Miss Mix [was] the dressmaker who…toward the last of the month…came to the Rays every day for a week. She sewed only in Mrs. Ray’s bedroom, but bright scraps of cloth and snarls of thread, like the hum of her machine, permeated everywhere. Miss Mix was a favored character. She went to the Twin Cities often, bringing back the latest styles, the newest coiffures, not only in fashion books but on her person. She worked silently, swiftly, intent upon materials, trimmings, patterns, seeming to take little interest in the wearers of the beautiful clothes she produced. ~ Excerpt from Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace

At the turn of the 20th century about 75% of clothing was made at home. Often the materials were picked out at a dry goods store, and a tailor or seamstress made the dresses, shirts, and so forth. Most seamstresses would come into the home to sew clothes for the family.

Lovelace sewing machine

On display at the Blue Earth County Historical Society is the sewing machine that belonged to Maud’s mother, Stella Palmer Hart.

In a letter written in 1975, Maud describes her mother as a good seamstress: “She sewed beautifully and made us children such pretty clothes. After we moved to Fifth Street and Daddy was earning more money, she had a dressmaker spring and fall to help her, but when we were children she did it herself.”

 

 

 

Maud Palmer Hart in her high school graduation dress, 1910 © Estate of Merian Kirchner

Maud Palmer Hart in her high school graduation dress, 1910
© Estate of Merian Kirchner

Miss Amelia Rausch (Miss Mix) was the dressmaker who helped Mrs. Hart. In April 1910 Maud noted in her diary: “Miss Roush [sic] is here making my commencement clothes.” She described her graduation dress in Betsy and Joe: This was the first appearance of the graduation dress. It was a fine white voile, trimmed with yards of lace and insertion, ankle-length, with elbow sleeves.

~Excerpt from Maud Hart Lovelace’s Deep Valley by Julie Schrader

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