Let’s Talk Dress Forms, Again

Hey everyone! Thanks for the comments about my fabric goodies I showed yesterday. It’s nice to know many of you fabric-shop on holidays, even when camping! While I’m not surprised, it’s cool that many of you bring home fabric or yarn as souvenirs, and remember the good times from your holidays all over again when you finally get to making something.

Today I wanted to talk dress forms. One of the questions I get asked frequently is about dress forms, what I use and what I’d recommend. I’m not an expert on the subject, having used the same brand and type of dress form all my life. (First my mother’s Diana dress form, then my very own Diana.) I wrote a post about my dress form a couple years back, but since it keeps coming up I though it was a worthwhile topic to revisit. For all the people that keep asking about dress forms, I’d love to give them a more thorough response from people who’ve tried different brands and types of dress forms. The more opinions, the better!

You can read the original post here – Meet Diana. Most of it’s still true, but I’ll highlight some of the things I like about her:

  • Adjustability – you can adjust her bust, waist and hips as well as her height and torso length. (In the original post I wrote that ‘I can be anywhere from a 33″ bust to a 39.5″ bust’ – what I meant was, theoretically I could be those sizes because I could adjust Diana to fit, not that my actual size fluctuates that much. At that point in my blog, I was still figuring out how to explain my thoughts properly online when I can’t hand-gesture along with my words!)
  • Pin-ability – you can pin into her, sort of. (I’ve seen dress forms that you can pin straight into, much deeper than you can pin into Diana. Think of pinning into Diana like pinning into your coat – you can only pin through her skin, not straight into her like you could pin into a pillow. I hope this makes sense!)
  • Affordability – I think the price (around $200?) is pretty reasonable.
  • One other thing I didn’t mention the first time is that she’s quite lightweight, and the stand and the body come apart for easy storage and moving. So if you had to keep her in a closet and only take her out when needed, this is a good type of dress form.

Overall, I still wish she was a less distinct colour. If she was neutral-toned, or black or white, I could use her for photo shoots and it would look like a catalogue. But if I were to use purple Diana, it would look less pro. Plus, I’d have to consider what colours look good on purple skin when choosing fabric for samples!

If I were to upgrade, I think I’d do one of two things. On one hand I’ve considered finding a beige or black or white mannequin for photo shoot purposes, while still using purple Diana for fittings or testing out ideas. The disadvantages of that would be that a stock-size mannequin won’t fit the proportions of my size chart, so I’d need to keep both and that takes up a lot of space. (And I think it would be confusing to see patterns that are designed for pear-shaped women modelled on a standard-proportioned mannequin with very narrow hips. The mannequins I’ve looked at have the same measurements for their bust and waist, not at all what I’d want!)

If I were to do a big upgrade, I’d look for one of those fully customizable dress forms that you pad to fit your exact dimensions, putting the curves in the right places. Then she’d be wonderful for fitting and for photo shoots. Or a custom dress form to fit my sample size. I believe those are the type you can pin right into as well. Price-wise, that’s a bit of a jump at this point, but it’s something to aspire to! (Have you splurged for a custom-fit dress form or one of those pad-it-up-yourself forms? What were they like?)

While my Diana dress form was a gift, not a purchase that I researched thoroughly before deciding on the best alternative, I enjoy her and use her frequently. This was of course well before I had a sewing-based business! There are plenty of options for dress forms. Duct-tape body doubles are a cheap alternative to custom dress forms. (Never done it personally, but there are plenty of tutorials and examples online on how to make one yourself.)  Buying one second-hand is a great way to save money but I’ve heard it can take a lot of searching to find one as they sell fast.

What about you? What kind of dress form do you have, and what do you like about it? (What don’t you like about it?) Was it a worthwhile purchase or do you rarely use it? What would you recommend for someone buying their first dress form? If you were to upgrade, what features would you be looking for?

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129 Responses to Let’s Talk Dress Forms, Again

  1. annabelvita August 21, 2012 at 6:40 am #

    My dress form is a vintage chil-daw tailors dummy from the 50s called Doris – I bought her from her first owner’s daughter-in-law. She’s really pretty (http://annabelvita.com/2012/06/19/my-new-friend-vintage-chil-daw-tailors-dummy/) so totally perfect for blogging and is at least a little bit adjustable (you can’t adjust length or really make the bust and hips that different to each other). She’s great for hanging hems and working on straps and stuff (and blog pictures) but I’d need to pad her to make her really handy to have around. She’s not pinnable herself but I have an old tight long tshirt/dress that I pop on her to pin with.

