History Of Dressmaking

History of dressmaking
The Oxford English Dictionary first recorded ‘dressmaker’ in 1803. Throughout the nineteenth century and until the rise of ready-to-wear, most women who did not make their own clothes at home employed a dressmaker, who copied or adapted the latest clothing ideas from Paris, London or other fashion centres, based on printed illustrations called fashion plates.
A dressmaker is often professionally trained. Many learn in an apprentice role, under the tutelage of an established dressmaker, while some learn in formal school settings. Still others learn through years of trial and error. Dressmaking methods involve measurements, a trial garment, called a “muslin” or “toile”, and several fittings.
Custom dressmakers also create clothing for clients with unique needs, such as performers, artists, disabled or wheelchair-users, wearers of prosthetic devices, vintage or fashion-forward aficionados, and historical re-enactors. They can also recreate, redesign, and reinvent existing garments (such as updating a great-grandmother’s gown for modern day use). Some have very specific specialties, such as embroidery, reweaving, and restoring garments. Some are designers who can create a garment entirely “from scratch”, and some require a pattern or an existing garment to use as a guide.

Related terms
Dressmaker as an adjective denotes clothing made in the style of a dressmaker, frequently in the term dressmaker details which includes ruffles, frills, ribbon or braid trim. Dressmaker in this sense is contrasted to tailored and has fallen out of use since the rise of casual wear in the mid-twentieth century.
Mantua-maker, in the eighteenth century a maker of mantuas, or in general a dressmaker.
Modiste, a maker of fashionable clothing and accessories, with the implication that the articles made reflect the current Paris fashions.
Sewing professional is the most general term for those who make their living by sewing, teaching, writing about sewing, or retailing sewing supplies. She or he may work out of her home, a studio, or retail shop, and may work part-time or full-time. She or he may be any or all or the following sub-specialities:
A custom clothier makes custom garments one at a time, to order, to meet an individual customer’s needs and preferences.
A custom dressmaker specializes in women’s custom apparel, including day dresses, careerwear, suits, evening or bridal wear, sportswear, or lingerie.
A tailor makes custom menswear-style jackets and the skirts or trousers that go with them, for men or women.
An alterations specialist or alterationist adjusts the fit of completed garments, usually ready-to-wear, or restyles them. Note that while all tailors can do alterations, by no means can all alterationists do tailoring.
Designers choose combinations of line, proportion, color, and texture for intended garments. They may have no sewing or patternmaking skills, and may only sketch or conceptualize garments.
Patternmakers flat draft the shapes and sizes of the numerous pieces of a garment by hand using paper and measuring tools or by computer using AutoCAD based software, or by draping muslin on a dressform.
A wardrobe coěnsultant or fashion advisor recommends styles and colors for a client.
A seamstress is someone who sews seams, or in other words, a machine operator in a factory who may not have the skills to make garments from scratch or to fit them on a real body. This term is not a synonym for dressmaker. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, a seamstress did handsewing, especially under the putting-out system. Older variants are seamster and sempstress.
Sewist is a relatively new term, combining the words “sew” and “artist”, to describe someone who creates sewn works of art, which can include clothing or other items made with sewn elements.

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Six hundred and fifty thousand years ago, when man first started wearing pelts and plant material for warmth, comfort, and appearance, they had no idea how far the concept of clothing as identity would go in the intervening millennia. They just wanted to keep the sun off of their backs and to stave off the frigid winters.

The very earliest clothing was simply draped, tied, or wrapped around peoples’ waist or shoulders as they went on about their days. It went on like this for the majority of human history – for nearly six hundred and thirty thousand years, until sewing was invented.

Just under twenty thousand years back, we find the first signs of actual sewing haven taken place. Bone and ivory needles have been discovered from this period, though they were likely still put to use on animal pelts. Woven materials such as linen and silk took another thirteen thousand years to show up, meaning that dressmaking in anything that resembles it’s current form is in its infancy – having been around for only six thousand years or so – less than a tenth of the time that our species has walked the earth!

The Silk Trade

It is well known that there was a system of trade roads between various Asian counties and the Chinese empire. Though everything from livestock to spices to art traveled these roadways, the routes are known as the silk road, as China’s silk was at the time (and generally remains) unrivaled in quality as a trade-good. The goods carried along these roads from China, along with the knowledge that accompanied it – significantly impacted the development of other civilizations, including Egypt and Rome.
Greek and Roman Clothes

Greeks and Romans both tended toward loose, draping, and minimally sewn garments that could be belted or tied in place. The Roman toga, of course, is what springs to mind, though Greek and Roman clothing could be quite beautiful, and was not always so simple as the bedsheets seen around the kegs in college.

