Woman's dress

Contributed by: Illawarra Historical Society

Dress detail detail
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Illawarra Historical Society
  • Owner registration number:

  • Date range:

    1864 - 1866
  • Place of origin:

  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

Owned and used in Tasmania by the family of Deslie Welsch of Mount Ousley and was donated to the Illawarra Museum when the family home was being cleared. It has evidence of alterations and use as fancy dress costume.

Author: , .


The dress is made from purple silk taffeta with yellow bud and flower woven pattern. The bodice is decorated with braid, bias cut silk, piping and fringing and stiffened with whalebone. It fastens with ten braided buttons and buttonholes at the front and is lined with cotton fabric. The full length sleeve has a separate silk puff at the top. A fringed peplum is roughly attached to the bodice The gathered and trained skirt has been stitched to the bodice and has a placket opening on the left side seam and a pocket in the right side seam. Its hem is taped to make a neat firm edge.

History and Provenance

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

In August 2004 a local resident, Rosemary Bourden, was helping a neighbour to move house, the dress was noticed in a garbage bag destined for the op-shop and the suggestion was made that the Illawarra Museum might be interested to have the dress.

This garment has been exhibited

The dress was exhibited at the Illawarra Historical Society in '200 Years of Fashion' December 2008-March 2009.

  1. Place of origin:


  2. Owned by:

    Owned and used in Tasmania by the family of Deslie Welsch of Mount Ousley.

  3. Place:


Trimmings / Decoration

Silk fringe is used with bias cut silk and piping to decorate the bodice, sleeves and peplum.




The pattern on the fabric is woven.

Fibre / Weave

Purple taffeta embroidered with yellow flowers and buds.

Bodice lined with cotton.

Skirt lined with silk.

Possibly dyed with synthetic dye judging from the rich colour purple.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


Originally two pieces. Joined by a non-professional.

The skirt has been joined to the waist so the placket opens at the front whereas when it was a separate garment it opened at the side back. Because of this the skirt is not placed correctly when worn.


Two pieces joined by a non-professional.

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


  1. Bias
  2. Straight


Buttons hand covered.

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

Stiffening / Lining / Padding

Whalebone is used to stiffen the bodice and it is lined with cream linen.

The skirt has a 370mm cotton band to stiffen the lower part.


Waist 700 mm
Hem circumference 3600 mm
Front neck to hem 1550 mm
Front waist to hem 1200 mm
Sleeve length 500 mm
Fabric width 510 mm
Convert to inches

The 510mm width or 20inches suggests this fabric might be English.

Dress Themes

Best day dress.

Additional material

Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions

See Nancy Bradfield 'Costume in Detail 1730-1930' for similar dress with peplum p217.

Other related objects

One other dress and a linen petticoat were found with this at the same time.

The second dress is of very fine silk brocade which has been remade and pieced from an open robe (1775-1780) into a dress in the style of 1860.

Link to collection online


Evidence of repairs

Bodice, peplum and skirt have been very roughly joined by a poor needlewoman maybe for a fancy dress party.


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


  1. Brittle
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