Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Morris Brothers French à La Mode Tailor System

This last year I've been fortunate enough to find a few antique tailoring systems. Studying and cataloging them before I let them go to new homes has been one of my favorite between-work pleasures the last few busy months. For our study purposes, tailoring systems will include any drafting system that includes special rulers, charts, pantographs, expanding slopers, or skirt rules to draft a sewing pattern from a set of measurements.

Today for your pattern history lesson, I have The Morris Brothers French á La Mode Tailor System.

This is a bodice tailoring system from 1909. It is called the French A La Mode Tailoring System and was invented by the Morris Brothers. Instructions are printed on the pieces for drafting and there may have been pattern supplement booklets but I have never found any to go with it. Tailoring systems like these became very popular in the mid-to-late 19th century and several small companies sprang up to meet the demand of home seamstresses who recognized this brilliant pattern-making method as an economic answer to clothing oneself on a budget.

The system is complete when it contains a Bodice front, Bodice Back, Dart Rule, Sleeve (designed to draft a two-piece sleeve), and a Shorthand Square Skirt Guide.
Since the text printed on the bodice piece says "Perfected in 1909", one may assume that the system was originally created earlier, as these were popular and rather prevalent methods of drafting from the 1880s and later.

For more information on this sort of tailoring system, see the book Cutting a Fashionable Fit; Dressmaker's Drafting Systems in the United States by Claudia Kidwell.

Update: Due to popular requests, this set is now available as a reproduction!


  1. Looks very smart. Will the system be available in your shop? :)

    1. Hi Sanne, thanks for your question! Yes, it is available as a paper or pdf reproduction now. There is a link at the bottom of the post for it.