The business of dressmaking.

Mary Lorch 1900-1934

Mary Lorch was born in Minnesota of German immigrant parents. Early in her career, she lived with her parents and siblings while she worked as a seamstress/dressmaker for various businesses. Changing employers nearly every year starting about 1900, she worked for Hattrix English, Mrs. C. B. Weinberger and E. V. Delevan. Changing employers was not uncommon for seamstresses. Often the work was seasonal and after a summer break, a new workforce was assembled. She was married and divorced, and continued to work either in dressmaking shops or doing day work with families, particularly along Summit Avenue. After 1920, she opened her own shop and continued to work until at least 1934. Lorch continued to live in her family home with her large and supportive family, including several siblings and her daughter, Gladys.

Ivory satin wedding gown

A special occasion dress could bring a one-time client to a dressmaker. Helen Fuller wore a dress by Mary Lorch for her wedding to Harry C. Lawton on September 12, 1912. Helen was a well-known St. Paul sculptor. In the early 1910s, some brides took to wearing straight, slender, satiny-smooth dresses with high "Empire" waistlines, inspired by the designs of French couturier Paul Poirot. Tunic overskirts and loose-knotted tassels reflected Grecian influences of the period.

See the online exhibit: Happily Ever After

For Helen Fuller Lawton papers, see Helen Fuller Lawton papers, 1906-1936

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