    She cost £55, which I figured was about the same price as an unadjustable shop dummy and she’s at least better than that. One day I’d like something like Diana, but as I sew in our living room (and don’t have anywhere to store a dummy), it’s nice that having a vintage dressform means she looks decorative.

    • annabelvita August 21, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      PS. I should add that I live down the road from my mum, so when I need help pinning up a back seam, I just pop over to her house! So my needs from a dressform are less stringent.

      • Sewing Princess August 28, 2012 at 2:16 am #

        How lucky! I wish I had that…much more reliable than a dress form. I don’t have one yet and have been debating whether it would make a difference if it can never be your body double

  2. Rachel August 21, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    I have a lovely Uniquely You dress form (http://www.allbrands.com/products/3900-uniquely-you-professional-dress-form-tan-29-95-dol). I spend about $200 to get the dress form & the correct cover. It’s fitted to my measurements, it’s pinnable, & the curves are more like a real body because it’s foam. I did end up putting the foam breasts into a bra to give them the right under clothing shape but mostly I’ thrilled with my choice. And I can buy add on items like a pant cover, maternity pad, or other items to customize the form as I go along.

    • Nothy Lane August 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      I am so glad you posted about the uniquely-you dress form. I have been looking at getting one for a while but I couldn’t find any customer feedback on it! Thanks again!

    • Mollie January 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

      I am so glad that I saw this! And the price is not too bad either! I have been holding back on sewing dresses while at home and not at school because I don’t have a dress form! I am so grateful I saw this, and with informative feedback too! I will have to save up to purchase this!

  3. Amy August 21, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    I have three dress forms. I have a dritz adjustable form (in every way but waist length). I love this one because of how light it is and I can lift her right off the stand and carry her around with one hand. I use this mostly for hanging pattern pieces while I work on another form right now.

    The form I never use is my industrial size 8 collapsable dress form I had to buy for fashion school. she has a 27 inch waist and no butt. She’s fantastic for draping and little else.

    The one I use constantly is the my Uniquely You form. I almost returned the form after I got it because every time I fit the cover to myself and zipped it onto the foam, it expanded a little and I’d have to fit it again. In the end, I used a serrated knife to relocate some of the foam from the breasts to the hips and slim down the waist and I made a new cover out of canvas to fit. *now* it’s the most useful form I own and I love it. It’s my size, there are no gaps (like in the center of the dritz form when she’s expanded to my size) so I can drape properly from the center of the form. My biggest complaint is that the shoulders are not collapsible, so getting dresses off of her can be a chore.


    • amy August 21, 2012 at 7:02 am #

      also: this is what I did when I had to “model” things on my adjustable form: http://cl.ly/Irsd

    • Diana April 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm #


      If you’re ever interested in selling your size 8, flat-bottomed, girl, let me know! I’m in the market for exactly that!


  4. Kelly August 21, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Does anyone have any advice as to a good dress form for plus sizes? (I wear a US size 22, for reference.)

    • Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Kelly, that is my size so I would be anxious to know what gets recommended. Thanks!

    • Maureen November 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      Kelly, how about the Singer Adjustable Large? This form goes from size 16 to size 22. I use these forms in my dressmaker shop. I like them for my personal use as well as my weight (and therefore my dress size) fluctuates greatly.

    • Betty Edwards February 26, 2013 at 11:53 am #

      I have a plus size dress form for sale, not used more than five times because i moved and started other hobbies, if you are still interested you can call me at 903-882-0269.

      • Cindy Byrd March 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

        Hi, did you sell your dress form yet? If not, can you tell me a bit about it? Thank you.

      • sheron April 25, 2013 at 6:39 am #

        Hi, i haven’t seen a response that the dressform isn’t available any longer. If it is i am interested.

    • Callastitch June 3, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      I just finished a dress for a girl with size 20 top and 24 bottom. I have a Dritz My Double Deluxe Size Small and with the wait padded out, It was a little tight but did the job. Dritz has a Size Medium MY Double Deluxe which has more than enough adjustment but, believe me, padding it out to make it like you, is the best way to go. Hope this helps. I was on ebay today and they had a dress form for full figured women. Not a bad price. Check it out

    • Samthann February 7, 2014 at 5:36 am #

      I recommend a duct tape body form. That way it is YOU. I will be making a “me” in the next month or two. I’m much larger than you. None of the forms will get to my size. Even if they could, the breasts would be wrong. I can’t even find a good fitting bra, so I need a “me” to make them for myself.

