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Lake County Past Spotlight: 1939

The girls in this photo are modeling clothes from a WPA Sewing Project. They are holding 11-inch counterpane dolls that were created by a WPA Handicraft Project. Photo from the National Archives and Records Administration.

15 laid off in sewing project

Fifteen of the 22 workers in the Lake County sewing project of the Public Works Administration were laid off last week on account of the 18-month order. It is possible if the quota for the county is not filled after 30 days some of those laid off may be reinstated. A total of 12,813 garments were produced. WPA sewing projects in Minnesota have turned out a total of 4,545,832 garments since the beginning of the work relief program in 1935.

Sponsored by local welfare boards, the projects have made a wide variety of clothing for men, women and children. They were distributed to the needy by welfare agencies. Besides producing articles that otherwise would have to be purchased with local relief funds, sewing projects provided work this past year for 4,652 Minnesota women who are the breadwinners of their families.

Each unit is organized on a business-like basis. Production time is checked carefully. Every effort is made to keep costs at a minimum. Two policies are observed: to avoid uniformity of designs which would make relief clients conspicuous, and to utilize waste materials. As many as 16 variations have been made from one pattern. Scraps are used to make rag rugs and stuffed toys, the latter for distribution to children in hospitals during Christmas time.