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Thursday, February 21, 2013

A REAL Vintage Judy

I love seeing all the vintage dress forms on blogs and at antiques shops.  Not only are they extremely in vogue now, but they have a real sentimental connection for me.  

I especially love Wolf dress forms.  My mother bought this one used in 1979, and it was old back then.  She didn't buy it for a home decor accessory, but to use for her pattern and sample making.

When she came to Canada back in 1968, she started working as a pattern maker at Hudson Sportswear, a Toronto based womens clothing manufacturer.  However my mothers love for clothing began when she was about 10 years old. She got a job as an apprentice at a local dressmaking shop back home, just so she could learn dressmaking.  She had a burning love for it.  When she was 12 years old she started making her own and her siblings clothes.  Not only would she sew, she would knit as well.  

She left Hudson Sportswear when her boss was murdered on a friday afternoon.  He used to pay his staff in cash (it was the '60s), and he was robbed and killed for the money.  

In the early 1970's she went to work for Style Rite, which manufactured 'housecoats'.  Can you believe women wore 'Housecoats'? The photo above is just from the internet, but this is what I mean! You'd wear it when company came! Oh the 70s,scarred me for life!

In 1976 my brother was born, and my mom took maternity leave.  During this time, she came to the conclusion that she needed more.  She had to do something more creative, so she bought her judy, and she bought sample yardage, and she made a small collection of clothes.  She took her samples to a select group of Toronto boutiques and collected small orders.  That was it!  She was hooked.  My teenage summers were spent carrying 10 yard rolls of 'sample yardage' from fabric distributors on Spadina Avenue to her sublet factory on King street.   I used to watch her pinning samples onto this judy.  Then changing and tweaking her patterns. Eventually she got tired of it, and moved into retail.  She opened up one...then four more stores.  But, poor judy didn't get to retire.

She started her private label of suits, and even though she had a freelance pattern maker, my mom still tweaked...

This judy was probably a bikini judy originally.  Either swimwear or lingerie.  Big bosoms (had to change my original word...getting strange referring URLs) and legs. She caused my mom loads of grief! The boob area was always big in her suits.  

Last year I bought a new (used) judy for her with smaller bosom and no legs, on the condition that she give me My Judy!  It was a win win situation!  Two very happy women! 

Although her new judy doesn't get used much, its my moms security blanket!  Her old judy is very happy in her new home.  She's proudly on display, truly loved, for all she represents. My kids (and Mom)think I'm crazy, but I see the judy, and I see my mothers hands. This is why I love Vintage.


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  1. Your Wolf dress form is fabulous, and the family history behind it even better. Designing and making custom clothing was definitely a calling for your mother! I'm glad you've got your judy in a place of honor.

  2. I love this story behind the dress form. I passed a vintage Wolf up last summer and regret it ever since. My grandmother was a seamstress and gave hers away back in the 60's. I am glad Judy has a home where she is loved.

  3. what an amazing youth you had working with your talented mom! Loved reading your story, and your "judy"! Never heard that term before. She's a real beauty, thanks so much for linking up to the party!

  4. What a wonderful story.
    My grandmother was a pattern and clothing designer in the late 1930's and 40's for Dante and Tanenbaum. Her fashions were sold in Dante's Dept Store, Wolf Brothers, etc.
    She designed and made gorgeous one of a kind dresses for my mother and her two sisters.
    My mother and aunt are both amazing seamstresses and I learned to sew when I was 5 or 6 (at my mother's side). I've loved sewing, fashion and beautiful fabrics all my life. My grandmother has passed on but lives within my mother and myself. When I look at my own hands.... I see my mother's.
    Your story was very touching.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. This is so vintage-ly awesome! Is that a word? LOL. Thanks for sharing your story. I love it ;)
    Jamie ~ Better With Age

  6. I love your Judy! We used similar ones in Costume School, but none of ours ever had legs! There's nothing like a good Judy for draping... I miss using one :-)

  7. What a joy to have the tale behind the sweet vintage piece. I loved hearing all about your mother's life and the impact it had on you and the memories you have from that time.
    Liz @ Quirky Vistas


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