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Katherine Jameson (Scott), Dressmaker of 103 Hart Road

My mother Katherine Jameson (Scott), a dressmaker of 103 Hart Road
By Joan Brown

My mother, Katherine Jameson, lived in West Hartlepool where her father was a Police Constable. She went to work as an apprentice milliner and dressmaker in 1906. The fashion was for large decorated hats, and the basic shape was made first in buckram, covered in cloth or velvet, and flowers and feathers finally added. Dresses and skirts were full length, frequently featuring small covered buttons down the front, and on the sleeves; all made by hand of course.
Mother was paid nothing during the first year and few shillings the second. She made all her own clothes and every evening sewed for her mother and three sisters, working by gaslight. The photograph was taken about 1911, mother is the girl wearing the turban and Russian style tunic. I love this photo, as it shows how fashion was being influenced by the Ballet Russe productions. Mother always followed fashion trends, and when we looked at old photographs of her, could always tell me what she was wearing at the time – “ that was a tussore silk coat, a Breton straw hat and Spanish leather shoes with silver buckles”.

In 1916 she borrowed £25 from her mother and set up her own shop and dressmaking business in Annfield Plain, living in one room at the back of the shop. In six months she had paid her mother back. This venture ended in 1919 after she had been ill in the flu epidemic. In 1921 she married my father, Charles Scott. They bought a newspaper and tobacconist shop in Poplar Grove. In 1931 when I was two they sold the shop and mother opened a hat and dress shop at 103 Hart Road, which ran successfully until mother retired in 1948. Dresses were altered free and hats re-trimmed to suit, with the help of Miss Annie Trotter, who worked for mother for many years.
Mother never used a pattern when cutting out a dress and all sewing was done on an old Singer treadle machine with a boat-shaped shuttle: an incredible workhorse, which would go smoothly from sewing georgette to leather. Clothes had to last a long time in those days and I remember one lady coming for a new hat and complaining that hers had faded. She had only been wearing it every day for five years! During the war, some hats were made from re-cycled old ones, and I remember mother holding all new stock up to the light to see if there were any holes in them. She used to go to Robinsons, a wholesaler in Newcastle, and I sometimes had a day off school to go with her as a treat.

Mother lived until a week before her 92nd birthday, and was still doing crochet and tatting. She only wore glasses to read, and never had a cataract; quite remarkable considering the amount of sewing she had done in poor light.

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