Ellen Louise Curtis Demorest
Ellen Louise Demorest, née Curtis, was born in November 15, 1824, Schuylerville, Saratoga, New York. American businesswoman, widely credited with the invention of the mass-produced paper pattern for clothing. Ellen Curtis graduated from Schuylerville Academy at age 18 and then opened a millinery shop.
On April 15, 1858, she married William Jennings Demorest in New York City. During a brief residence in Philadelphia, Ellen Demorest conceived the idea of mass-produced accurate paper patterns for home dressmaking.
In 1859* she opened Madame Demorest’s Emporium of Fashions at 375 Broadway.
Before embarking into pattern making, Ellen Louise Demorest had been a prosperous hat manufacturer. But, when she saw her maid cutting out a dress from some wrapping paper, she was struck with the idea that she could copy fashionable garments on to paper for the home sewer.
Aided by her sister and husband, Ellen Demorest devised a mathematical system to print patterns in a variety of sizes.
In 1860 she began publishing the quarterly M'me Demorest’s Mirror of Fashions, which featured, in addition to the obligatory colour fashion plates, a pattern stapled into each copy. The patterns also were distributed by themselves, soon through a nationwide network of agencies as they proved immensely popular.
The Quarterly Mirror of Fashions became a Monthly
The success of the Mirror of Fashions magazine led to its becoming a expanded monthly magazine.
M'me Jane Cunningham Croly, née Jane Cunningham, pseudonym Jennie June was the chief staff writer for M'me Demorest’s Mirror of Fashions from its founding in 1860 by Ellen Louis Curtis. M'me Demorest and M'me Jane Cunningham, retained that post until 1887. M'me Jane Cunningham at various times was also associated with or contributed to Godey’s Lady’s Book (in 1887–89), Woman’s Cycle (which she founded in 1889 and which merged with the Home-Maker the next year and was named the New Cycle in 1893–96), the Graphic Daily Times, the New York Times, the Messenger, and other periodicals and she continued as New York correspondent for a number of newspapers in other cities. In 1866 she published Jennie June’s American Cookery Book.
By 1865 M'me Demorest was so successful that she had thirty distribution agencies across the nation with over 200 saleswomen. Her success in paper patterns spawned a mail order empire for women eager to acquire the latest fashions and accessories from New York.
In 1868 M'me Demorest helped organize Sorosis, a social club.
In 1873, Demorest joined the printing firm of Little, Rennie & Co. (founded in 1867 by Joseph James Little).
In 1876, the firm became known as Little J.J. & Company.
In 1876, the year of their height in popularity, M'me Ellen Demorest and her husband's company distributed and sold over 3 million patterns.
Ironically, the Demorests failed to patent their paper pattern but another inventor, Ebenezer Butterick, did. Initially Butterick confined his patterns to men's and children's wear.
( Ebenezer Butterick was born in May 29, 1826, Sterling, Mass., U.S. He died in March 31, 1903, Brooklyn, N.Y.. American manufacturer who is regarded as the inventor of standardized paper patterns for clothing (1859), first sold in Sterling in 1863. Butterick established a pattern factory in Fitchburg, Mass., later that year and moved it to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1869. He founded a fashion magazine, Metropolitan, in 1869, to promote pattern sales.)
While her husband established a mail-order operation to deal in sewing aids and other merchandise, Demorest developed a cheap hoop skirt and a new line of corsets, cosmetics, and other products, at the same time presiding over her emporium. She also supported her husband in his reform work, especially the temperance crusade and interested herself in projects for the betterment of opportunities for women. She employed a great many women herself, including a large number of African-American women who worked on the same terms as their white co-workers and hose who objected to her politics were asked to shop elsewhere.
An ardent abolitionist and women's rights advocate, she was active in the management of the New York Medical College for Women and the Welcome Lodging House for Women and Children.
In the 1880's the business declined, in large part because of the Demorest's failure to patent their paper pattern idea and the consequent competition of, among others, Ebenezer Butterick (often credited with having originated the idea).
In 1887 Demorest sold the pattern business.
She passed away on 10 Aug 1898 in Hotel Renaissance, New York City.
In 1854, accordingly with the New York's Directories, Demorest Margaret had a fashion shop at 375, Broadway.
In 1856, Demorest Margaret & Jennings are in New York with their business.
In 1859, M'me Demorest opened her Emporium of Fashion.
Margaret Willamina Demorest, nee Poole
Ellen Louis Demorest, nee Curtis