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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…
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