1907 Dancing Dressmakers

The video of dancing dressmakers includes outfits similar to the one on the seated woman. Delineator, July 1907

I’ve watched this little (once silent) film several times, because it just makes me feel good! If you can watch it on a big screen, even better.  Only 2 minutes long, the plot is simple: Infectious music from a nearby apartment seeps into the dressmaker’s workroom and suddenly all the seamstresses are dancing!  Click here to watch.

Don’t miss the dressmaker’s mannequin at the far left, or the surprisingly lively moves of the women — their outfits and hairstyles are also a treat.

A suit with a bolero-length jacket; Butterick pattern, October 1907. The dancer with the great shoulder action wears a similar style.

Working women often wore shirtwaist blouses like these. December 1907, Delineator.

Frosting on the cake: This film was directed by Alice Guy Blache, one of the mothers of the motion picture industry. In the early days of silent film, job descriptions like “screenwriter,” “cinematographer,” and “movie director” didn’t yet exist, so it didn’t occur to women that those jobs were “man’s work.” The contributions of women in these fields used to be overlooked by [mostly male] film historians, but not any more. Read more about Alice Guy Blache at Movies Silently or at the Women Film Pioneers Project site. There is also a documentary about her: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache.

Thanks to Glamourdaze for bringing this film clip to my attention! (go on, watch it again!)

Butterick fashions from September 1907. Delineator.


Filed under 1900s to 1920s, Edwardian fashions

10 responses to “1907 Dancing Dressmakers

  1. It’s always interesting to read your posts. Looking at these images and comparing to current fashion, I think of how heavy the century + old clothing must have been with all that additional fabric from the pleating, gathering , huge sleeves and long skirt and all the underclothes to get the shape compared to contemporary clothing that for the most part is so uncomplicated and with much less fabric.

    • The petticoats alone were multi-layered, so I’m always encouraged to see that women actually could move in these outfits. And have fun!

      • D.M.A.C.

        It is not surprising that many of us who live today, assume the clothes of the past are heavy and restrictive. (With the corset being the most obvious example)

        Since most of us only see these clothes in paintings, fashion plates, and museums. As well as the already preconceived notions that we have about historical clothing.

        When in reality these clothes are not as restrictive as people think.

        The Historical Costuming and Historical Reenacting Community have proven through their own experience of wearing these clothes and undergarments every day ( or at least most of the year) that these clothes are easy to move in and are surprisingly comfortable.

        You can look at these Youtube videos if you want to see them for yourself.

        The Link below shows a video from a person that explains what it was like to have worn 18th-century clothing almost every day for 5 years:

        The Link BELOW is for a set of videos called #corsetryinmotion, where people show that wearing corsets are indeed comfortable, you can breathe just fine while wearing them, and they prove you can move perfectly fine in corsets or stays.
        (By doing things like Singing opera, Doing gymnastics, and Doing Circuit Training Workout)


        The Link BELOW is from PriorAttire and is a set of her video that busts the myths surrounding Corsets and Historical Clothing:

      • I have worn historical clothing occasionally and was surprised how much the corset helps to distribute the weight of the skirts and petticoats in 18th c. dress. And I have made 18th c. corsets for opera singers who said they “like having something to push against.” But it does take time to get used to that feeling, so rehearsal corsets are necessary…. Joan Sutherland famously had special interior structures built into her costumes by Barbara Matera, to help with the singer’s back problems.

      • D.M.A.C.

        I mean what you have said, just shows why many actresses keep saying they felt uncomfortable when wearing their corsets.

        They would almost always wear corsets or stays that do not fit them, As well as wearing it the wrong way, and without shifts or chemises ( which is THEIR FOR A REASON PEOPLE !!).

        Then to top it all of they, they were not given any time to adjust.

        Instead, they were tightlaced the first time they wear it and then made to wear that tight-laced corset or stays for hours during filming.

  2. Alice Guy Blache is amazing, and I love that clip. Though it cries out for an interactive accompaniment, where you really get the effect of the music suddenly starting, like all those “the drop happens and things change” TikToks.

  3. Fascinating story – thank you so much!
    Hope all’s well with you & your family. 💕

  4. Jewel

    Makes me giggle, they bounce around and have fun. Wonder if they were actual seamstresses, or actors.

  5. Pingback: Guardarrr #17: Change is complex and takes time

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