All Sewn Up: Millinery, Dressmaking, Clothing and Costume

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This digital collection includes millinery, dressmaking, clothing and costume books from the UW-Madison collections. These books from the first half of the 20th century (1907 – 1940’s) include the history of clothing, styles of dress, fashion drawing, and design and construction of hats, clothing and costumes. Items in this collection will appeal to vintage clothing collectors, those studying costume design, fashion, and women’s history, and those who just enjoy reminiscing about days gone by.

Millinery and dressmaking were popular professions for women in the decades before and just after the turn of the 20th century. The 1900 census1 reported 338,144 women dressmakers, 138,724 seamstresses, and 82,936 women milliners in the continental United States. Dressmaking ranked third, seamstressing ranked ninth, and millinery ranked fourteenth among occupations for women breadwinners.

Summer courses in millinery and dressmaking were offered by the Home Economics department of the UW-Madison’s School of Agriculture during the 1910’s and 1920’s. Perhaps Miss Schmit, Miss Dodge, Miss Arbogast, Miss Musgrave or one of the other instructors introduced some of these books to their summer students. In any event, the digitized versions will serve to preserve millinery and dressmaking history and techniques, and reintroduce them to a new generation of scholars and practitioners.

1 “Statistics of Women at Work; Based on Unpublished Information Derived from Schedules of the Twelfth Census, 1900” (Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Census) Washington 1907