Arm-ed and Dangerous

It’s not me that I’m referring to, but my dress form! Diana is now arm-ed and perhaps not very dangerous, but I liked the post title anyways.

dress form arm

Ha ha! I’m resisting making more arm jokes because I’m not sure they are really as funny as I think. But hey, look! Diana has an arm.

arm for dress form

It’s stuffed, made of muslin, and pins in place over the shoulder area. You can pin it on or take it off as needed. Isn’t it neat?

arm for dress form

I was meeting with Caroline and saw her stuffed arm in her studio – of course an arm-pillow caught my attention! She’d made it in fashion school, but doesn’t have a dress form so she wasn’t using it. And she lent it to me!

sleeve for dress form

What is the purpose of the stuffed arm? Well, if you are designing a garment with sleeves, you can try it on to see what the sleeve will look like with an arm inside. If your garment has an extended cap sleeve, like the Cambie Dress or the Anna Dress, then the arm fills out the upper shoulder area.

The arm has the grainlines basted along the length and width, indicating the elbow point, and the centre line of the arm. You can see how it’s shaped to follow the natural curve of the arm, bending at the elbow.

dress form arm

I was curious, as I’d never made a padded dress form arm. Was this a thing? I like symmetry, I kind of want her to have two arms. Were there any tutorials out there on how to make one? Of course there are!

Here are some links I found:

Many of these links call it a dress form sleeve, not an arm. Just in case you wanted to do some searching of your own!

arm for dress form

It was really nice of  Caroline to lend me a hand arm. You can make your own and it won’t cost an arm or leg. I bet this will be useful as I work on designing jackets, coats, long sleeve blouses and other garments that would benefit from a padded arm!

What do you think? Would you find a dress form sleeve or dress form arm useful? (Any arm jokes to add?)

, ,

30 Responses to Arm-ed and Dangerous

  1. Rachel W December 2, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Ah, this is fantastic! I would definitely have to make my own, since I have a very full upper arm, but it would be so useful. Thank you so much for linking to the drafting tutorial!

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

      So glad it’s useful! Totally, drafting your own would allow you to use your own arm’s measurements and get it closer to your body’s shape.

  2. Catherine December 2, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    I don’t have a dress form, but if I did, I’d want it to be armed too!

  3. Candace December 2, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    one of mine came with magnetic detachable arms, which is cool. I rarely use them but they are good to have on…hand ;)

    [it’s this one from perfect fit forms –

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

      Good to have on *hand* – awesome! I’d imagine it would be something you wouldn’t use all the time. Especially if you put them away, out of sight, out of mind. :)

  4. Nona December 2, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    Hi Tasia, Great addition to your tool set… You might want to make it out of a slippery fabric… satin or a lining fabric… to make it easier to slip fabric over… Just a thought.

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Good idea! I just pictured trying on a muslin blouse over the muslin arm.. that would be a bit of a pain.

  5. Diane @ Vintage Zest December 2, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Ooh! I think I need to add some arms to Lily (my dress-form double). I have wide shoulders but smaller arms in contrast, so this would be great for a long-sleeved sweater dress I have cut out and ready to sew!

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Ah, good point about making the sleeves/arms match the dimensions of your arms!

  6. Erin B December 2, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I haven’t often wanted arms on my dress form but often wished she had legs so I can judge where a skirt falls or how pants fit. I suppose legs would be muuuuch harder than arms though. My dress form doesn’t fit my funky short shoulder to bust point meansurement so I don’t really use it for fitting but more for hanging skirts and dresses before hemming. From a design perspective however I can see how the arm would be quite useful. I would definitely have to make a mate though as asymetry drives me mad.

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

      Oh yeah, legs would be useful. You can’t try shorts or pants if they’re a ‘dress’ on their lower half. I think if your dress form has a dress-style lower torso you couldn’t add legs, or you could, but the crotch wouldn’t be right.
      If you scroll down here - – they have some with ‘shorts’ lower bodies which would help. And if you keep on rolling down they have some with legs to the ankles. So they do exist!

  7. Helen December 2, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    This looks really good. Sometimes when fitting a long sleeve item the sleeves just hang down limp, actually having an arm is going to give a much better idea of fit. Well done!

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm #


  8. Sarah December 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    Useful yet slightly creepy!

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Haha yeah, it is creepy I suppose! It was kind of random to see an arm in Caroline’s sewing basket. :)

  9. Linda December 2, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Now I want one! I think it would be “handy” for deciding on and marking sleeve length!

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

      ‘Handy’ – love it! Yes, especially if you made it correspond to the length of your arm.

  10. TinaLou December 2, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Thank you SO much for sharing this – I have made several unsuccessful attempts at replicating an arm for my dressform (disposable water bottle, styrofoam block pared to size). This looks like it will be just what I need to work out my forward shoulder fit issues. And slippery outer fabric is a genius idea as well.

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      I’m so glad this was useful! I’d never thought about it and I figured if it was new to me, then it might be interesting to you guys as well! You could pin it on in more of a forward position to imitate your posture, too.

  11. Lucy December 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Hmmm…not a bad idea. Certainly couldn’t do any ‘arm.

    • Tasia December 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Ahaha! Awesome ;)

  12. Ronda December 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I just bought a new dressform which comes with a right arm. I haven’t as yet used it! This stockist is from Oz but I think the supplier is from U.S.

  13. Tiffany December 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Now you have an interesting way to explain any sewing mishaps… “It wasn’t me! It was the one-armed dress form!” (hehe)

  14. Ally - Design Rewind Fashions December 3, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    What a genius idea! I love making dresses with long sleeves for winter and now I can see I need to add a new sewing project to my list. Thanks also for your link for the lower half. I didn’t even know these things existed. It will certainly help me get a ‘leg up’ on my sewing :)

    • Tasia December 3, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Ahaha, a ‘leg up’ – love it! Yes, we had them in college, some dress forms with full legs, some with just the dress-style torso. Some of them are suspended from the neck so you can get to the pants part easily.

  15. Ellen December 3, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    What kind of dress form do you have? Would you recommend it?

  16. Cathie Sue December 4, 2013 at 5:11 am #

    I predict an army of armed dress forms.

  17. Diana December 5, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    You cracked me up this morning! Loving the name. Diana is very shapely, with well built arms! xoxo – Diana

  18. Sarah August 26, 2015 at 4:40 am #

    Does anyone know where I might be able to buy an add on arm??