      • katie-Jane December 12, 2014 at 3:15 am #

        For good fitting bras for “big boobed” women try Bravissimo. Its a UK Company; sells on-line and is great.

  5. Deirdre August 21, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    I have a Uniquely You, which is nice, but it’s way too big for me right now :(

    If you want to use your Diana for modeling pictures, how about making a cover for her? Perhaps a heavy white or off-white stretchy fabric? I think something heavy/thick might be needed to cover up the purple, and something stretchy would ensure it fits if she’s been adjusted a bit.

  6. Sew Little Time August 21, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    i have a diana adjustable too – i have called her marjorie. i just bought her secondhand and i love her. i think it will be so much easier to show off part finished garments on the blog and she certainly helped with some invisible zip problems i was having recently. my main pattern adjustment is length (i am 5’9″ and have a long waist) and she is ideal for that. she also means i don’t have to wait for a great hair/ face day to take pics of items!

    kelly – the diana comes in 4 sizes and size C is a UK 22-26 (i think that’s a US 20-24)

  7. Marie August 21, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    I also have a red Diana for fitting purposes and she does the job relatively well. I pretty much agree with all your comments on the subject. I too hated her colour for blog photos though, so I invested in a size 12 UK (my size) white, non-adjustable dummy purely for photos. This has worked well for me, but only because both dummy’s live in the hallway (and occassionally scare me in the mornings)…otherwise I’d have no room for both elsewhere!

  8. agirlinwinter August 21, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    I bought my first dress form recently. I got a Lady Valet http://sewing-online.com/Equipment/dress_forms/lady_valet_dress_form/ and so far I’m really pleased. She’s adjustable at bust, waist and hips and also by height. I like the fact she looks nice as I don’t have a separate sewing room, so she’s in the middle of my living room. So pleased I bought a dress form, it’s proving really helpful.

    • Alyssa November 30, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      How much did it come out to? I’m not to sure on how to convert to USA currency..

  9. Lauren August 21, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    My form is similar to Diana – just a cheap, lightweight, “adjustable” deal. I’m really not a huge fan of it – it’s soo cheap! I hate that pins are hard to stick into it & I think the adjustability is a total joke. It might be easier for people who have different proportions, but it does not work with my hourglass shape – the waist adjusts with the bust, so one is going to be too big/small no matter what I do. I did get a padding kit (I used the Fabulous Fit system) and it works ok but there is still something “off” about the proportions – she has my measurements, but the clothing still does not fit. I think my actual ribcage is smaller than the form’s. At any rate, it’s good for displaying, I suppose. Eventually i want to upgrade to a pro form, but it’ll be a couple of years :)

    Also, you can get a cover for your form! Mine was red but now she has a muslin cover… and it looks 100x more expensive haha :)

  10. susanna August 21, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    I have a Lady , she is beautiful, really vintage looking and natural colour! http://sewing-online.com/Equipment/dress_forms/lady_valet_dress_form/#.UDOf76nN-So She is fully adjustable, bustm waist, hips and torso length, but the porportions does not suit my body so I have put a bra on her and also need sholder pads. I have alsu tightened the top if the hips with dukt tape to make it more similar to my body shape! I think tha Lady is a good pear shape kind of dress form and also she is cheaper than Diana and you can pin in her just as well as you can in Diana.

    I love your patterns but I am not pear shape so I have to adjust them to fit my non exixting hips!

  11. Stephani August 21, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    I have an industry-standard dress-maker’s form, the kind with a nice linen cover and is pinnable with collapsible shoulders. However, as my proportions and measurements are not “standard” I haven’t used her much. I’m in the process (long, drawn-out) of padding her with the Fabulous Fit system, but it’s very difficult to accurately mimick all your body’s lumps, bumps, and volumes. It’s a great system, and I’m convinced that I will eventually get it right and have a great dress form to use, but it’s taking a long time.
    A few years ago I roped a friend into helping me make a duct-tape dummy. But I’ve seen many versions of them, and from what I’ve seen–and experienced–they just don’t work that well. In theory, they should work great. But all those layers of duct tape actually add to your body’s measurements. And their success really can depend on the attention and care paid by the person who is taping you.
    I’m intrigued by the Uniquely You forms, and I considered buying one for myself. But again, it’s very difficult to fit oneself accurately. Plus, they’re not very adjustable for lost/gained weight.
    The whole situation is kind of a conundrum: I need a dress form to help fit myself, but to get a good dress form I have to fit myself accurately. And no, I don’t have any sewing buddies who can help. The angst of the solitary sewer is mine!
    I am still convinced my dress form/Fab Fit padding system is going to work–eventually.

