Well, that's interesting

While researching a pattern I typically come across a variety of materials that just don't fit the topic at hand but deserve to see some light. This page is the equivalent of that unwieldy, unsorted folder all researchers seem to have. You know the one: sometimes the cat is asleep on it, and sometimes a mug of tea gets spilled on it.

In no particular order:

From the Spokane Washington Spokesman-Review, February 26, 1899


Most Gowns Worn by Americans Made by Themselves


Despite the tremendous number of professional dressmakers probably three-quarters of the dresses worn by American women are made by their own hands. Home dressmaking, too, is constantly improving and increasing both in the country and in cities. The perfection of paper patterns is directly responsible for the improvement and increase in this branch of home industry. This pattern business has grown to enormous proportions, and, while it is strictly an American institution, it is now finding its way into Great Britain and the countries of Europe. The people over there like our paper patterns and are beginning to make large demands for them, says a writer in the New York Sun.

Some people have an idea that only country women or city women of very limited incomes do their own dressmaking. In this supposition they are vastly mistaken. Women living in small towns or in the country do make their own gowns, but the very poor of the cities as a rule do not know how to sew well enough to do this. They are compelled to wear the very cheapest grade of ready-made garments. Two classes of city women who do most of their own sewing are the upper middle and middle classes. They have generous enough allowances, but realize that it takes a small sized fortune yearly to supply all the gowns necessary to their station in life when made by even a moderate priced modiste or tailor. Of course the very wealthy demand dressmakers who can create and not copy.

Women living on farms or in isolated and remote settlements would be lost without the paper patterns and the fashion sheets and magazines issued by people in the pattern business. Between 30,000,000 and 40,000,000 fashion sheets are distributed free of charge annually in the United States, and those who know estimate that nearly as many patterns are sold.

"The paper pattern is entirely an American institution," said the manager of one of the oldest concerns in the country," and it has undoubtedly taught more women the art of dressmaking than all of the sewing schools in the world put together. Most people suppose that the paper pattern is a foreign product. That is because we receive many of our fashions from Europe and adapt them to American needs through illustrations and patterns. On the other hand, the patterns produced here are sold in London, Vienna, Berlin and Hamburg at about the same prices they bring here. The French people have not adopted our paper patterns yet. That is because France is the home of dressmaking of high and low prices.

"The paper pattern business first became known in 1864 and 1865. Of those concerns established prior to 1870 two are still in the field. A large number have started in the last 30 years, but most of them have come to grief, and nearly all because the art of cutting, fitting and designing was not understood in every detail. To understand the pattern business one must be a practical dressmaker. The two things cannot be separated.

"No women in the world are so well informed about about dressmaking or so well dressed as the American women. Somebody will say: "the French women dress better." Perhaps a few Parisians do, although I don't think so, but how about the country women in France? Take our American women the states over, from lowest to highest, and they are the best dressed women in the world, I tell you.

No women help themselves so mach as American women."

[An interesting mix of puffery, a few fairly good facts, and some outright misapprehensions. It's interesting to get a perspective on sewing patterns just 30 years into the industry's existence. If the manager quoted actually existed, I would bet on them being with Butterick.]