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4. Technology

  November 4th, 2015

Mary Dixon Kies’ invention was her patent for weaving straw with silk to make beautiful bonnets or hats. Her patent was destroyed in a fire in 1836 so we are unclear of what her process was. But the people from Davison.com found through their research that she probably “used silk thread instead of another piece of straw to hold the cross hatching together” (Mary Dixon Kies: First American Woman to Receive a Patent 2015). This method was easier than other methods and provided a much sturdier hat.

Another source found Betsey Metcalf’s process for making hats, but we don’t know if Kies’ process was similar or different to this one. Metcalf’s process started with “lengths of water soaked straw were plaited into braids. These were then sewn together with an invisible stitch while blocked on a wooden mold to form the crown” (Braiding Straw Bonnets 2015).

It sounds like all the hats were made by hand and that no machines were used. Kies probably bought the silk she used in the process and got the straw from the fields she worked in.

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