, Avenel District, between Cargo and Canowindra.

  3. Worn by:

    Ada Nash nee Davis.

  4. Occasion(s):

    Wedding in 1928.

    Fashion parades by Canowindra Museum in 1970s and 1980s.

  5. Place:

    Ada was married at the Old Methodist Church at Cranbury District near Canowindra.

  6. Designed by:

    Ada designed and created her wedding dress.

Trimmings / Decoration

Large horizontal beaded (possibly purchased) motif attached to front of sash.

Long fringe from under sash to hem of beaded, silver glass bugle beads. Fringe stitched to tape which is then stiched to frock under sash.


Gold Lace attached to neckline of undersip. This is attached to a band of entredeaux across front neckline.

Fibre / Weave

There are three kinds of silk used in the construction of the frock. The undershift is a light silk lining fabric.

Added to the undershift is a soft silk crepe bodice overlay, so that the undershift is not visible on the right side.

Attached at the shoulders and draped over the undershift is a silk lustre over bodice and skirt. This bodice has open side seams and a deep V neckline that joins at the dropped waistline. The edges of this silk lustre overdress are bound with bias, self fabric binding.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Ada made this dress herself. It appears that a pattern was not used but it was draped and created on the model. Generally speaking, it is not symmetrical, for example, the underslip has one shoulder with two tucks in it, while the other is flat. Both shoulders are the same width.

A simple 2 piece shift of silk lining fabric has a crepe outer fabric attached. It would appear that there was not enough of this fabric to cover the entire bodice, so it is split down the back - but appears to be all there. At the armholes this is simply folded over the silk lining and hand tacked to it - the edges being left raw. The neckline of the underslip has coffee coloured lace machine stitched to it, except at centre front where it is hand stitched to a row of entredeaux. The underslip has a deep 190mm machine stitched hem.

Added to this is an overfrock of silk lustre satin which has split sides and a deep V at the front, meeting at the dropped waist.

A broad bias sash is attached to the dropped waist. It is decorated at centre front with a horizontal beaded motif hand stitched to the sash. Falling from under the sash is a long bugle bead fringe which covers a split in the skirt at CF.

Three weights in little silk cloth bags were handstitched to the back waistline of the inner shift to counterbalance the weight of the heavy glass bead fringe. See photo below.


No label.

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


The undershift is cut on the straight.

The blouson overdress is also cut on the straight. However as the split front skirts are semi-circular they appear to be on the bias at the side seams.

  1. Bias
  2. Straight


This dress has no fastenings. It was donned over the head as it has a wide neckline and relaxed fit.

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


dress petticoat
Chest 1080 mm
Waist 1035 mm
Hip 1230 mm 1230 mm
Hem circumference 1330 mm
Front neck to hem 880 mm
Front waist to hem 500 mm
Back neck to hem 890 mm
Back waist to hem 480 mm
Neck to sleeve head 70 mm
Cross back 380 mm
Underarm to underarm 550 mm
Convert to inches



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


  1. Discolouration
  2. Brittle
  3. Frayed
  4. Dirt
  5. Dust
  6. Holes
  7. Stained
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