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2004/148/1 Dressmaking kit, for sport and seaside outfit, boxed, with instructions, paper / cardboard / cotton, by Sonderegger & Co, Herisau, Switzerland, 1927-1929. Click to enlarge.

Dressmaking kit

Made 1927-1929
Beaches and jaunts to the country became a very important part of summer life by the mid 1920s. The motor car opened up a whole new social life and there was a need for a different wardrobe to go with this new physical activity. Spectatorship was as important as participation. 'Taking the waters' at spa resorts - particularly in Germany and Italy - had already established the need for numerous daily changes of clothing to match the mood of the moment.

In cut and colour, this dress is typical of mid decade fashion. Pastel colours were popular and the embroidery shows the influence of folk and exotic motifs. Coco Chanel's ideas influenced many of the designs of this period. Straight cut clothes that were both comfortable and easy to move in were suitable for trips to the seaside or to the country.

This kit demonstrates the growing accessibility of fashionable dress. Complete with embroidered inserts, washing instructions and an illustration of finished product, it demonstrates the 'briefing' for the dressmaker or for the home dressmaker. Although it was never assembled, there must have been many just like it, exported for women who wanted to take advantage of the craze for beachgoing. In many ways, there is more to be drawn from this unassembled kit than from a garment already fabricated. The washing instructions accompanying it are lengthy and are a good example of liability limitations on the part of the manufacturer. The lack of sewing instructions suggests the dressmaker was expected to be competent.

The illustration suggests the kit dates from 1927-1929. This kit complements a comprehensive collection of early beach and summer wear held at Powerhouse Museum.


Object No.


Object Statement

Dressmaking kit, for sport and seaside outfit, boxed, with instructions, paper / cardboard / cotton, by Sonderegger & Co, Herisau, Switzerland, 1927-1929

Physical Description

A kit of fabric and embroidery in its original packaging to make a casual dress for 'sport and seaside'. There are four pieces of fabric: a length of coral linen or cotton (possibly imitation linen), tied with ribbon; a length of cream linen or cotton tied with ribbon; a border pattern, cream coloured, with coral and black stylised fold pattern embroidery; and a diamond-shaped embroidered motif to be placed at the front of the garment. Paper material accompanying the fabric includes: labelled cardboard box with wrapping tissue; washing instructions; illustration of the finished product; and a list of contents. The list of contents gives measurements for the fabric: the white or cream linen is 1 yard 19 inches long and 30 inches wide and is to be used for the upper part of the dress; the larger border pattern is 1 yard 19 inches long and 4 1/2 inches wide and the coral material is 2 yards 10 inches long and 30 inches wide, to be used for the skirt and the collar.


Printed on lid of box, 'BRODERIES UNIVERSELLES / Marque de Fabrique / S.-A. CI-DEVANT / SONDEREGGER & CO / HERISAU / (SUISSE)'.



480 mm


340 mm


32 mm





The kit was made by Sonderegger & Co in Herisau, Switzerland, 1927-1929. The accompanying page which lists the contents indicates that the kit came in two models: one with white and coral material and black and red embroidery and the other with white and green material and green and lilac embroidery. This example is obviously the first of these. The white and coral model had a code word of 'Quael', while the white and green model's code word was 'Quagn'. The style number, presumably covering both versions, was 31283.



The kit came into the possession of Megan Waters, possibly from a family friend, from a house in Warwick, Queensland. Ms Waters offered it to the Powerhouse Museum in late May 2003.


Credit Line

Gift of Megan Waters, 2004

Acquisition Date

29 October 2004

Cite this Object


Dressmaking kit 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 12 August 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Dressmaking kit |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=12 August 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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