Harriet A. Brown Patent Drawing for a "Waist"

Harriet A. Brown1888-11-06

National Women’s History Museum

National Women’s History Museum
Alexandria, VA, United States

Harriet A. Brown was an American dressmaker (1847 - 1930). She invented a unique system for cutting and sewing clothing. She taught her system in her Boston, Massachusetts studio and later through correspondence classes. She promoted her system and classes as a method for working women to gain financial independence.

Her patent, filed in 1857, was awarded in 1888. According to her book "Scientific dress cutting and making, "The Harriet A. Brown system", she aggressively defended her patents in court.

The text of the patent application follows.

(No Model.)



No. 392,493. Patented Nov. 6, 1888.

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SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 392,493, dated November 6, 1888.

Application filed November 18, 1857. Serial No. 255.556. (No model.)

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that I, HARRIET A. BROWN, a citizen of the United States, residing at Boston, in the county of Suffolk and State of Massachusetts, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Dress \Vaists, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawings.

The object of my invention is an improvement in the fit and appearance of dress-waists; and it consists in the form, adaptation, and combination of parts or pieces of a dress-waist, as hereinafter set forth, and specifically pointed out in the claim.

In the drawings, Figures 1 and 2 are two views of a dress-waist embodying my invention. Fig. 3 shows the piece to form the front and back of one-half of the waist. Fig. 4 shows the piece to form a side piece of the back. Fig. 5 shows one and Fig. 6 the other piece for a side of the waist.

Each half of the common drcss-waist,which is designed to conform closely to the figure of the person, is composed of these pieces namely, a front, A, back B, side piece of-the back, 0, and one piece at the sidein place of the two side pieces, Dan d E, the front piece being bifurcated at its lower part.

The front and back has heretofore been of two pieces joined together by means of aseam on the shoulder, the position of which seam being indicated by the dotted line a. I make the front and back of one piece, as shown. Not only is the labor of making the seam on the shoulder thus dispensed with, but the waist presents a much better appearance without such seam. The improved effect is particularly noticeable and pleasing when striped material is employed, since the stripes may extend over the shoulder without a break.

It is common to cut the front so that it is bifurcated at the lower part; but the two eX- tensions have heretofore been broad at the lower edge of the waist and the fit not as perfect as desired. I cut the front so that a much better effect is attained. It is not necessary to specify herein the particular curves or degree of curvature of these extensions 1) and c as cut by me, since I am able to gain the desired result mainly from the fact that I bring the part c at the front of the waist to a point at its lower end in such a manner that the part c is tapering substantially through its entire length, making what I term a needlepoint. By having the part 0 thus pointed the waist may be caused to conform to the curvature of the form at this part more perfectly and readily than it has been possible heretofore. I use two pieces, D and E, at the side of the waist instead of one, as heretofore. I have found that it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to cause a drcsswaist to conform at the sides to a very short-waisted or corpulent person by the employment of only one piece at the side. Though each of the side pieces which I use does not differ materially in general shape from the one piece in common use, yet the outlines may be so changed as to degree of curvature, &c., according to the measurements for a person, by the employment of two pieces that the general and specific form of the two when combined is quite different from that of the one alone, and the effect is much more pleasing and satisfactory.

Either of the several parts of my invention may be employed Without the others, the other parts of the dress-waist being of the ordinary make.

Therefore I claim as my invention- A dress-waist each half of which is formed of a front and back of one piece, a side piece at the back, and two side pieces between said side piece of the back and the front, the front being bifurcated and having the extension at the front pointed and tapering substantially through its entire length, substantially as specified.





  • Title: Harriet A. Brown Patent Drawing for a "Waist"
  • Creator: Harriet A. Brown
  • Date Created: 1888-11-06
  • Subject Keywords: Women's History, Fashion, Shirtwaist, Dressmaking, Patents, Inventions, Inventor, Women Inventor
  • Rights: No known rights restrictions.

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