Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"A Stitch In Time"

This evening at 5.30 pm I attended a excellent lecture at the Melbourne Museum.
Arriving in Port Phillip in 1844, Irish born Anne Trotter was one of many emigrants deemed suitable for assisted passage to Australia. Among her possessions she packed in her trunk, was her needlework specimen book. 
In those days she would have used her book as a CV to gain employment in a household for mending and sewing for a family.
Laura is currently doing her PhD at Melbourne University in "clothing in Colonial days".
Anne Trotter, born 1820, took 16 weeks to travel from County Louth to Australia with her family.
She settled near Geelong in the Mt Duneed/Colac area. She later married and had 2 children.
 Her book was donated to the museum by her great, great granddaughter, for the reason that she felt it should be treasured and preserved somewhere and she could not look after it.
It is currently with the curator who is trying to find a way to preserve it.
 The book is 25cm x 15 cm, with a plain cover.
Anne was only one of a handful on the ship that could read and write.
She attended the Female Free School in Collon, Ireland.
It was here that she undertook 12 weeks of sewing and hand stitching.
 Majority of her work was hand sewn.
In 1851 Isaac Singer produced the sewing machine and Anne did have some use of it.
 Anne's 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th classes in 1835
Bottom right, she learnt buttonhole.

 The green pages are from the school tutor book that she was to take her lessons from.
 Anne's 6th class was Marking on Shirt.
9th class was Patching.
The garments were of miniature scale. 
 The class sample on the green page of the school workbook, Anne's work on the right.
 Class 6, Gathering and Fastening 
 Some of the garments are pinned to the pages and some are glued.
This is causing concern for the preservation of the book.
The pages are disintegrating, another concern.
 There are no photos of Anne and her family to be found.

 Anne's 11th class, Knitting.
Miniature bonnet, stocking and bootee. 


  1. That is such a piece of history. How lucky were you to see it. Very interesting.

  2. What a wonderful treasure. That tiny piece of knitting is amazing.

  3. A fascinating piece of history!

  4. Thx very much for sharing. A fascinating bit of women's history.

  5. I do hope this treasure can be preserved!

  6. Amazing that fragile textiles have survived. We are so used to seeing miniature furnishing items in museums made by boys learning their trade. This so clearly tells a woman's story.

  7. Looks like it was a very interesting talk. I noticed the name of Ellen Mahon on one of the pages. Mahon is my maiden name and I know very little about my family history.

  8. The book is amazing. I have seen a few of these in collections and always thought how lucky those girls were to have such a comprehensive introduction to the art of the needle.