Tuesday, August 28, 2012
On Shopping for a Mannequin~A guest post
Quickly, I revised my search terms--dress form. And up came all sorts of vintage forms, as well as professional forms that basically look like a scaffold with bodies hanging from them. While I searched and searched, refining what I actually want and need I recalled a memory my mother had shared with me. And she agreed to write the following--
The summer of 1953 was one of the most memorable in my life. I was preparing to be married in June to the love of my life who was in the army stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. That allowed him to be home most weekends. His father was away attending summer classes at Kansas State in Manhattan, KS. This left lonely evenings for myself and future mother-in-law to spend together.
She was an incredible seamstress and I toyed with creating clothes for myself. She was always available to help me with fitting and making alterations where necessary. She suggested we order a kit to create a dress form of me. And it proved to be the experience of a lifetime.
She ordered it from J.C. Penney's catalog as I remember. It consisted of a sleeveless knit body suit, rolls of brown Kraft paper with dried mucilage on it and a detailed instruction sheet. We spent several minutes reading what seemed to be a simple enough procedure.
I put on my bra (with underwires) and my rubber Playtex girdle. Then I put on the knit body suit (no crotch). That in itself provided our first fit of laughter. We took the waist measurement, which was needed for a wooden disc cut to attach the form once it was ready to use. The next step was to start attaching the Kraft paper that we tore into two inch strips and ran through warm water. They were applied to my body suit. Of course, Twila, my mother-in-law had to do this so I could maintain the proper posture. This took most of one morning and then it had to dry on me so it could be cut up the middle of the back.
Getting it off my body created several fits of laughter. At this stage it had to dry to a good solid foundation as we needed to apply the rest of the paper tape to it. We decided to cut to the wooden disc to my shape and size, mount it to a broomstick mounted on a solid base to support my "form" before we did any more. More than a week later we were ready to finish our project. By the time we applied the rest of the paper, it was somewhat larger but we thought it was useful for measuring for hems at least. After the paper was all applied and dried to perfection, we applied a coat of shellac. Success!
The wedding had to be postponed twice because of cancelled leave; I lost weight and my suit from Rothchilds of Emporia, Ks, had to be alter twice before the wedding date. Twila didn't want to do that alteration so I went back to Rothchilds to have it done professionally.
The first two years of marriage brought us our two daughters and my weight and measurement were never again the size of the dress form. It became one of those items you don't want to part with because of the memories. I have to be honest and say I don't know whatever became of it.
What my mother doesn't tell us is how the mother in law provided a coffee can for a potty break during the making of this dress form--more cause for laughter! Have any of my readers ever attempted to make their own dress form? Do you have items like this that embody such good memories? And do you have any idea where I can purchase an inexpensive, size 8 form, on wheels? And do you think my mother ought to start a blog?