In lieu of actual sewing (which has consisted of two zipper repairs and a lot of daydreaming), I bring you yet another post on old sewing-related junk.

Antique Dressform

Another of those home-town resources.

A long time ago, my mother bought a dressform.

Of course, being my mother, she didn’t buy it because she was sewing, and she certainly didn’t go down to Fanny’s Fabrics and pick up some wobbly new thingy.

No, she brought this lady home from an antique store.

John Hall Dressform (The other leg says John Hall but the photo wasn’t as good.)

Some googling turned up a patent from 1881 for a very much similar form. Although not a whole lot else other than some exorbitantly priced ebay listings.

Neck & shoulder adjustable

I’m fascinated by all the varieties of fitting you could get in this. Total height is adjustable (though short, at least at the moment.) Torso length is adjustable. The skirt could be umbrella’d in or out depending on the fashion. The shoulders are adjustable. The neck is a high, solid (but adjustable) piece, for aid in fitting high collars, I suppose. There are built-in measuring tapes at waist and hips.

Hip tape measure.

And, yes, she sits around in my mother’s upstairs hall, usually sporting a hat or something. I’d be too terrified to actually use her, that’s for sure.

If you dress it…

The patent has a further measuring tape at the bust, which makes me wonder if she might have lost one there, although there’s no obvious sign of one.



Filed under Sewing

15 responses to “Wired

  1. How cool is that. I wonder if my Nana ever had a dressform. Two of her sewing machines are now my mom’s (one has a knee lever) but I’ve never known of a dress form in the family. Are the waist measuring tapes still accurate? I wonder if they may have stretched over time.

  2. Oooooeee! This is so cool! I use an ACME “Living Form” that adjusts every possible angle you could dream off, with the one exception being the waist:hip ratio. Tiny waist it has, and this cannot be altered without padding. I inherited it from my neighbour when she moved into a care facility. I have no idea when she purchased it, but it must be from the 40’s. I have vague memories of my grandmother having something similar in her basement, and she was sewing around that time – perhaps a bit earlier.

  3. Coolest. Dressform. Ever. Seriously! It looks like something macgyvered from some old umbrellas!

  4. Oh my, That is a thing of beauty. You have no idea how much I miss living in the flatlands, the antiques are incredible, and usually stupid cheap. Do you think she would notice if you snuck her out of the house?

  5. Very cool…but also kind of scary. I own an unpicker specifically designed for overlocking stitch and it looks like an instrument of torture. The best sewing accessories are the scariest!

  6. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    that. is. glorious.

  7. AWESOME!!!!!! it’s ingenious! and wonderful. It would look cool to be dressed with a hat shawl!

  8. I say you keep sharing these fabulous sewing-related antiques! That is such a unique dressform, and it totally makes sense when you think about having to fit dresses over petticoats and such. It does look kind of like a bizarre torture instrument, though…

  9. Wow that’s incredible – and useful. My yoga teacher told me I had a long torso – I need a dressform like her!! Love the old hat boxes she has too.

  10. I think you should steal it. Well, borrow. I meant borrow cos how would you hide it? It must be used too, at least once right?

  11. Erinn

    I want that form. I would put it in whatever room I happened to be in and it would scare the kids so much they wouldn’t come near me.

  12. The old sewing stuff you guys dig up is amazing and lust inducing. She’s wonderful.

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