  12. soisewedthis August 21, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    I bought an adjustable form super cheap off craigslist. I blogged about it here: http://soisewedthis.blogspot.com/2012/07/au-revoir-tallia.html
    But she’s much too large in the chest for me, even at the smallest setting. So I’ve been looking around trying to see what the best options are for a replacement. I’m new to sewing so I think I’ll wait before splurging on a high quality dress form. I was wondering if anyone had an opinion about which of the cheaper adjustable forms are best (and ship to the US)? I’ve seen ones by Singer, Dritz… any recommendations?

  13. Aline August 21, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    My dress form is a custom self made one. It’s made from my basic bodice block in canvas, then filled with foam bits and sawdust and covered with a pretty fabric. I went to a sewing course to make it and in total it amounted to about 250$.
    I’m extremely happy with it, as it is almost perfectly a copy of my body, so perfet for pinning and such.

    There are some pictures of it on Burdastyle: http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/perfect-copy-of-me

    • soisewedthis August 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

      That looks great!! I’d love to make one like that!

    • Bella August 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

      Me, too! And I love that plaid fabric.

    • Dana August 22, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

      Wow that is fantastic! Very jealous.

    • Laurie B. August 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

      I would love to learn how to make a dress form like that! I am certain the plaid really helps in fitting because you have some built-in lines–but it looks cute too. My mother took some sewing course when she was in college (in the 1920’s) and I remember that she mentioned doing something like this…where you make your own dress form.

      Can you tell us where you took your course?

      • Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

        I remember reading an article by Palmer/Pletsch years ago and it mentioned covering a dressform in gingham, so you would have it as a guide for pinning straight.

    • Diana April 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      I agree with the other ladies – she is awesome.

  14. Jessica August 21, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    Like Stephani, I have a more professional kind of industry dress form (collapsible shoulders, fully pinnable), and I also don’t use it very often because it really doesn’t mimic my shape (none of them do…I had a Dritz “my double” which looks comparable to your DIana and even though it was adjustable, it still wasn’t the right shape even when adjusted to the proper dimensions). I bought it a few years ago directly from the manufacturer, but now I see they’re being sold on Simplicity’s site: http://www.simplicity.com/p-4138-ladies-dress-form-with-hips.aspx

    I really need to look into some sort of padding system for it so I could actually use it to drape with! Or, I could always just stop being lazy and drape with it as is and then do a FBA on the pattern once it’s made.

  15. Amanda August 21, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    I don’t have a dress form, but I’m searching for one (mostly on Craigslist and second hand stores). I don’t think it’s going to happen, though- I’m INSANELY petite and all the dress forms I can find are too big. The adjustable ones are too big even when set to the smallest setting. I’m actually thinking of looking for a child’s dress form (are those a thing?) since I have the body type of a hippy ten year old boy.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      Angela below mentioned getting a ‘junior’s’ Diana dress form – that way it’s not a child, still more womanly that a litle girl, but the proportions are better for a petite. That might be worth looking into!

    • Barbara August 25, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      Did you look at the Uniquely You smallest size form at the Allbrands site? I think Uniquely You is the absolute best.

  16. Sam August 21, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    My dress form was a cheap-ish one from Ebay. It was new – for some reason I felt a bit squeamish about buying a “used” one. Her name is Rosie, as she has a cream background with tiny red and pink roses all over. She’s very lightweight and you can just about pin into her.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t adjust her to my measurements, as I have a large bust compared to my ribcage, so she wears one of my bras stuffed with toy filling, poor girl!

    I’d love to try and make a cover for her one day, so I could put the padding under that.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      Rosie, covered in roses! She sounds so pretty. Sounds like quite a few people have their dress forms wearing an old bra to get them closer to the right shape!

    • Bella August 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      Yep, mine has a bra, too!

  17. Janice August 21, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    I have a bright blue dressform (named Smurfette) that I got in Joanne’s with a coupon for pretty cheap when I started sewing. I plan to use the same dressform to start doing some draping, so I’m going to stuff in all her gaping parts and cover her in muslin so she’s more neutral-looking. You might be able to do the same thing to your Diana, dress her in a muslin? I’m using my bodice/hip block to draft a version that fits Smurfette.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      I laughed at ‘stuff in all her gaping parts’ – poor Smurfette! :) What are you going to use – cotton batting? Pillow stuffing? I have a vision of using that foam insulation stuff – probably you can pin into it!
      That’s a good idea to use a pattern block to create a cover. Someone who didn’t have a fitted bodice block could use a bodice pattern that fits well and start from there.

      • Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

        Didn’t someone recommend filling a duct tape body form with that spray-in foam insulation? Hmmmm.

  18. CGCouture August 21, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    I have a standard petite (because I’m short) dritz dressform (mine was grey). It’s adjustable to a certain degree, though if you are a slightly plus sized person, it’s not going to expand enough to be effective. I also bought the padding out kit with the beige cover (you can see the exact one I got here: http://www.fabulousfit.com/fitting_system.html)

    I’ll be completely honest. I’m not really sold on the fitting system. It’s expensive, and if you are petite and need extra padding somewhere you may not have enough pads to get you there. For example, I needed at least 2x the number of pads to get the bust where I am IRL, so I had to improvise. I felt like if I paid that much money for the system I shouldn’t have had to come up with extra materials to pad out my dressform. But, other people seem to be fairly happy with it, so it’s all relative to your personal needs.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

      Thanks for the honest feedback, it’s nice to know when something sounds good but is tricky/expensive to actually work with. So you can add the pads to a regular adjustable dress form like mine? I could see why it would be annoying if the kit wasn’t enough padding in the right spots. (If you bought one at the same time as a friend who needed extra hip pads, you could trade parts to make it work.)

      • CGCouture August 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

        Yes, you can add the kit to a dressform like yours if you want (mine’s pretty similar, just in a different brand and color). Or I think you can just purchase (or make) a cover that is plain beige if you don’t need the extra padding of a kit like that.

        The only problem with exchanging parts with someone is if their body shape changed over time–then they’d want their spare parts back!

    • Astroiguana January 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

      I have a fabulous fit form. When I first padded it out to my measurements, it just wasn’t right even though it was right to the measurements. My husband walked in and said, “That’s not what you look like!”, and proceeded to rearrange the padding. When he was done, it was MUCH better! The dress form is cylindrical in cross section and I am really more oval (wider than deep). I needed far more padding on the width of the hips and a bit more on the butt. The shoulders are much too narrow on the form, so I used…ermmm… the bust pads to pad out the shoulders because I had little need to add to the form where the bust was! :-P
      Around the waist, I needed some padding on the sides, but not much, so I used quilt batting (being a quilter, I had some scraps in my stash). The batting was good for getting a bit more padding without using the gargantuan pads that I had left in the bag that came with the form. Once the form was padded correctly, it has been GREAT! I can pin right into it–straight and fit things up nearly perfectly. I come really close using that form, but always baste and check it on myself before final sewing if it is a real close fitting garment. The beauty of this form was that when I lost a bunch of weight, I had a friend help me remove the padding appropriately. I was so happy to see, right there in a bag, how much weight I lost! I used the newly repadded form to alter the clothes that could be altered. Since I went from a 10 to a 6, there were some things that were beyond simple altering. I have been happy with the form. I have also used it to block some knitted garments to my shape. The zip up cover holds all of the pads in place, though getting it on her is a bit of a struggle with all the extra bits of padding. I pinned some of them in place to help with that process.

  19. maddie August 21, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    What a great post! I really liked reading your opinion on your dress form.

    I have a dress form and it has been a great investment. I use it to visualize my designs because when we draw them (our designs) on paper, it often times looks quite different in 3D.

    I got my form from Superior Model Form in NYC about 6 years ago but if I were to get another one, I would buy an Alva Form. It’s more TTS and when I was a technical designer, this is the type of forms we used.

    Here is a link for to see what an Alva Form is

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      Those look great! I like all the body shape options – legs, no legs, hanging torso, etc. Even the legs have curve to the thighs. And they have a soft belly! (This makes sense if you’ve tried to button up pants on a dress form, they don’t ‘squish’ the way we do.)
      Those are really nice forms – thanks for the link! (I wonder what pricing is like – perhaps I’ll look into it when I’m serious about buying one!)

      • soisewedthis August 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

        The avla studio dress form looks great. It says it’s on sale for $700 right now on their website:

        Still more than i can spend right now, but i can dream…

        • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

          More than I can spend right now, too. And that’s on sale! Normally $1000. I love that there’s a straight and curvy option and I think it would be a great tool. Certainly the most realistic to the body with its slight tummy, thighs with curves and such.

      • Anne September 1, 2014 at 11:33 am #

        Hey I have a 2005 size missy 6 alvaform. Mint condition. Has collapsible arms with short and full length ( never been used) bought it in college and used it probably 2xs. If interested I can give more info.

