Alternative Name(s): Wedding Dress, Wedding Outfit

Pink/salmon coloured wedding dress worn by Bertha Ruby May Whibley at her marriage to Francis George Eckermann in Melbourne in 1935. Bertha is depicted wearing the wedding dress in MM 146679.

The dress was made by one or more of her sisters for the occasion - an important example of a home-made garment from an economically-struggling family. Bertha was born in 1908 in Kyneton, Victoria. She was the youngest of 10 children from a very poor family. Bertha left school at the age of 14, and worked for 13 years in shoe factories, including Raymond's shoe factory (G.N. Raymond, Easy St, Collingwood), where she meet Anita Eckermann, sister to her future husband Francis George Eckermann, of German ancestry. Francis was a mechanic and a heavy vehicle transport interstate driver. He had also worked as a horseback drover, bringing cattle into Melbourne. Bertha and Francis met in 1933 and were married on 15 June 1935 in a Methodist minister's house in Moonee Ponds/Essendon/Ascot Vale.

They settled in Essendon and soon started a family, welcoming two sons and a daughter (who tragically died as an infant). In 1946 they moved to a run-down poultry farm in Forest Hill they bought with the help of other family members, processing chickens and selling eggs. The farm was sold in 1970 for subdivision. Francis died in 1982; Bertha died in 2002.

Physical Description

Pink/salmon coloured ensemble comprising top, skirt and matching belt with silver buckle. Long top extends over long skirt, worn mid calf. Top has high waist with loops for belt, faggot stitching on arms and two strips of material from neckline to be tied in bow at back. Long skirt has sewn-down pleats that flare from knee; cream band waist with elastic panel and short wooden stays (or similar); hook and eye fasteners and press studs at back. Two short cream bands extend upwards from waist, perhaps for hanging storage. Ensemble is handmade using machine stitching and hand stitching. Inside waist is cut roughly and crooked. Some foxing on ensemble, damage to neckline and faggot stitching has loosened.

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