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Sample Folder

The Tinonee Museum has in its collection a red cardboard folder containing 35 sewing samples separated by pink cardboard.

Each page is titled with the samples name and includes the attached stitched sample and hand drawn instructions.

The samples and instructions illustrate sewing techniques such as seams, hems, bindings, plackets, buttonholes, tucks, crochet and lace edging, smocking and shirring and small items of baby’s clothing such as booties and bonnets.

The folder was created by Lesley Frances [known as Peggy] Muldoon nee Rose [1917 – 2012].


Lesley Frances “Peggy” Rose was born at Eden, on the South Coast of NSW and moved to the Mid North Coast when her father, a timber inspector with the Forestry Commission, was transferred to Taree.

After completing her Leaving Certificate in Taree, Peggy commenced teacher training at Armidale Teachers College, from which she graduated in 1937.

Peggy’s first appointment was to Taree Infants School.

In 1945 Peggy married William Muldoon and the couple made their home at Tinonee.

During their married life they ventured to Dorrigo where they raised their 4 children.

Peggy later taught mathematics at Coffs Harbour High School and when Will and Peggy returned to Taree at Chatham High School.

Peggy Muldoon sewed firstly to clothe her family and in later years used it as relaxation after a day spent teaching. She was well known for her beautiful smocking and tatting.

Peggy’s daughter, Anne, can recall she and her three brothers wearing matching clothes made by their mother.

According to family, Peggy made the samples, which are in the museum’s collection, whilst she was attending dressmaking classes at Coffs Harbour Technical College.  A course advertised by Coffs Harbour Technical College in 1952 described the course as “embracing designing, making and finishing and should be considerable benefit to ladies desirous of making their own or children’s clothes in a practical manner”.

Sewing sample books like the one in the Tinonee Museum’s collection were produced to demonstrate the student was proficient in the sewing skills which were being taught. The book and sewing samples were used for course assessment and to determine if the student had passed the course criteria.

In Taree, Margaret Blyth can recall doing a night course through the Taree Technical College in the building also occupied by the Boomerang Theatre. Margaret said the course provided not only greater knowledge of needlework but also a nice way to meet other ladies. Margaret taught sewing at Taree West Primary School in 1955.

There is a long history of teaching sewing and dressmaking skills to country women at Technical Colleges in NSW. The first classes in dressmaking started when Bathurst Technical College opened in 1885. Bathurst was followed by Newcastle in 1887, and Ultimo [Sydney] in 1889.

By 1900, the sewing and dressmaking section had its own identity and became known as the Department of Women’s Handicrafts.

By 1911 dressmaking was taught in 76 country towns and in 1934 the dressmaking course was extended to become a qualification requiring 3 to 4 years of education. The qualification was called the “Certificate in Women’s Handicrafts”.

In the mid 1950’s shorter, more focused, and more practical unit courses were introduced.


In 1959 F M Mitchell wrote:

“Home Sewing is the most feminine of all the arts and crafts. It is an easy way, as well as a basic way, for a woman to add to her femininity, whether she sews for herself, her children or her home.

The woman who sews can be creative, make herself and members of her family attractive and also stretch the family clothing budget.”

Peggy Muldoon’s sewing samples are a reminder of sewing not only for necessity, but importantly as a hobby, for pleasure and relaxation.