Celebrating Women’s History Month as a teacher of the sewing arts, I would like to share the history of Mary Brooks Picken, the most influential woman of sewing fashion at home. She is the author of
96 sewing and fashion books, founded the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences in Pennsylvania, taught Economics of Fashion at Columbia University, and was one of the founding directors of Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
By the time Mary Brooks Picken was 28 years old she had written 64 textbooks and two courses at the International Correspondence School.
By the 1920's she was influencing women
globally to learn sewing and fashion skills that helped them earn money for the home, open their own businesses, and support themselves, which was all highly unusual for the time.
Advancing her career in the 1930’s Mary started working in advertising with Singer Sewing, Dennison Crafts, and The Spool Cotton Company. In 1939, not only did she release 3 new books on fashion, she opened the Mary Brooks Picken school on Madison Avenue in New York.
The Singer Sewing Book, was written by Mary in 1949 and sold 380,000 copies in 2 years, and at its completion of printing sold over 8 million copies. At 74 years old, she was syndicated, writing fashion articles that reached over 300 newspapers.
This amazing woman not only led an extraordinary life sewing and writing, she encouraged women to take pride in their skills, craftsmanship, and be entrepreneurs themselves. Today, as we explore the world of sewing, we are embracing the journey of Mary Brooks Picken.