Sewing Cafe

Patterns, Tutorials and Works in Progress from the Sewing Studio of Lynne Williams

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dress Form Evaluation Part 1 - Purpose & Cost

All my girls...and boys are lined up for inspection. 
and it is now time to begin our series on 
Dress Form Evaluation.  
What are they for?
What do they cost?
Is it worth the expense? 
These questions and others(if you have them) will be answered in this series.

U.Y. $215.  Superior $350.   Fab. Fit  $750-2200.   U.Y $375.00   Wolf $375.00 
These are my working dress forms.

There is also this...

flea market find $10-? + time

Which is used for Display purposes in the fitting room.

And although I do not own one, there is also this...

My Double Deluxe  $ 107.-160.
Whoops I almost forgot this very popular option which I have made for clients as well.
The Duct tape form

From Threads Magazine  $125-250 + time

  What do I use my Dress Forms for:

          1. Design analysis - Being able to stand back and look at a garment is critical to evaluating its effectiveness.  You are able to see the whole garment as others view it.  This is not possible while looking in the mirror, because a mirror flattens the image.  Additionally when we view ourselves our critic goes on high alert, and we have difficulty seeing beyond our perceived body flaws.  The dress form removes these issues and allows you to evaluate the proportions and adjust them.  I often leave a garment on my form for days on end while making design decisions.  This allows me to evaluate it with a fresh eye every time I enter the studio.

          2. Hemming - A very basic use, but a proper hem one that is intentionally parallel to the floor or not creates a professional look to any garment.  Uneven hems highlight large hips, large or flat buttocks, dipping waistlines, and bulging abdomens.  Not to mention they just give a sloppy appearance.
          3. Draping / pattern making - The quickest way to design and create proper fitting patterns for yourself is done using a dress form that has been modified to fit you. This has been well documented on Project Runway where the designers drape their patterns, sometimes directly in their chosen fabrics.

          4. Fitting - Fitting garments on yourself can be frustrating to impossible.  A dress Form that has been modified to fit you, resolves this as well.  By placing your garment on the form you can pin out unnecessary ease, release seams where strain exists, lengthen, shorten, adjust button placement, collar shape, neckline depths, etc.   It will not replace a test fit on you completely, as it you will still need to feel the fit, while sitting and moving, but it will get you closer to the goal with less clothing changes and more accuracy.

          5. Display - What can I say about this that you do not already know.  If you have vintage garments, family garments, newly accomplished projects it is fun and rewarding to show them off.

As this series progress we will evaluate each type of form to see how well they provide these uses.  You may not need your form to do it all, maybe hemming, fitting and display are all that you require.  Maybe you want to start an Indie pattern company, or start an alterations, dressmaking business. Maybe you just want to enjoy sewing for yourself.  Truly the correct dress form will help you do all of this better:)


  1. I'll be curious to see how you like the Fabulous Fit form. I have the pad set from them, a gift from my daughter a while back, and have been thinking of buying one of their forms to use for garments for myself. That would leave my adjustable form free for using with my clients' garments. Do you feel the Fabulous Fit form is a good alternative to a real, professional form?

    1. I feel the fabulous fit is a professional form. I understand it is used in the industry, as they will provide custom forms based on design house specs along with their standard models.
      The pads are to appeal to the dressmaker, costumer and home sewer.

      And welcome aboard Janee:)

  2. Finally I have found someone with more dress forms than I have! Thanks for the tour.

    1. Oh dear...I don't know if that is a good thing or not-lol
      Well I hope you will continue to chime in and add your thoughts on the different options.

  3. I have a vintage freebie with so many adjustments on it you would think it could fit ANYone!

    But not me, sadly. It has to do mostly with the torso length - from shoulder to bust line it's too long, and shoulder to waist is too short, and I can't adjust it any further :(.

    I did pad it out with the FF pad set, so it's close, but I would so love to have a form I could actually do some real fitting on! I'll be curious to see what you have to say :)

    1. I hear you loud and clear, the vertical adjustments are almost always the deal breaker. Hope we can find a solution for you Jilly Be:)

  4. I also have a half size mannequin. I use it to evaluate style lines and proportions.

    1. Have been thinking of getting one of these for a project that my husband and I have talking about, but never used one directly. Thanks for mentioning it here, as they can be a nice option.

  5. I couldn't be without my mannequin now :) She doesn't ever complain when she gets pins stuck in her either

  6. So true. I will say I have never met a "Diva" dress form-lol


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