Appendix:  Measuring Customers


A video exists of Iris in the late 1990's. It can be access from that treasure trove of corsetry, ‘The Long Island Staylace Association’. The clip is described below by Frangard:-

In the video, Iris is finishing off a pair of corsets by machining the binding edges on completed corsets. Iris is in the kitchen cum sewing room I came to know so well between 1981 and 1999. The video of Iris is in three parts which run into one another and I comment on each part as follows:

PART 1, (three minutes) features Iris measuring a customer who wants a 20-inch waist corset. The scene is shot with the camera person actually standing inside the dining room which Iris used as her fitting room to lace in clients, and the scene is partially framed by the doorway of the sliding door leading into it from the kitchen. From the conversation, Iris measures her client at 24 inches and the second woman says, “She (meaning the client in the black dress) can easily wear 20". She then talks to the man doing the filming and says "that's 50 isn't it?", meaning 50 cms implying that the client is probably European because she says very little.

PART 2, (six minutes) is possibly shot some weeks later. It is filmed from the opposite side of the kitchen cum sewing room to that of Part 1, and features Iris seated at her machine sewing the elastic binding on the corset edge. The corset appears to have been cut to a small waist, probably 20 inches, and by the way Iris is manipulating the work piece it has a significant hip spring. Amazingly, Iris is doing the machining with the lacings all in place. Hence I would guess this is after the final fitting which has just been done with the client. Later in the video you will note a person standing side on to the camera, with a hand on her left hip. She then walks away from the camera towards the dining room sliding door and one sees the brass reinforcing rings of the lacing eyelets of a dark blue satin-faced corset she is wearing over a long skirt. This appears to be identical to the one Iris is machining. Incidentally, in that shot the client is walking into the main part of the house from the sewing room. The white door is the sliding door into the dining room where Iris fitted clients with their corsets. By the way, I note that Iris has rearranged her kitchen from how it was for all the 18 years I visited her there, and she has put the sewing machine beyond the fridge on the inner wall rather than under the light provided by the window near the kitchen door. I wonder if this was done to get the light right for the video?

Probably the last pictures of Iris Norris. Energetic to the last, she was already very ill and would pass away in the year 2000

PART 3. The last 20 seconds are of Iris talking to the client and her friend who are examining the pair of corsets Iris has just finished. The corset the client is wearing is clearly visible and I would guess she had two made at the same time, and had been laced into the first of them prior to the filming.

Iris always liked to do the last fitting before binding so that she could, if necessary, adjust the sewing up between panels if the fit was found wanting at any place around the corset. If you read the terms of Fanny Copere they would mail you the partly finished corset to try on and return for completion. If you were a personal customer, Iris would do that on the spot, and alter if required, check again and once all was OK only then would she bind up the hems. As you see, it all took her about 10 minutes! As you will see Iris is still as quick and dextrous as ever but it is sad to see she is already much wasted no doubt from what had to be the slow progress of the illness to which she succumbed in about a year. You will hear her quick voice, cheerfulness and chuckle in the way I knew her to be, as well as the deep sides of her hearing-aid spectacles. It brings back memories of a really fine and understanding woman.