Historical information

This petticoat was one of several items donated from the estate of Susan Henry OAM nee Vedmore (1944 - 2021). It is in very good condition and appears to be from the Edwardian era - early 20th century.
A petticoat is a lady's undergarment - worn under a skirt or dress. They provided warmth, modesty and shape to the dress.
In the middle of the 19th century, petticoats were worn over hoops, bustles or in layers. Petticoats varied according to the style of the outside skirt or dress. Plain petticoats tended to be worn with everyday wear whilst better dresses (party dresses or silk gowns) were worn with petticoats that often had more trim and embellishments.
Edwardian petticoats had less volume than Victorian era petticoats and they had a "dust ruffle" or lining under a lace flounce. The "dust ruffle" protected the lace flounce and gave the petticoat more flare at the bottom, greater freedom when walking as well as saving the flounce (which was often made of finer material) from everyday wear and tear. Tucks are another feature of Edwardian petticoats - when the lace at the bottom became worn, it could be cut off and the tucks released. This extended the life of the petticoat.

This petticoat features an intricate trim of broderie anglaise. Although broderie anglaise was a lace that could be made by hand, it was very time consuming to make. St Gallen was a city in Switzerland that had become known for producing quality textiles. At the beginning of the 19th century, the first embroidery machines were developed in St Gallen. Factories used embroidery machines but people also had them in their homes. They were able to produce broderie anglaise for export. By the early 20th century, machine made lace, fabric, ribbons etc. were being sold in drapers shops all over England and Wales to women who were making clothes and furnishings for their families. It is highly likely that the lady who made this petticoat brought the lengths of broderie anglaise already made to embellish and personalise her petticoat.

Susan's family (Harold and Gladys Vedmore) immigrated to Australia from Wales in 1955 and settled in Warrnambool. Susan was well known in the Warrnambool community for her work supporting children and families across the district - particular those with disabilities, or those who were homeless, unemployed or isolated. Susan was the founding trustee of the "Vedmore Foundation" - a Warrnambool philanthropic trust set up in 2010 to support a range of charitable and not-for-profit causes by providing grant assistance. In 2021, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the community.


This item is an example of the needlework skills of women in the late 19th century - creating pintucks and adding lace to personalise and embellish a practical item of clothing. It is also significant as an example of a practical solution to the difficulties that women of this era faced with regard to the washing of clothes and household linens.

Physical description

A white lawn petticoat with a 22.5 cm opening that fastens with 2 small buttons and a drawstring tie. It is decorated with two wide pintucks followed by two gathered frills (or flounces) - one decorated with three rows of narrow pintucks and a single row of broderie anglaise and the bottom frilled hem finished with 3 rows of broderie anglaise in a flower design. The two bottom frills are lined with plain white cotton fabric.