At the 2015 ASG Convention, held in Brisbane, Dr Veronica Lampkin launched the book “Madame Weigel, the Woman Who Clothed the Australasian Colonies”. The research for the book took many years of dedicated work and culminated in Veronica receiving her Doctorate.
No members of the Common Threads Group (Boonah, QLD) were able to attend the convention, but we purchased the book. At the Templin Museum in Boonah, where we hold our meetings, there is a small collection of Madame Weigel patterns. After reading the history of this remarkable woman, we decided to each take a pattern and make a garment as an exercise. We used old-style fabrics from deceased estates.
The exercise was interesting. The patterns, though sound, required a good general knowledge of sewing. The description of the stages of assembly would likely challenge today's younger sewists who have not been taught the skill at school.
Two of our members attended an Industry Day in Carindale, hosted by the Blue Lite Sewers, where Dr. Lampkin was the guest speaker. Her PowerPoint presentation included an image of a hat. She heard our exclamation “Not that horrible hat!” After the talk we explained that a ready-made copy of that hat was on display in the Templin Museum’s collection. Helen Burke told Veronica about our project and she said she would like to visit us, which she did. Looking through the extensive garment and textile collection, Veronica was able to identify many articles from clothing to household items as being created from Madame Weigel’s patterns. There were enough items for an exhibition – the date was set for September 2017.
Museum volunteers came on board with cataloguing, display and all the other necessities required. During this preparation phase, locals donated more items, patterns and journals. During this time Veronica endured a serious health issue but, with her usual courage, she cam and viewed the exhibition prior to opening. Her comment – “Craig must see this.” Dr Craig Douglas had been Veronica’s mentor for her PhD.
Two weeks later Dr Douglas viewed the exhibition and stated it should go on tour. The Guild members were ecstatic! Dr Douglas arranged for the complete Weigel exhibition to go to the Liverpool Museum in Sydney where it opened in July 2018 and was on display for three months. Jacqui Wearmouth, Lyn Gordon and Iris Skinner, from the Common Threads Group, attended the opening.
When all items were safely returned to Boonah, we were advised the Pine Rivers Museum at Petrie would like to display some of the items. The opening of this exhibition was held on International Women’s Day. To acknowledge Madame Weigel, to whom the women of Australia owe so much, was very special. Again, after three months the loaned collection was returned in excellent condition.
The collection at the Templin Museum continues to expand. Can you imagine living in the outback or isolated Australian islands and New Zealand and eagerly awaiting the mail which would bring a journal or a pattern?
We thank Dr Veronica Lampkin for bringing to life the woman who contributed so much from 1878 up to 1969.
Common Threads Boonah Group