Weigel is an Australian Pattern Company
Madame Weigel was born in Poland and travelled to the US where she worked as a designer for McCalls. She married and came to Melbourne on her honeymoon and stayed.
By her own account, after many requests from friends who admired her dress sense Johanna Weigel started to cut patterns from her own clothes and give them away. The easy-to-follow instructions for measuring, cutting and sewing made the patterns popular and their increasing success led her and Oscar to start their fashion business in 1877 in premises in Lennox Street, Richmond. They imported all their printing machines and tissue paper and soon established offices in central Melbourne and Sydney and agencies throughout Australia and New Zealand.
In 1880 they started Weigel's Journal of Fashion, a monthly subscription journal that claimed to be the first fashion magazine to be designed, published and printed in Australia. It included illustrated fashion articles, housekeeping hints and serialized fiction. The impact of her patterns and journal on women and their families, particularly in country areas, was considerable. Miles Franklin later wrote that her mother was a regular subscriber to the Journal:
“It was an 'elegancy' to which she clung through the leanest lean years . . . Mother always dressed herself and us by Madame W's paper patterns . . . Madame Weigel was to me a figure of legend as Mrs Beeton or 'The Ingoldsby Legends'.”
Madame Weigel died in 1940. Amongst other beneficiaries she left the residue of her estate to the employees of Madame Weigel Pty Ltd, which continued until at least the 1960s. On the death of the last surviving employee in 1972 the final distribution of her estate was made to five hospitals named in her will.
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