Elen Ferguson's Blue Silk Wedding Dress

Contributed by: Private collectors

At Wandandian Sesquicentenial, Dec 2010 great granddaughter Elen Winifred "Winnie" Sinclair, Tomerong 1970s Point at waist front Centre of bodice Centre of bodice (interior) Hook and eye fastening (interior) with detail of lining Round neck. Some damage to cord trim Elbow detail Braiding Perspiration stains
  • Australian dress register ID:

  • Owner:

    Private collectors
  • Date range:

  • Place of origin:

    Windsor, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gender:

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Object information

Significance statement

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.

  1. Place of origin:

    Windsor, New South Wales, Australia

  2. Owned by:

    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).

  3. Worn by:

    Elen Suffolk nee Ferguson.

  4. Occasion(s):


  5. Place:

    Windsor, NSW

  6. Made by:

    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.

  1. Natural dye
  2. Synthetic dye


  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

Boning (believed to be whalebone) at centre and sides of bodice. Raw silk lining in bodice, cotton lining in skirt.


Neck 800 mm
Chest 850 mm
Waist 610 mm
Cuff 190 mm
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.


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


  1. Fading
  2. Stained
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