How Dress Forms Are Made

Dress forms are incredibly important in fashion design. They are the forms a designer, tailor, or seamstress use to drape new patterns or fit garments properly on a body. They are a stand in to a real live model, one you can stick pins in and that never fidget.

As a fashion historian, I use dress forms often to exhibit garments or explain to students how historical clothing fits on the body.

So I was excited to find this video from the Science Channel on the making of dress forms. Each are still hand made of cardboard, paste, and muslin. I had no idea how they created the forms’ collapsible shoulders. Take a look!

Friday File

I’ve always wanted to take a floral class, and this Wednesday I finally did! Pistil and Vine, a super cute boutique florist in Bucktown hosted a topiary-building class. We made boxwood topiaries, and I love my creation. All of us taking the class ended up with completely different results thanks to a variety of decorating options and pruning preferences, but they all looked great. The credit goes to Megan at Pistil and Vine for such great instruction.

And now my fave links from the week:

Here’s another story of a rare piece owned by a person who didn’t know what it was worth fetching high sums of money. In this case, a 200 hundred-year-old Imperial Chinese robe fetched £15,000 at auction. The owner was going to donate it to a charity shop! When am I going to find my own treasure at a flea market or in the back of my closet so I can sell it at auction for $$$$?

This fascinating history about mannequins explains how they reflect societal conventions through various historical vignettes. My favorite story in this post tells about a 1899 wax figure named “Miss Modesty” whose arms and hands covered her face in shame because she modeled undergarments.

Do you know how to properly care for your shoes in the winter? Here’s a great guide to getting them through the cold temperatures, snow, and salt-covered sidewalks.

A new study finds that kids that are exposed to the arts “display greater tolerance, historical empathy, as well as better educational memory and critical thinking skills.” Huh, you don’t say?

Have a happy weekend!

photo by Travis Haughton

Friday File – Weird Week

This week turned out to be very weird to me, and everyone at work agrees. Tuesday, we had both a false emergency alarm go off across the entire campus and a snow storm that shut down the school. We are approaching mid semester, which is always a busy time, so the unexpected disruptions did nothing for productiveness.

But I’m hoping to shake it off with my best friends this weekend. They are coming to Chicago for a ladies’ weekend, and I can’t wait!

Here are the most interesting things I found online during this peculiar week:

These photos don’t picture cutting-edge historical fashion, but they show life inside a castings factory in Derby, England during the 1920s and 1930s. I think it’s just as valuable to learn about what the working class wore as the elite.

Ever wonder how museums mount garments so beautifully during exhibitions? The best shows require custom mannequins for each dress. Often this is achieved by building out the form on an existing mannequin. Here’s a peek of my friend Emma Denny at work behind the scenes at the Chicago History Museum.

Christina Brinkley of the Wall Street Journal cuts through the fat to break down the Fall 2013 fashion shows.

Is Vogue kidding with this article? “How to Not-Wear a Jacket” is practically Diana Vreeland-esque. But apparently Fashionista agrees that this is the cool way to dress for winter. Personally, I think this is just a way for fashion insiders to one up the masses who are edging into their territory. The wannabes don’t have the financial resources, but you can bet these women pictured are taking cabs so they don’t need coats anyway.

New Balance is exploring the use of 3-D printing to customize shoes for pro athletes. Sensors track each foot’s motion and how much pressure is created at different points in order to print a plate for the shoe’s sole. This is expected to enhance performance. Eventually New Balance anticipates this will end up at the consumer level.

Athletic shoes seem perfectly matched to 3-D printing, but can you imagine other possibilities in footwear? I’m thinking of a high-heel sole created specifically for your foot! 3-D printing could reduce painful pressure points and make heels safer and more comfortable to wear — customized to each person’s feet!