In gold-rush Australia, social identity was in flux: gold promised access to fashionable new clothes, a grand home, and the goods to furnish it, but could not buy gentility. Needlework and Women's Identity in Colonial Australia explores how the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters who migrated to the newly formed colony of Victoria used their needle skills as a powerful claim to social standing.
Focusing on one of women's most common daily tasks, the book examines how needlework's practice and products were vital in the contest for social position in the turmoil of the first two decades of the Victorian rush from 1851.
Placing women firmly at the centre of colonial history, it explores how the needle became a tool for stitching together identity. From decorative needlework to household making and mending, women's sewing was a vehicle for establishing, asserting and maintaining social status.