The history of American female inventors is as old as our country. However, women often had to work with men in order to receive a patent and move into the business world. By 1910, women still accounted for less than 1% of all patents issued in the United States.(1) Successful women inventors often came up with solutions for household problems, being subject-matter experts themselves. In 1910, 21% of the U.S. labor force was women.(2) The majority of women and girls knew how to sew and did so on an almost daily basis. Not all sewing was out of necessity or at the level of the 19th century. Ideas to improve their notions and tools were readily at hand.
The Louise All-In-One sewing stand was invented and patented (Patent 967,941) by Louise B. Laridon on August 23, 1910. In her patent application, Louise stated her goals for the stand were to provide a sewing aid that was compact, attractive, durable, and economical to produce. Putting her name on the base of the All-In-One may have also been a marketing strategy to imply a female endorsement to the usefulness of the sewing stand.
The All-In-One has the appearance of sterling silver at first glance and has an appealing size for table-top use. The design consists of a round sheet-metal base topped with a revolving ten-armed disc. Each arm on the disc has a post for holding spools of thread. In the center of the disc is another piece of metal with three arms. There is an arm mounted with a velvet-topped pin cushion for needles and pins, a cup for holding a thimble, and an upright sheath to hold scissors. Louise also designed the attached scissor sheath to be used as a handle to carry the All-In-One.
Louise holds two other patents, for a garment stiffener (1909) and a collar supporter (1912), plus one for a similar sewing stand with fewer arms (Patent 40,861 in 1910). This makes Louise part of the 1% of female inventors in early 20th century America. Like other female inventors, little else can be found about Louise or the manufacture of the Louise All-In-One.
- Exploring the History of Women Inventors
- 1910, United States Census
Dawn Cook Ronningen is the author of Antique American Needlework Tools (Schiffer 2018). She lives in Minnesota, where she enjoys her extensive collection of antique textiles, embroidery, and needlework tools. She shares her collections on her blog, “Collector With A Needle” and through various in person and virtual programs.