Monday, October 28, 2013

Fluting Iron

We had a few really great guesses on Facebook this week. Both Lorelei and Jessie suggested that this was some kind of (dangerous) hair crimper. Lorelei also suggested that this might be a pasta machine (which is what this reminds me of most). The correct answer came from Jenifer, who said it was for pleating fabric.

This week’s artifact is called a fluting iron, and it is indeed meant to create tiny pleats in strips of fabric. This model is from 1875, and just looking at fashion plates from the era, you can tell why these machines were popular. Tiny pleats were everywhere in women’s fashion: along the hems of dresses, on collars, bonnets, and just about anywhere else they could manage to squeeze on some pleated trim.
From the Godey's Lady's Book
There were many different models of fluting iron available, even some that actually looked like irons and worked by sandwiching the fabric between the zig-zagging face of the iron and a matching plate. 

The model featured in our mystery artifact post worked by turning the handle to run a strip of fabric between the spinning wheels (actually rather like a pasta machine, if you've ever used one of those). If you want to read more about these neat little machines, I highly recommend this post from the Montgomery County Historical Society's blog. 

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