Isabella has a companion!

Remember Isabella my dressform?

I’ve just bought her a companion.  Meet Lady Murasaki:

Lady Murasaki

Murasaki is a vintage Japanese dressform.  She’s a size 8 (so one size down from Isabella).  She’s also slightly longer – so suitable for draping garments that are fitted over the hips.  Doesn’t she have beautiful lines?

She is foam (great for pinning and draping on) with a synthetic taffeta cover which has a bit of foxing from age.  Right now I like the evidence of what she has been through; if it gets too bad I’ll re-cover her.

Wearing her age

I found her at the Asia Gallery.  I’d actually noticed her months ago, but I didn’t have the money for her at the time, and the price was a bit more than I wanted to pay.  I also wondered if I really would get much use out of such a small dressform.  However, my last three clients have been size 8 or smaller, and I find it easier to draft on a small form and size up than to draft patterns and size them down.  The real clincher was the price though: I went by the Asia Gallery on Friday and she was marked down.  Dressform for $80 = major happy dance!

Isabella and Murasaki

I knew almost immediately what I wanted to name her.  Isabella is named after the Italian Renaissance arts patron Isabella d’Este, and most of my other sewing equipment also have names related to Renaissance art, but that didn’t suit Murasaki.  Instead I named her after the 11th century Japanese poet and writer Murasaki Shikubu, author of The Tale of Genjii.

The slightly different shapes are fascinating.

My interest in Murasaki goes back even further than my interest in Renaissance art patrons.  I read a book about her as a early teen, and continued to read up on her and The Tale of Genji.  I drove my Japanese language teacher in high school batty by knowing (and using) all sorts of obscure Japanese nouns (starting with her name, murasaki, which means ‘wisteria’ and also the purple colour of wisteia) but being hopeless at grammar.

I don’t immediately have an excuse to use her, but I’m very excited about doing so: she has the perfect seams for draping – so much better than Isabella’s.


  1. Lynne says

    She’s a find! I do like the side-on photo of Murasaki beside Isabella. Murasaki has slightly more rounded shoulders – looks a bit more submissive. Or from carrying all those kimono layers, maybe?

    • Hmmmm…I hadn’t really noticed that. I do have pretty rounded shoulders myself, but it sure doesn’t make me submissive 😉

  2. Sineuve says

    My dressform is calles Cecilia. Mainly because she is headless.

  3. Caroline says

    What a lovely shaped form! She’s elegant too! My form’s name is Harriet, but I like the specific references of Isabella and Murasaki!

  4. Oh I love the beautiful lines. Also it’s nice to know naming dress forms is a common occurrence in the sewing world 😛


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