The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.
2010/11/21 Milk jug cover, filet crochet, cotton / plastic, emu design, maker unknown, Australia, 1910-1930. Click to enlarge.

Filet crochet 'emu' milk jug cover

This filet crochet milk jug cover has an emu design worked in the centre. It forms part of a collection of 19th and 20th century Australian embroidery and needlework, given to the Museum by Ian Rumsey and known as the Ian Rumsey Australian Textiles Collection. The collection was assembled by the donor, a private collector, over two decades and includes doily, milk jug covers, tablecloths, placemats, towels, banners, aprons, samplers, runners and cushion covers, all featuring Australian motifs. …


Object No.


Object Statement

Milk jug cover, filet crochet, cotton / plastic, emu design, maker unknown, Australia, 1910-1930

Physical Description

Milk jug cover, filet crochet, cotton / plastic, emu design, maker unknown, Australia, 1910-1930

A small square milk jug cover made from open and closed filet crochet in white cotton. The design has a standing emu motif. The edge has blue (12) and red (7) beads worked into the border which would act as weights..


No marks



135 mm




This square doilies is worked in filet crochet, whose basis is an open grid formed by chain and treble crochet. The patterns for filet crochet, in this instance an emu, are designed on graph paper and created by filling relevant squares of the crochet grid with two treble crochets rather than leaving them open. The red and blue beads were added to the outer row as they were worked.

Crochet covers for milk jugs, teacups and bowls were produced to repel the dreaded Australian blow fly. They were typically decorated with Australian flora and fauna and commemorative motifs and sometimes edged with beads, shells and other three dimensional forms, not only for appearance, but also to weigh down the crochet so it would stay safely in place on the jug. The three dimensional parts were stiffened with sugar syrup, or sometimes starch, paraffin or gelatine.

The main sources for crochet cover and other needlework designs available to women were in journals, magazines and pattern books. Well known late 19th and early 20th century designers included Grace Valentine, Bertha Maxwell, Mary Card and Muriel Arnold.



Part of a collection of well-preserved Australian needlework and embroidery of the early to mid 1900s, featuring Australian motifs and assembled by the donor Ian Rumsey over two decades. One of the principal sources for his collection was the late Nerylla Taunton, a widely respected Sydney antiques dealer who specialised in needlework and was a registered Australian government valuer for this class of object.

From the mid-19th century, needlework was a popular pastime among women, and the skills and techniques of decorative and plain sewing was both encouraged and expected of them (needlework was part of the school curriculum in the 19th century).


Credit Line

Gift of Ian Rumsey, 2010

Acquisition Date

22 March 2010

Cite this Object


Filet crochet 'emu' milk jug cover 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 9 February 2023, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Filet crochet 'emu' milk jug cover |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=9 February 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}