This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Generally speaking, dress fabrics should be displayed in the window by draping in the form of a dress skirt. A great variety of designs may be utilized, as shown in the following illustrations. Dummies or drums should be used as much as possible, as in that way less goods are necessary to be taken from stock for trimming up. These devices are of various forms and materials, ranging from long, narrow pine boxes to the elaborate roll of papier mache. The material of which very good ones are made is common heavy paste board or building paper. This should be cut in sheets one yard square; bend the opposite sides and make a lap of two inches on either edge; then fasten by tacking to a narrow strip of, wood on the inside. This is one of the trimmer's most useful fixtures for displaying the various sort of dress fabrics upon.
The simplest method to drape a dummy is to select a piece of goods say 40 inches in width, and cover the front half of the dummy either with pleats or laid plain around the surface. Then take one end of the material, about a yard or a little over from the drum, and form an "apron" drapery at the side. The balance of the material may be used to form the upper drapery and a graceful puff at the top. Six yards of material is required to drape a dummy in this style, although two or three yards may easily be stuffed inside and concealed. Another method is to combine two different materials in thus draping the form, one color representing the skirt (around the body of drum) and the other color the drapery. Another very pretty effect is to cover the drum plainly as above described; then "gather" the material into pleated lengths of one yard each—with the pleated points hanging down in a sufficient number to cover that portion of the drum exposed to view Shorter pleats may be made and laid over the longer ones—as many rows as the trimmer desires, or the goods will make, thus increasing the size of the display.
To drape printed cotton goods, such as sateens, challies, or baptistes, it is best to lay them in close folds over the form or box, barely touching the floor; pin only the top, letting the bottom fall gracefully. After the form is closely folded on the front part bring the goods to the back and around to the front or side of the form, leaving the full width of the goods hanging loosely. About nine inches from the end gather them neatly and tightly together, and pin these gathered knots to the top of the form about nine inches from front corner, and you will have completed the so-called overskirt or drapery. The balance of the goods leave for the bustle and back drapery, which are generally the most impressive and effective for display. Gather and fold the entire balance of the material and pin against the form every nine inches, allowing the goods to be fifteen inches apart. The entire back of form being completed, put all the folded goods so arranged slightly apart, and they will form a very nice back drapery and bustle combined. If you desire a folded back drapery, simply let the goods sag loosely every twelve inches, and pin in succession, without gathering. In the first row place sateens, the next challies and the last baptistes. A very pleasing effect will also be produced by reversing every tier—that is, having the forms all facing to the right on the first row, the left on the second and again to the right on the third. As these forms taper in shape as well as in dressing, it is necessary to cover all the steps with similar goods to avoid vacant spaces and to cover the woodwork. A braided panel or set, a girdle here and there, attached in the proper place, will add considerably to the general effect. Always add price tickets, but not too large on such forms, as they almost invariably prove a valuable agent in selling the goods.
The tiers in this window are arranged to be about thirty inches in height. Substantial tiers are not absolutely necessary in duplicating this trim, as the foundation for the dummies to rest upon can be made by using two wide boards, resting on a dummy, or a box, at either end. The draping is simple, as will be seen from the illustration. If other styles of drapery is desired, see Pages 503 to 507.
Another splendid device for displaying dress goods upon is the arm rack, composed of a short upright board, from a foot to fourteen inches in height, nailed to a cross board of equal dimensions. This is made stationary by means of tacking a slanting strip to the upright. A drapery similar to the figure on Page 490 can be displayed upon the arm rack.
In large windows, especially bay windows, an attractive way to display dress fabrics, as well as all other goods of like character, is to get seven-or more long, narrow boxes, say about five feet in height and from nine to twelve inches in width and about six in depth, and place them in an upright position, about three or four feet back from the window panes, and three feet apart, in two rows, one row behind the other, three in the first and four in the second, having the boxes of the first row standing in front of the spaces between the second row. Take the goods and drape them in long, graceful streamers from the top of the box-to the floor, taking pains to have as many streamers from each box as will be necessary to conceal the same completely. In case the window should be a small one, have but a single row, and that of but two boxes, filling the spaces between with fancy fans or other suitable articles.