The renowned Edna Bryte Bishop was the youngest daughter of Henry Harrison Plance and Margaret Jane Mahaffey in a family of eight children – four girls and four boys. 

Born in McDonald, Pennsylvania on July 31, 1886, she was named Annie Edna Plance and until her death on April 25th, 1968, she continued to live all her life in the house where she was born.

As in most families, the younger children wore hand me down clothes and so it was that Annie realized at a very early age that clothes she was wearing were not right for her and so she created a desire to make people feel and look better in their own clothes.  At the age of twelve, she began sewing for herself, her family and her friends.

Annie’s interest in sewing continued after graduating from McDonald High School.  To further her education, she attended a teacher training institution for elementary school teachers and received her State Certification.  Later, she attended Teachers’ College, Columbia University, and Boston University.

While completing her education, she worked for McCreery, New York City, as fitter for five years.  She also worked at Kaufman in Pittsburgh, PA, in charge of alterations for four years.

In 1917, education and trade experience in hand, she accepted her first teaching job at the Fanning Trade School for Girls in Worcester, MA.  She conducted teacher training courses at New Jersey College for Women and became Associate Professor at Syracuse University, training teachers in simplified sewing techniques.  In 1927, Annie Edna Plance, now known as Edna Bryte, became Fashion Director at the internationally known Amos Parrish Fashion Clinic of New York City for twelve clinics.  Edna then traveled to London and Paris in the 1930’s, where she worked in the Schiaparelle House of Fashion Design.  

Returning to McDonald, PA in 1942, known as Edna Bryte, she then married
1483 Charles Bishop, and they worked together as a team until Mr. Bishop’s death in 1964. 

By 1948, under the sponsorship of JC Penney Company the first printed information on the Bishop Method became available.  Booklets were eventually developed in 1952 and 1953 which replaced the old materials.  These booklets were used in educational programs for universities, colleges and for home economic supervisors.  

Advance Pattern Company, Inc. appointed Edna Bryte Bishop Educational Director in 1953 to coordinate all of the educational activities of the company and under her supervision, a new series of sewing techniques and teaching aides were completed for distribution to home economic teachers and 4-H readers.

In 1955, Edna Bryte Bishop and Advance Pattern Company announced the New Easy Printed Patterns.

On December 1, 1955, the Record-Outlook Newspaper of Mcdonald, PA reported that on November 9, 1955, Mrs. Bishop received a commendation from the city of Los Angeles, CA, which commended her for her work in her chosen field.

It read as follows: “Whereas, Mrs. Edna Bryte Bishop, Educational Director of the Advance Pattern Company, Inc. for the past twenty five years, has revolutionized the method of teaching home clothing construction, thereby bringing added style and fashion into home dressmaking and whereas, her clinics and workshops have been conducted throughout the United States for the benefit of home economics and clothing construction teachers in the elementary and high schools, universities and colleges, and her efficient, easy-to-learn methods have become an integral part of many large mercantile and industrial firms; and  whereas, Mrs. Bishop, who is now in the city of Los Angeles for this purpose, is making a series of clinic appearances for educators in clothing construction and home economics throughout the state of California; now, therefore, be it resolved, that this city council does hereby extend the city’s greetings to Mrs. Edna Bryte Bishop and does offer her its sincere wish for continuing success in this exceptionally worthwhile contribution to the field of education and home.” This was presented by Ernest E. Debs, Councilman, 13th District.  Seconded by Harold A. Henry, Councilman, 4th District.
Mrs. Bishop also received a heart-warming letter of welcome from Elmer E. Robinson, Mayor of San Francisco, while she was conducting her clinic in that city.

The Pittsburgh Press, on March 3, 1957 posted an article by Leonard Thompson, Press Staff Writer.

"Queen of Seamstresses Edna Bryte Bishop district woman wins nation-wide recognition for historypic3sewing method that makes homemade clothes look custom tailored.  Like a "Johnny Appleseed" of the sewing machine. The Bishop Method is fast becoming the most popular technique in the country. Thousands of women in the Pittsburgh area have been enrolled in sewing classes that show them how to do it easier.”

The first Bishop Method of Clothing Construction book was published in 1959 and was revised in 1966.  A third book, Fashion Sewing by the Bishop Method was published in 1966 as well.
At just about the time when Womens Wear Daily (WWD) took a look at the home sewing explosion, an article captioned, “The
Second Lady Sews”, by a correspondent of the Washington Bureau of Womens Wear Daily, March issue was discovered by a member of the Bishop council.  It reported that Mrs. Muriel Humphry, wife of the 38th vice-president of the United States, endorsed the Bishop Method of Clothing Construction and her reasons therefore.  “I prefer the Bishop Method because it teaches basic construction and understanding of materials….something beginners are tempted to skip.”

Annie Edna Plance became an educator influencing American culture.  She revolutionized the home sewing industry.  She met the needs of the time and today remains a cultural icon in the hearts of dedicated disciples of the Bishop Method.

Seen at the head of a classroom or a sewing construction clinic, Edna Bishop was a vivacious, gray-haired lady.  She often wore white, horn-rimmed, harlequin glasses and white elbow length gloves.  A pearl necklace on occasion complemented her outfits and always a pincushion on her wrist.

Often, she was accused of having grain line on her eye glasses as she critiqued her students. Mrs. Bishop's favorite phrase was “Not too much too soon” and claimed home sewing should look professional – without what she described as that “Fireside Touch”.

The spirit of Annie Edna Plance Bishop still remains in McDonald, PA.

Just a few blocks from the Bishop homestead is the McDonald Trail Station. This old railroad station along the Panhandle Trail in McDonald, PA. is now a community center and a place of local historical information and artifacts.

The Trail Station has accepted donations of Bishop memorabilia from family, friends, and students for exhibit and archiving.


To the youth of the 21st Century, educators and friends:  Take a NEW look at the Bishop Method of sewing. A method of clothing construction that will carry you through the WHAT, WHEN, and HOW for sewing all your projects.