Going behind the seams of The Dressmaker at the National Film and Sound Archive

Asked whether she had kept any of the costumes from The Dressmaker for herself, the film's producer, Sue Maslin, was emphatic.

She had not.

Actress Sacha Holer next to a wedding dress designed for The Dressmaker at the exhibition of costumes from the film at the National Film and Sound Archive. Photo: Karleen Minney.

Actress Sacha Holer next to a wedding dress designed for The Dressmaker at the exhibition of costumes from the film at the National Film and Sound Archive. Photo: Karleen Minney.

The corsets necessary to fit into the 1950s-style period dresses were a deal-breaker, apparently.

Instead, Maslin donated more than two dozen original costumes from the 2015 Australian film to the National Film and Sound Archive. Canberra is the final destination of the touring exhibition.

The costumes were designed by Marion Boyce, who also curated the exhibition, and Margot Wilson, who designed lead actress Kate Winslet's costumes so they would have a different look.

The costumes - ranging from wedding dresses to suits to a toreador outfit - will be on display from Thursday, April 17 until August 18.

Based on the novel by Rosalie Ham, The Dressmaker, directed and co-written by Jocelyn Moorhouse, tells the story of Tilly Dunnage (played by Winslet), who returns to her home town of Dungatar in 1951.

Producer of the blockbuster movie, Sue Maslin, at The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition at the National Film and Sound Archive on Wednesday. Photo: Karleen Minney.

Producer of the blockbuster movie, Sue Maslin, at The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition at the National Film and Sound Archive on Wednesday. Photo: Karleen Minney.

She had left as a child after being blamed for a schoolmate's death and learned dressmaking in Europe. Her haute couture designs take the town by storm, but then another dressmaker, Una Pleasance (Sacha Horler), comes to Dungatar and a fierce battle is the result.

Maslin - who spent 15 years getting the book to the screen - said she and Ham both grew up in small towns in the Riverina.

"I fell in love with telling the story of a little Australian country town ... and what happens when one of their own returns," she said.

She and Moorhouse envisaged the film as a Western, with the rival dressmakers using Singer sewing machines rather than six-shooters as their weapons.

The Dressmaker costume exhibition, at the National Film and Sound Archive. Photo by Karleen Minney.

The Dressmaker costume exhibition, at the National Film and Sound Archive. Photo by Karleen Minney.

Women's clothing in the period, she said, was more about the silhouette and the message it conveyed than about comfort. While fashions have changed and usually feel better to wear, she said women still faced pressures about their appearance.

The Dressmaker Costume Exhibition is on at the National Film and Sound Archive until August 18. nfsa.gov.au.