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I happen to be a member of Museum Victoria and when the latest newsletter came through with an article entitled “How old is your underwear?”, I was naturally intrigued!

There are many people out there who are fascinated with and collect clothing and textiles from bygone eras and many of them include underwear as part of their collections.  I have a wonderful book by Jill Salen that is purely dedicated to the corset and how to make them based on the original designs.


If this happens to be an area in which you are interested or perhaps have items that could be useful for research purposes, the following information is reproduced from the MV Members newsletter:

A call from Claire Lockyer (PhD Student at Museum Victoria): How old is your underwear?
I am currently undertaking a research project focusing on women’s underwear in Melbourne during the nineteenth century. I am interested in both locally made and imported garments. Examples of the types of underwear worn during this period include: petticoats, chemises, combinations, drawers and corsets. If you have any of these lying around at home collecting dust, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at Perhaps you might even consider donating your items to Museum Victoria.


Today I took myself into see this beautiful quilt….and it is absolutely beautiful!  It won’t stay that way long if the gallery doesn’t do something about keeping the public back from it though.  In the short time I was there at least two people put their hands on it and another nearly tore the quilt from the wall tripping over the raised platform in front of it.

E Dickens Quilt

E Dickens Quilt

As you can see from this picture (Taken with the ambient light within the gallery as flashes can damage vulnerable fabrics!) the quilt is substantial in size.  On close examination there is little if any wadding left – it is very thin!  It appears to have a binding but in actual fact the edges have been turned under and there is a fine line of quilting right along the edge.

Outer Edge

Outer Edge

The fine edge three stripe fabric is approx 1 & 1/4″ wide and is applied in three sections, the middle section on each side reads orange, gold centre and dark brown stripe to the edge of the quilt as opposed to the two outside stripes as seen below.

RH Lower Corner

RH Lower Corner

As you can see there is even a tiny corner block – and this is broderie perse as are the larger floral blocks in the adjoining rows. The stitching of the broderie perse varies in “expertise” – some of it is so tiny, it is hard to believe it could have been hand stitched and other areas shows a less refined level of skill indicating that the quilt may well have been the work of more than one person.

The wall notes accompanying the quilt state that the broderie perse was executed using chain stitch… is clearly buttonhole stitch. (Full text of the wall notes can be found here.)

This quilt is a “must see” for anyone interested in quilting, historic quilts, quilt preservation techniques and old textiles.  It can be found in Gallery 5 Level 2 of the NGV Federation Square (Ian Potter Gallery) Melbourne.

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