Buying A Dress Form
When my friends and family imagine me making my own clothes, they imagine a studio with dress forms located all over, layered with me made clothing, for that British Sewing Bee vibe. But the reality is: I’d never actually owned a dress form before. That’s not to say I didn’t want one, I think they’re every sewists’ dream! But the reality is, a custom fitting form can be darn expensive and alongside purchasing new fabric and sewing materials, it always found it’s way to the bottom of the priority list!
That’s when I was lucky enough to be gifted a dress form from TEXI who I recently became a brand ambassador for and oh my, she’s really beautiful! In a gorgeous magenta pink/purple with SO many adjustment features, I could not be happier with her.
I’m not going to say that having a dress form is an essential for creating me-made-clothing, heck it’s not! I’ve been doing just fine without one for years. What I will say is that it has made my life easier. No more taking clothes on and off to ensure they fit the way I want them to, or accidentally stabbing myself with pins or awkward shimmies to get the clothing off, and lining up seams and prints is significantly easier. But honestly, I think my favorite thing about owning my new dress form is that she just makes me happy because it’s always been a dream of mine to own one. So I thought I’d share with you a few tips on buying a dress form and where I would shop.
If like to hack a pattern to fit you perfectly or you love using draping techniques to design your own clothes then I definitely recommend getting a custom fit or adjustable dress form.
This is the dress form I have, and I love it because I can adjust the bodice to my body measurements as many times as I want. There are 12 different adjustments you can make! I think this is a great feature because at the end of the day, our bodies are constantly changing. I know I’m not the only one whose body shape has completely transformed during the global pandemic and I hate the idea of spending money on an item which is supposed to reflect your body shape only to wake up one day and realise that’s just not my shape anymore!
The Texi dress form comes in 2 shapes: one is sized 36-42 and a curvier version in 42-48.
I also like the hem line marking feature and I will definitely be using this for my next long dress!
I really love these dress forms! I mean who doesn’t want to make a complete stuffed version of themselves to dress in their me-made clothes? I know I do! I’ll put it out there, I’ve never actually bought one of these, but I really wanted to. They are literally a custom fit! I just love the idea of making my own mannequin from the most beautiful fabric. Be sure to check out the hashtag #bootstrapfashiondressform on Instagram to see some of the gorgeous designs people have made.
If you’re really on a budget and you want to make your own dress form, then there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube which show you step by step instructions on how to make a custom fit dress form using duct tape. The basis is, you wear an old t-shirt and you get a friend to help you wrap layers of duct tape around you and you cut yourself out of the wrap. You seal the opening and stuff it and voila! You’re done! I know plenty of people have tried this method and swear it’s acceptable if you really need a dress form but there are some cons (slightly awkward to make) so I recommend researching beforehand to see if this really is the right method for you!
If you’re happy with buying a non-adjustable mannequin, then there are a lot of options out there for you! So instead of offering advice as to where to shop, I will offer you two tips on what I would recommend looking for in a dress form.
Design and practicality:
Obviously, you’re going to want a form that fits your body type so I’m not going to go into too much detail about that. But also, does it allow you to do the things you need to do with it? Is it purely for photo purposes? Is your body in a transition season and you’d like to adjust the form? Do you make more pants than tops? Do you need arms for adding sleeves? Or a caged hem? Collapsable shoulders? Is it heavy and are you going to need to move it? I could go on forever, but I highly recommend thinking about what you need your dress form for and is this product practical for you.
For me, this is essential. I want to be able to hold pattern pieces onto the mannequin to line up prints and see the fit, and without being able to pin the fabric to the mannequin, I wouldn’t be able to do that unless the fabric was already semi sewn. When looking for a pinnable dress form, you’re essentially looking for a dress form that has at least a thin layer of foam – the more foam, the more pinnable the form. Too much soft foam and your mannequin becomes a bit floppy.
Finally, and possibly the most important factor to consider is budget. I’ll say it again for those in the back, I don’t feel that a dress form is an essential tool if you’re just starting out home sewing. My budget for a dress form is a lot less than say for.. a new sewing machine with an automatic needle up/down, for example! But if you’re doing a lot of fitting or want to try draping techniques, OR just love the look of a dress form in your space and it makes you happy, then it’s money well spent.
Have any questions? Drop a comment below!
Until next time,