EPS this (now with edits!)

Elizabeth’s Percentage System, nothing.

Kathleen Fasanella just posted pages from The Science of Gynametry by Mrs. M.V. Coleman, published in 1887. Instructions on drafting a (sewing) pattern based on a single body measurement: your wrist! When I have time, I’m going to try this out to see how it works with my body.

ETA: I started going through this very late last night. My text notes, on review, are indicative of the lateness of the hour, but I’m going to keep ‘em as is when I post them. For now, I’ll note that after deciphering half a page of instructions, despite her introductory claim, Mrs C did not derive every single dimension from the wrist measurement; she had to account for the variation in our relative amount of flesh, so she divided bodies into “classes” and “orders” based on back waist length and waist measurement. Ha!

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8 Responses to EPS this (now with edits!)

  1. Mara says:

    I wear a 7.5 (US) shoe, and so does one of my best friends, who is four or five inches shorter than I am — and I know her forearm is shorter than mine, since I lent her a pair of knitted mitts. Another friend who is the same height as I am wears a size 9 shoe.

    The thing about not mentioning bust measurements is hooey, too. Not in polite company, perhaps, but one’s dressmaker or corsetiere certainly needed those measurements!

  2. Carol says:

    I knew it sounded too easy to be true!

  3. Tracy says:

    I think nowadays we’re all a bit more “fluffy” than the average person back in the 1800′s, when the fluff fact was pretty low.

    Along the same lines, the tried and true practice of wrapping a sock around your fist to see if it will fit???? Another similar thing…your foot length is “supposed” to be as long as your forearm. It took some doing but yes, my foot fits nicely in area between the crook of my elbow to my wrist. Now if I could bend far enough to put my foot up to my face, and not just in my mouth, the length of your face and foot is “supposed” to be equal too.

    Can’t wait to follow your deciphering of this text and see if it works on my bod!

  4. Marnie says:

    I’m the opposite of AmyP, I have rather large wrists (and what can only be described as cankles) and relatively small measurements (usually fit into an American 2-4).

  5. AmyP says:

    Interesting theory, but would fail spectacularly on me! Skinny wrists, not so skinny on the rest of me! :)

  6. kmkat says:

    Hah! My wrists and maybe my hat size are the only sizes that are the same as when I was 18 and a size 10. Forty years and many pounds later, I am here to say Mrs. Whatsis’s system is full of whooey.

  7. --Deb says:

    Ooh, that’s intriguing . . . of course, in 1887, it’s not like you could ask someone for their bust size. I mean, for heaven’s sake, you couldn’t use the word “leg” in polite company, even when discussing a piano! Wrist measurement is probably about as personal as you could get.

  8. Cathy says:

    I’m inclined to say it won’t work for everyone, based on my own body: I’ve kind of inflated over the years, but I still have the teeny little bird wrists I did when I was 40 pounds lighter. I’m curious about the results, though!