The Corset Work

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Images Copyright © 2012 by Tamar Stone. All Rights Reserved.
No images may be reproduced without the expressed written permission of the artist.

Outside Cover Corset front

Antique C/B A La Spirite Corset with lace edge, with

metal front closure hooks and 4 metal garter buckle straps.

Machine stitched cotton/poly embroidered text.

Height: 28” with garters

Width closed top: 7”

Width closed bottom: 13 1/2”

Click here: DrssVsWmnTxtBibgphy022410.pdf
to download the complete text and specs

Dress versus Woman (Plain Words for Plain People)

Vol. I: Ornamental Young Ladies (Social Discomfort)
Vol. II:
Discipline and Duty (Fancies and Failings) © 2008-10

Box covered with Asahi Bookcloth

Digital ink jet title on cotton sateen fabric

Closed Outside Edge Length: 24 1/2”

Closed Outside Edge Width: 14 3/4”

Height Outside Edge: 2 1/2”

Box interior

Interior Edge Length: 23 1/2”

Interior Edge Width: 30 1/2 ”

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This project was inspired by two things; first, a series of pamphlets from the McDowell Drafting Machine Company
from the turn of the century. The second is a photograph of a studio portrait of my Aunt Cecille’s grandmother,
Cecille Kleinman.

The McDowell System encouraged women to learn to sew, Every Woman Should know How To Make A Dress
they said:

1. Because it [sewing] is a more profitable a accomplishment than painting or music.

2. Because a woman can have two dresses for the cost of one

3. Because any member of the family can make dresses for the entire family

4. Because a practical knowledge of dressmaking will secure you a good position.

  1. 5.Because every woman should be prepared to support herself in case of reversed circumstances.

This piece explores the messages given to women at the time concerning their clothing. McDowell’s slogan was,
“To-day, unless a lady’s dress is properly shaped and well made, all the beauty that nature may have bestowed on the figure, or art given, the fabric covering it is considered lost; and the pleasure she might have given those surrounding her is thrown away.” From an etiquette book from that time, “When a young woman is given to extravagant displays in dress, it is but publishing to the world, her own consciousness of a want of other attractions of a more substantial nature.  It is but virtually saying, ‘I seek to execute attention by my dress, because I have no other good quality by which I can secure attention.’ Of course, not everyone was ready to subscribe to those dictates of fashion, “That a majority of women do not wish for any important change in their social and civil condition merely proves that they are unreflecting slaves of custom… they are totally unconscious of what they have lost by the systematic stifling of their souls.”

These texts made me take a closer look at photographs I have collected depicting groups of women posed in formal and informal settings. These groups of women show a family, working girls, school children and professional women. Each evokes questions about who they are, where they came from and what made them pose in the formations they are photographed in as well as in their choice of clothes to wear for the photographer.

The photograph of Cecille Kleinman is believed to be taken in 1897, about the time right before her marriage when
she was 17. The sleeves on her dress were not only much a part of the fashion of that time with ballooned shaped shoulders and pinched waists, but their pattern was included in the McDowell instruction sheets for
making such sleeves.

Inside Original C/B La Spirite paper tag

Outside Cover Corset interior

Interior lined with organza and ecru trim with machine embroidered text.

Width open top: 15”

Width open bottom: 25”

Interior cover corset detail with Vol I and Vol II Booklets, front covers

Fabric facsimile of antique paper McDowell Measure Book.

Vol I “Ornamental Young Ladies Social Discomfort”                              back covers

Vol II “Discipline and Duty Fancies and Failings

Digital ink jet prints on cotton canvas fabric covers with machine embroidered text.

Booklet pages are cotton sateen and silk organza with ink jet printed images.

Hand-bound, machine and hand-stitched pages.

Vol. I: 17 pages with front/back covers

Vol II: 16 pages with front/back covers

Vol I. Front cover inside back                                                             Sheer page 1 front, overlays page 2 family portrait

Page Height: 9”

Page Width: 3 3/4”

Vol I. Page 2 front detail

Vol I. Page 3 back detail

Vol I. Page 6 back                                                                                    Page 7 front

Vol I. Sheer page 12 detail, overlays page 13

Vol I. Page 17 front detail

Vol I. Page 17 back                                                                                         Back cover, inside

Vol I. Page 11 back                                                                                    Sheer page 12 front

Vol II. Front cover inside back                                                             Sheer page 1 front, overlays page 2 order form

Vol II. Page 2 back detail

Cecille Kleinman portrait

Vol II. Page 2 front

Vol II. Page 8 back                                                                                    Page 9 front order form

Vol II. Page 14 back                                                                                    Page 15 sheer, overlays page 16 order form

Vol II. Page 3 back detail

Vol II. Sheer page 4 front detail

Vol II. Page 16 back                                                                                         Back cover, inside

Vol II. Sheer page 7 back, overlays page 6 back                                     Page 8 front order form

Box label detail

Digital ink jet order form image on cotton sateen fabric.

Machine stitched cotton/poly embroidered text.

Length: 8”

Width: 4”

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