DRESSMAKING COSTUME HISTORY

Costume

 The study of the development of costume throughout the early ages presents many difficulties. Until a fairly recent period fashion books were unknown, and the only records were those found in the writings of the times, in wall carvings and paintings, in sculptures on monuments and tombs, on seals and various gems, and a little later in engravings of various fetes, royal processions, marriages, etc.

All these were not made with the student of costume history in mind, but generally to commemorate some event or to perpetuate the memory of various reigning monarchs, and in consequence they were not always accurate representations of the period they illustrate. Allowance must be made for the vagaries of the artists, the materials in which they worked, and also for the fact that in many cases these monuments were not made until some centuries later than the events they commemorated, when little accurate information existed regarding the costume of the earlier periods. To obviate this difficulty, the costume of the period at which the work was actually executed generally appears.

By the comparison of various records, however, a fairly satisfactory and continuous outline of costume history has been worked out-an outline which in general is sufficiently suggestive to meet the demands of the modern dress designer.

Every fashion and every detail of fashion of the present day may be traced to that of some former period. It is only through contact with the representations of these fashions that the creative ability so necessary in designing is awakened; it is only through a knowledge of them that what is called “originality” is possible. In this connection originality means the power to adopt and adapt suitably the fashions of the past to the demands of the present.

It is because the French have this knowledge, because in their libraries, churches, and museums there are these records free to all, because for centuries they have appreciated their value and have through constant practice acquired skill in their use, that all the fashion world looks to them for inspiration and guidance in design in costume.

To be of the greatest use an outline history of costume should include a survey of the costumes of the ancient Egyptians, the Grecians, and the Romans, as showing the general type of garment used in early civilizations. These differ very greatly from the garments worn by the Gauls at the time of their conquest by the Romans, or from those of the Franks who later appeared and gradually took possession of Gaul, renamed it France, and established there the French nation. French costume, as such, may be considered as beginning at this time, about the sixth century.

From this period no attempt is made here to describe even briefly the costume of any other nation than the French. They began at an early period not only to create their own fashions but to make whatever fashions they borrowed distinctively theirs by their manner of adoption. Because of limited space the costumes of men are omitted from this outline; in Egypt, Greece, and Rome they did not differ in their main characteristics from those of the women, and in French costume the same names and many of the same characteristics persisted until the Renaissance, from which time there is definite distinction between the garments of the men and women.

The study of the development of costume throughout the early ages presents many difficulties. Until a fairly recent period fashion books were unknown, and the only records were those found in the writings of the times, in wall carvings and paintings, in sculptures on monuments and tombs, on seals and various gems, and a little later in engravings of various fetes, royal processions, marriages, etc.

All these were not made with the student of costume history in mind, but generally to commemorate some event or to perpetuate the memory of various reigning monarchs, and in consequence they were not always accurate representations of the period they illustrate. Allowance must be made for the vagaries of the artists, the materials in which they worked, and also for the fact that in many cases these monuments were not made until some centuries later than the events they commemorated, when little accurate information existed regarding the costume of the earlier periods. To obviate this difficulty, the costume of the period at which the work was actually executed generally appears.

By the comparison of various records, however, a fairly satisfactory and continuous outline of costume history has been worked out-an outline which in general is sufficiently suggestive to meet the demands of the modern dress designer.

Every fashion and every detail of fashion of the present day may be traced to that of some former period. It is only through contact with the representations of these fashions that the creative ability so necessary in designing is awakened; it is only through a knowledge of them that what is called “originality” is possible. In this connection originality means the power to adopt and adapt suitably the fashions of the past to the demands of the present.

It is because the French have this knowledge, because in their libraries, churches, and museums there are these records free to all, because for centuries they have appreciated their value and have through constant practice acquired skill in their use, that all the fashion world looks to them for inspiration and guidance in design in costume.

To be of the greatest use an outline history of costume should include a survey of the costumes of the ancient Egyptians, the Grecians, and the Romans, as showing the general type of garment used in early civilizations. These differ very greatly from the garments worn by the Gauls at the time of their conquest by the Romans, or from those of the Franks who later appeared and gradually took possession of Gaul, renamed it France, and established there the French nation. French costume, as such, may be considered as beginning at this time, about the sixth century.

From this period no attempt is made here to describe even briefly the costume of any other nation than the French. They began at an early period not only to create their own fashions but to make whatever fashions they borrowed distinctively theirs by their manner of adoption. Because of limited space the costumes of men are omitted from this outline; in Egypt, Greece, and Rome they did not differ in their main characteristics from those of the women, and in French costume the same names and many of the same characteristics persisted until the Renaissance, from which time there is definite distinction between the garments of the men and women.

 

    

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