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American History
Leupp Hall-Mrs. Ross, Sewing


      At one time the sewing classes at Chilocco Indian School were more than just training for the girls.  They were actually a needed service for the school. The uniforms the girls wore were turned out by the Home Economic classes. This factory type production of garments allowed the young woman to become a fine seamstress when she returned to her family and then later on with her own children. The beautiful regalia of the Ponca people which is built on stylish ribbon work designs down the front of the dress and around the bottom on the skirt is achieved easily when my mother uses her sewing skills she learned at Chilocco.

     Mother remembers learning to sew the dresses that would become the girl's uniforms. They also made the capes to go over the dresses.  The upper class women created embroidered work for use on the table clothes and linens. Other skills she learned were: flat fell seams, the kind used to sew blue jeans today, binding, cutting and sewing bias tape strips, button holes,  bound button holes for coats, cutting skirt patterns on the bias and cutting of patterns for garments.

      When I was in sewing class our teacher, Ms. Ross, had the project of teaching us to make a wool garment. Mother had to buy the material and bring it from home. The fabric was a soft, delicate weight and I was able to sew it up into an attractive dress. I wore it for many years. In fact when it finally showed signs of wear on the arms I took the fabric, cut a dress pattern out of it for my girl and sewed that up.

      Ms. Ross was beginning to show her age. She was a lady who had grey hair. Whether her walk was caused from the heavy, square heeled shoe or from her age wasn't known. The longer dresses she wore were well fitted and attractive. If her shoes were a bit out of style it wasn't that noticeable.  It seemed she may have had a touch of arthritis. It didn't dampen her spirits if she did. Still, she had held her good figure. The woman was always cheerful, patient and willing to help the girls do their best. Somehow her easy-going manner was contagious and we always enjoyed classes with her.  The other class she taught was practice-cottage and the children's nursery class. But that is another story.


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