Prof. Vroom’s American Scientific Tailor System of Dress Cutting

Otis Albert Vroom was originally profiled 18 October, 2011.

In 1890, Otis published “Prof. Vroom’s American scientific tailor system of dress cutting” a 28 page book of dress-making instruction. At the time of the original posting, I had not been able to find that booklet on line, but my brother, who is good with libraries, found a copy at the University of Connecticut and got a PDF copy.   

The book gives detailed instructions on how to measure at several points each, to create the perfect fitting waist, sleeve, skirt, and collar for the largest lady to the smallest child, “follows any fashion, and makes a perfect fit for any form without alteration.”

The student is instructed to learn each step thoroughly, as “there is as much science in dress cutting as there is in locomotive building, only it is a smaller job.”

It appears that the “system” included the instruction booklet and two templates – a square with different angles, and a curvature with different sized curves, apparently to help draw the shapes of what  would become the dress pattern. The book does not include photos.  His system uses the ∆ to mark dots and ▲to mark points, similar to modern paper patterns. 

The famous Butterick company started making graded sizes of sewing patterns in 1863, starting with boys’ and men’s clothing, then added women’s dress patterns in 1866.  Those patterns followed fashions of the times.  The Vroom booklet seems to be more generic in creating patterns, and instructs the users to consult fashion books for styles. 

The Vroom System sold for $10, and included the square, curvature, and book.  He also offered accessories of a case, tracing wheel, tape measure, and drafting paper. 

Contact me if you’d like more information from the booklet.


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