1. That a dress form is as necessary In a sewing room as a sewing machine is an established fact ; it not only is a great ai d in the construction of garments, but is a decided convenience in fitting and, draping. There was a time when a great many women who could sew very well would never attempt to sew for themselves, for the reason that they could not fit their garments correctly ; however, in this day and age, when an exact duplicate can be made of a person's figure, no such obstacle is encountered, for it is possible to make or to procure a dress form so true to a person's shape that a garment will not necessarily have to be put on by the person for whom it is intended until she is ready to wear it.
2. As is true of sewing machines, many varieties of dress forms are in the market today, each with some particularly good feature. Dress forms may be adjustable, pneumatic, or non-adjustable.
Adjustable dress forms, as the name implies, may be made to correspond to individual measures ; but to make sure that a form of this kind is correctly adjusted bef ore it is employed, and at the same time get satisf actory results, use must generally be made of a tight lining that exactly fits the individual for whom. it is intended. This lining is placed on the form; and then the form is adjusted to fill out the lining.
Pneumatic dress forms are made of rubber or a combination of rubber and cloth, and may be inflated, or filled with air, in much the same manner as an automobile tire. Such forms also require the use of a tight-fitting lining to get the best results. As a rule, the life of pneumatic forms is not very great, as the material of which they are made is su bj ect to rapid deterioration.
Non-adjustable dress forms, or solid forms, as they are sometimes called, are made of papier mâché covered with Jersey cloth. A form of this kind can be made to do the same service as an adjustable or a pneumatic form by padding it with cotton batting and then covering it with a tight-fitting lining, as illustrated in Fig. 1, which shows a front view (a), a side view (b), and a back view (c). Solid forms are much less expensive than adjustable or pneumatic forms, and practically no more work must be done to prepare them for use; theref ore, it would seem that the advantage lies with the non-adj us-table form. Indeed, the claim is made that a solid dress form properly padded is the best, because it is always ready for use and will last indefinitely, whereas, with one of the other kind, some extra work must generally be perf ormed bef ore it can be utilized.
3. The distinct advantage of a dress form is that it eliminates the irksome task of being fitted. It not only saves much time for the woman who makes her own clothes, but enables her to make garments for herself without depending on some one else for fitting. Once a dress form of the correct shape and size is at hand, the best results with the least effort can easily be obtained. Very little thought will enable any person to see how convenient it is in pinning a waist and a skirt together when making one-piece dresses, in making over or repairing dresses, in adjusting trimmings, collars, and belts, in draping garments, in securing just the right individual line, and so on. In most reputable dressmaking establishments, a dress is cut and practically assembled on the dress form bef ore it is fittted on the customer. Thus the style eff ect is created and decided on so that she will be pleased with the prospects of having a becoming dress or suit.
4. To prepare a dress form in the manner here explained requires considerable patience and time in some cases, an entire day if the work is properly donc; yet no woman will ever regret the time and effort she spends in padding a dress form for herself or for any other member of her family who has garments made, for it is quite impossible for her to overestimate the value of a dress form that is built up to assume exactly the lines she desires to duplicate.
A dress form made as here described that is, by padding a form and covering it with a lining is convenient, in addition to the uses already mentioned, for fitting waists, skirts, coats, and, in fact, nearly all articles of wearing apparel. The waist line gives the correct line for finishing up a waist ; and a skirt may be fitted over it with complete satisfaction, as the padding extends down far enough at the hips to secure a perf ect fit for a skirt. The neck line and the armholes, as well as the center-front, the center-back, and the under-arm lines, are also a convenience in fitting, because they serve as a guide in putting a garment together.
5. Selecting a Solid Form for Padding. In selecting a solid form to be padded, it should be borne in mind that the form must serve for both the waist and the skirt of a dress. Theref ore, one having a standard and base that holds the body part of the form sufficiently high from the floor to permit the skirt to be fitted is very desirable. The body part of the form should receive the most atten tion, though. As a rule, it should be from 2 to 4 in. smaller than the woman for whom it is intended. For example, if a woman's bust measure is 38 in. and her hip measure is 40 in., a form with a 34- or a 36-in. bust measure and a 36- or a 38-in. hip measure should be selected. This diff erence in size will permit the form to be covered properly with cotton batting before putting on the lining made to fit the woman's form. Having the solid form smaller than the woman's form is a decided advantage, for the reason that af ter it is padded and covered it will be soft and pliable that is, very much like the human form; whereas, if a form. is too large :in any place difficulty will be encountered in covering it, and it will not serve so well in fitting garments. No attempt should ever be made to pad a form that is as large or larger in any one place than the individual for whorn it is intended, for to get it to assume the same lines will be an impossibility.
A woman whose bust is low or flat requires a smaller form in proportion to her measure than does a woman with a prominent bust, for the reason that the form will have to be padded to increase its width and the bust made to correspond with that of the woman for whom the form is made; also, a woman whose hip measure is small in proportion to her bust measure will do well to exercise discrimination in selecting a form for padding so as not to select one with too large a hip measure, for, as a rule, solid forms are made with a hip measure that is large in proportion to the bust measure