Alöisia Woschkeruscha's masterpiece, 1912

Alöisia Woschkeruscha’s masterpiece, 1912

Alöisia (Luise, later Louise) Woschkeruscha, my maternal grandmother, apprenticed at Frau Elise Vogel’s dressmaking salon in Vienna,  from July 1, 1906 through July 1, 1909

She received her beautiful “diploma,” the Lehrbrief, shown in the last post, A Pock-marked resume, signed by both Vogel and the Director of Vienna’s Dressmaker’s Collective (union or guild), and was now declared to be a Gehilferin, an assistant, like moving to the “Journey-woman” stage. She was now certified or “licensed,” to work in any  dress shop. She stayed on as Frau Vogel’s assistant in her Viennese Dress Salon.
Detail: notice rosettes surrounding top of high-neck and overlapping material festooned with tiny bows.

Detail: notice rosettes surrounding top of high-neck and overlapping material festooned with tiny bows.

The director of the Dressmakers’ Association also noted in Louise’s Arbeitsbuch  that Louise had successfully completed her apprenticeship. The Arbetisbuch entry (below, right) was important, because that is the “resume” she’d show to potential employers, rather than the huge (about 12 X 17) diploma (Lehrbrief).

sleeve detail Note flowered fabric

sleeve detail
Note flowered fabric

Louise worked in Frau Vogel’s dress shop for the next three years. In 1912, Louise created her Masterpiece, the dress pictured above and in the close-ups. Elegant and detailed, her gorgeous dress shows off the wide range of skills she had acquired in six years of training.

The material she chose is flowered. She continues the flower theme in the rosettes that edge the high collar. Pearls are festooned down the chest which is V-framed in what appears to be lace. Pearls splash the peaked waistband.  I’m no seamstress, so I’m not even sure how to describe the tucks and overlaps that appear on the bodice, sleeves, and neckline. Every detail testifies to her creativity, workmanship, and eye for beauty. I have little doubt it was the finest in the class, as Louise always contended, but her dress was awarded second place. According to Louise, first place had to go to the mayor’s daughter.
If Louise’s description of a “competition” is accurate, then other young women from her class must have also stayed on to complete their training in the Vogel Dress Salon as “Journey-women.”

Because this photograph/pencil drawing (an artist penciled in detail to the original photograph) is dated 1912, it had to have been created at the very end of her work with Frau Vogel, who then wrote a Zeugnis, “Recommendation” into Louise’s Arbeitsbuch (resume book), shown right, on page 13. Louise left the salon on February 2, 1913,  and Elise Vogel wrote her recommendation a month later, on March 1, 1913.

Elise Vogel's Recommendation

Elise Vogel’s Recommendation

Date of Departure [from salon]


The undersigned confirms herewith that Miss Luise Woschkeruscha, from the date of entry [noted as 7/1/1909]  to this date, six years,  has worked very industriously and has also learned to beautifully tailor jackets, coats, bodices/corsettes, [and] skirts so that this young woman is recommended to any [dressmaking] Salon and has conducted herself to the fullest satisfaction in every respect [for this] recognition.

Marketplace, Leobersdorf, near Vienna
E. Vogel
Dress salon
Leobersdorf on the first of March, 1913
Signed by Elise Vogel.

Louise must have already had her plans in place to leave for America when this recommendation was written, for in less than two weeks, that’s just what she’d do.
Next week: Louise takes her skills to Chicago.