A Dress Form, of the 1 7th Century

Okay, this post isn’t very exciting, but I’m excited about, because my brilliant plan is working.

My client is all the way across the country, so we will not be able to do in-person draping, fitting, tailoring, etc.  Instead, I have created Mary the Dressform, by wrapping my adjustable and trusty dressform (formerly known as Millie) in cotton batting, and using my conical corset (Elizabethan corset, but creates the same shape as a 17th c. corset) to squeeze the batting down into the correct shape for the period.  The dressform as-is is far too modern in shape.  I laced and loosened and tightened and adjusted the front and back lacings of the stays to fit Mary’s exact measurements – 35.5″ for bust, and 28.25″ for waist.  The shoulder width and length from nape of neck to waist are also matched, the latter being indicated by the blue ribbon tied around the waist.

The cool thing is that this method of batting and corseting will work for just about everything.  My client and myself are similar sizes, so it wasn’t much of a shift, but if I were working with a client with larger measurements than myself, I could expand my dressform out, wrap in batting, and corset it in to fit the exact measurements.  Yay!  don’t I feel crafty 😀


  • Zho Zho

    July 16, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    You said that your post was not very interesting, but I found it to be very informative, I have never really thought about how much corsets changed the body shape, so that you actually had to fit the dress over a corset, of course fittings would have been done on corseted women. Thank you for prompting that realisation.

  • Stacy

    July 16, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    I just did something similar for my own dress form… I made a duct tape double about 10 years ago, and needless to say it isn't the same size as me any more! So, I took an old comforter and made a thick slip cover that I sewed over the double. Not only did it make it the same size I am now, I can actually stick pins in her now without getting them all gummy!

  • American Duchess

    July 16, 2010 at 7:26 PM

    And here I thought I was the last person in the world to try this method, and you would all find it very dull! I'm so happy to have been of some help to you, my dear readers!

    Tamra – I love this corset; it's hemp-corded, and so comfortable. Sometimes I just want to wear it with the shirt and petticoat and forget about all the clothes that go over the top of it!

    Zho Zho – the seedling of the idea for this came from reading in The Tudor Tailor how to get the correct shape for the Elizabethan period, and I realised then too how differently we women have shaped our bodies over the centuries. I have an 18th c. jacket project coming up for the same client, and I'm going to use this same method of batting and corseting, but using a mid/late 18th c. pair of stays. It'll be interesting to see how different her two body shapes are!

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