What happened to a Bed-Stuy dress form factory?

The Ellanam Adjustable Form Company made a name for itself with its “adjustable” dress form—a three-dimensional headless, limbless female mannequin used for sewing.

The breakthrough adjustable model, heavily advertised to housewives in the early 20th century, could be easily altered to accommodate clothes of any shape or size.

They must have been pretty novel; several of these dress forms command a decent amount of cash on online auction sites.

 But what happened to Ellanam? They seem to have vanished, and their former home at 378 Throop Avenue near Tompkins Park looks residential. Another reminder of Brooklyn’s days as a manufacturing hub.

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17 Responses to “What happened to a Bed-Stuy dress form factory?”

  1. Doug D Says:

  2. Doug D Says:

    oops. i found one in Alabama once http://www.flickr.com/photos/daytonohio/3771216256/

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Cool. Looks a little creepy there on the side of the road!

  4. PizzaBagel Says:

    Take another look at the photo. Could that be 375 Throop Avenue instead? Just a possibility.

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    I checked with the owner of the dress form. Definitely 378.

  6. Jennifer Says:

    I have several of these forms which I use in my vintage fashion business. They are still much in demand because through a series of slides fixed by tightening wing nuts, they can be adjusted in practically every possible way to achieve precise tailoring. They are a bit of a pain to adjust, however. Unfortunately, I’ve worn out a couple of these Acmes because after 50-65 years or so, the slides pull out of the compressed cardboard body of the form. That’s after decades of hard use. Dress forms on the market now cost several hundred dollars and are made out of flimsy plastic with flimsy plastic adjustment dials. They won’t last five years.

    So nice to learn something about the origins of my dress forms – they are important tools for me.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    I have seen one of these forms in person, and they sure do look durable. Thanks for writing in!

  8. Joanne Says:

    I have one in collection at Copper Breaks State Park here in Texas — this is a remote site on the Texas-Oklahoma border. They must have been sold nationally through mail-order. It has a patent placard of dates 12/1/1908 to 7/7/1914, but unfortunately its paper tag is torn so I don’t know what model it is. Otherwise, it is in very good shape with the original cast iron base. I have photos if interested.

  9. PAT Says:

    I have one in great shape…what is the going price

  10. Gosia Says:

    I have just brought one from the thrift store this afternoon. I am thrilled to have it. I was hoping for one, but never had dreamed I would actually score a vintage piece.

  11. CHRISTINE Says:

    I am looking to buy a used dress form of good quality and in good condition. I live in the NYC area. Any tips?

    • John Lavelle Says:

      I have one in perfect shape. I live in Staten island and would accept any reasonable offer.

      • ephemeralnewyork Says:

        Hi John, I know someone who may be interested in it. Can you send info and photos, including one of the base, to ephemeralnewyork @ gmail? Thanks!

  12. Mélissa Says:

    I got one of these for free (I was beyond eststic and greatful). She was in rough shape and now Judy has an amazing facelift and now she looks better than new

    • Laura Says:

      I was just given my grandmother’s Size JR Antique dress form (named Clara) and want to give her a “facelift” too! How did you clean yours? (Did you name her Judy???) I want to bring her back to her original beauty but am sooo nervous about ruining Clara. Any cleaning advice would be greatly appreciated!
      Also, trying to get an estimate on her age. My mother said she remembers, when she was a little girl, when her mom purchased her so she must be at least 1950. (My Mom was born in ‘47.) Do you have any idea how I can find out Clara’s age?
      Thanks for any help you can send my way!

  13. Karen Says:

    I’m trying to get a rough date of my L&M ACME “living form” dress form. It has a patent pending sticker so I can assume it’s pre-patent. It was my grandmother’s who was born in 1915, but she could’ve gotten it from her mother. Any ideas of age?

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