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Weston Bate Memorial Lecture

18 November, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

$5 – $10

Date: Thursday 18th November at 6pm

Cost: $10 in person, $5 online


‘I Find My Sewing Powers of Great Advantage Here’: Needlework on the Diggings

In 1856, Maggie Hoey wrote to her sister in Scotland: ‘I find my sewing powers of great advantage here’. By ‘here’, Maggie was referring to her new home on the Victorian goldfields. By her ‘sewing powers’, she meant her skills in needlework that ranged from making and mending clothing to furnishing her tent. This lecture will explore the ‘great advantage’ of women’s and men’s sewing on the diggings: how it made them comfortable by clothing and housing them, but how it also helped assert their place in the tumultuous gold-rush society.

It will draw on diaries, letters and memoirs written on the diggings, on the illustrations and photographs that richly captured those experiences, and on the rare surviving examples of needlework now preserved in museum collections. It will show just how important sewing could be to transform daily life.


Dr Lorinda Cramer is a postdoctoral researcher at the Australian Catholic University, where she is currently working on the ARC Discovery project Men’s Dress in Twentieth-Century Australia: Masculinity, Fashion, Social Change. Her research into dress, fashion and textile history is underpinned by material culture and inspired by her work for more than a decade as a museum curator and collection manager. Her PhD, completed in 2015, explored the lives of Victoria’s female gold-rush migrants through their needlework: from the clothes they sewed for themselves and their families to the textile goods they made for their homes and the relentless demands of mending and darning.

This research was published by Bloomsbury in 2020 as Needlework and Women’s Identity in Colonial Australia and has recently been released in paperback


18 November, 2021
6:00 pm
$5 – $10
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