Friday, February 24, 2012

Vintage Dress Forms....

What is it about vintage dress forms? You see them in lots of magazine pictures. They seem to have a special romantic and nostalgic appeal for many women even for those of us that aren't really sewers. Oh I can sew up the odd simple cushion now and then but I have never sewn my own clothing, nor had the desire to. My Mother was a very good sewer and actually worked as a seamstress during her younger years so maybe that explains the attraction. I love how they look standing in the corner of a room.....adding that little bit of vintage whimsy.
Photo courtesy of

I have been on the look-out for my own vintage dress form for a number of years now. I never really thought I would actually be lucky enough to find one or if I did the price would be a little more than what I would want to pay. Vintage Dress Forms have really gone up in price over the past decade or so. Especially if you are looking to buy on-line the price can run in the hundreds....even thousands of dollars depending on the manufacturer and year it was made. Well this week my luck changed. I was doing my regular rounds to the second hand stores looking for vintage items for my store when there she was. I couldn't believe my was as if she was just standing there waiting patiently for someone (me) to take her home.

After getting her home, I carefully cut off the outer layer of the original grey fabric that was covering most of her body as all dirty and torn. Underneath I found hard pressed cardboard with bolts and screws holding her together. She adjusts from within via a series of body panels that slide along internal tracks, which are then locked into place with nuts and bolts. I’ve closed all the gaps between the body panels for a nice, smooth silhouette. All her pieces are in tack from the brass neck plate with a ring at the very top to her black cast iron stand. Her shape suggests that she is from c.1940 or 50 as the trend for fashion at that time emphasized a pointed bustline and small waist.

I did a little on-line research and found out that she is actually made by the Ellanam Adjustable Dress Form Company (also known as L & M Adjustbale Dress Form) based in Brooklyn, N.Y. They held several patents between 1908 and 1912. In the early 1900's, this breakthrough adjustable model sold under the name of 'Acme', was heavily advertised to housewives across the country via the Sears catalog. The Acme Adjustable Dress Forms were the economical little sister of professional dress forms, marketed to the home seamstress back in the day when women made all their own clothing.

I haven't decided whether to leave her in the original condition or to cover her in vintage sewing pattern paper from the same time period or "toile" tissue paper as shown in the examples below:
Photo courtey of

Courtesy of

Now if I could just find one with a metal cage skirt.........

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Hello Bonjour....

Well this is my first attempt at blogging! It's been quite a year and a half for me. I retired from the Federal Government after 34 years and in October 2006, I started a new retail store called "French Vanilla Home and Garden". In July 2007 I launched my store's e-commerce website and now this....blogging! Who would have thought! Has it been challenging?....a bit, stressful?.... some days, rewarding?....most definitely! I love owning my own retail store, filling it with things I love and helping my customers find that perfect item or gift! I am enjoying this new phase of my life and look forward to learning new things, having new adventures and making new friends along the way!

(established July/2008)