March is one of my favorite months of the year. First, our wedding anniversary is March 28 so this month is always special for Dusty and me. (This year marks year number thirty eight!) I also look forward to March each year because of its designations as National Nutrition Month and Women’s History Month—two of my passions.
I’d like to kick March off a day early by sharing the accomplishments of a remarkable woman you have probably never heard of. Like so many accomplished women, her name has been lost in history even though her invention continues to impact our lives every day.
Ellen Curtis Demorest (1824 – 1898) was born in Schuylerville, New York. Inspired by a fashion show in nearby Saratoga, 18-year-old Nell (as she was called) set up her own millinery shop. A very bold move for a young woman at that time! Business was brisk, reflecting Nell’s natural flair for fashion. Eventually Nell moved her business to New York City where she met and married William Jennings Demorest.
After watching her maid use brown paper to cut a crude dress pattern, Nell hit upon the idea of creating simplified but standardized mass-produced paper dress patterns for home use.
Where would Family and Consumer Science educators who teach fashion and apparel be without these standardized paper patterns? During Women’s History Month let’s celebrate Ellen Curtis Demorest as a FACS Hero! She’s just one of the inventive and ground-breaking women who broke important ground for the rest of us.
You can learn more about Ellen Curtis Demorest at: