Dressmaking Schools

Dressmaker's School, Long Prairie.

The dressmakers were expected to learn the skills necessary to professionally cut and fit custom garments. Traditionally, these skills were learned through apprenticeship but for seamstresses who couldn't afford the years as apprentices or had no opportunity to work under an experienced dressmaker, dressmaking schools proivded the necessary education. At the peak of the trade, schools were established to turn out professional dressmakers able to cut and fit patterns accurately. 

Madame BuChane's Northwestern Dress Cutting School on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis advertised in 1903 that they had provided 17 years of training in the "French and English Tailor system of actual measurements and graduated scales." Madame emphasized perfect fit without repeated fittings which were trying to clients. The school offered several levels of instruction, the most advanced included a complete course in drafting, cutting, basting, boning, sewing, designing, trimming and everything pertaining to the highest grade of dressmaking. "We fit you in this course for position as cutter, manager and forelady." The student could work off a portion of the tuition at the rate of $2.00 per day for experienced dressmakers and $1.00 per day for beginners.  For those who do not yet know how to hold a needle, it was not worth her time to pay the beginning student "as it would require too much attention," She claimed to be the only dressmaking school in the Twin Cities to conduct a dressmaking establishment on the premises promising much experience for students and "a living for the earnest. A fortune for the capable." 

Teacher and pupils in seamstress course, Dawson.

An advertisement from a school in Dawson encourages students to take advantage of a passing opportunity, "positively the last time this will be offered."