  20. Jennifer August 21, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    I have a dress form that I found on Craigslist for $30. I have no idea how old Sally is but she is totally pinnable (she’s made out of foam which I covered with plastic wrap). About the only thing that we have in common is the upper bust size. Other than that, she is smaller than me. I mostly use her to drape my clothing. Right now she’s wearing a jersey dress that I’m going to hem when I get home from work. I haven’t gotten fitting down to a T yet but I don’t think I could use her for that unless I fill out her hips to 44″. not sure how to do that yet.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

      $30 is an awesome price! Lucky find! I wonder how you could fill out the hips. It’s easy to add a bra to give her more of a bust. I’d like to give mine more of a booty, even if I dial her up to the right hip width she’s still rather flat in the back. Maybe something like padded bike shorts, but with padding in the right place..

      • PepperReed August 22, 2012 at 7:06 am #

        I wonder if you could get a ‘panty girdle’ from a thrift store or sears, etc. in a larger size and then stuff it? I’d get a bit larger size than you actually wear because they are supposed to squish you smaller. They tend to be ‘firm’ and would hold the foam in place while mimicking a ‘realistic’ shape for that area.

  21. Heide August 21, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    I have a foam Uniquely You dress form and I do have to agree with other comments, they are hard to fit. But as I use it mostly for display purposes, I am happy with it. The major problems I have with fitting it is the bust and shoulders, I have no where near that broad of shoulders (and there really isn’t a good way to fix that) and the bust is in the wrong spot, I have a high bust (the foam isn’t made to go up!).
    The other thing I dislike, is the cover. The shoulders and neck are exposed and over time the foam turns an unplesant shade of orange. To fix this problem and to make my dress form more photograph freindly, I made a cover out of white knit fabric. It came out wonderful! And was actually pretty simple to make. I just took the fabric and draped it over my dress form. Starting with the fabirc folded lengthwise in half, I places the fold over the neck and smoothed and pinned the side seams and shoulders until it fit. Then I marked the side seams and sewed it up. I had to re-sew a bit to get a better fit, but all in all I am very happy with the way it turned out.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Ah, good point about shoulders. Dress forms all talk about bust-waist-hips without factoring in shoulders, which are so important for a good fit!
      Good to know that making a cover worked well! Plus if you ever needed to recover it later on, it’s probably easier to do once you’ve done it once.

  22. arlene August 21, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    I’m a plus size…and have the largest size adjustable dress form I could find…
    It is too small and cannot be adjusted in the right places…so I padded it! wrapped and stuffed with foam and stuffing…I also put one of my older bras on her and stuffed some more! I did have to make sure that the padding was in the right place – front & back – so garments would hang properly. She doesn’t look that good, but I like her…

    Tasia…..for picture taking…I have seen photos of garments on dress forms that have used a silky, fine fabric to cover/drape over the top of the form. Might be worth a try if you really want to use your dress form for photographs???

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      That’s a good idea about adding a bra to the form, so she’s closer to your shape. In a knitting book I have, they do that to fit sweaters and talk about how bust size affects sweater size, and how it’s different from body sizes.
      Thanks for the idea to cover the dress form – it’s an interesting thought, I could make her whatever colour I liked. (But then she wouldn’t be adjustable in the off chance that I’m sewing for someone other than me or trying out a different size..)

      • Ptinutz October 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

        Maybe instead of silk you can do it in knit fabric it has more space to expend. Nobody has just think about buying a stretch Tshirt and put it on the dress form. I am not a lucky owner of a dress form so I do not know if what I propose is completely stupid.

    • Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      Arlene, which one do you have?

  23. Angela W. August 21, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I too own multiple dress forms. I currently have four – but in my defense – one is a child’s sized form. I own a Diana, a Uniquely You and a commercial display form that happens to be in my size – perfect for pictures. I have done the duct tape/spray foam version, but it just didn’t work for me.
    I bought the Uniquely You when I was heavier, so at the moment she’s not used that often. I need to purchase another cover and redo the sizing. I’m a little glad about that because I think this time I will wear a bra while fitting to ensure my bust doesn’t get completely lost in the fitting. I love that I can pin right into her and I can manipulate her a bit more because of the memory foam.
    My Diana was purchased when I was a starving fashion design student almost 20 years ago and I have had to put her away a couple of times because of weight gain, but she has been a loyal dress form. I have a petite frame so she is actually a junior Diana. She is still my go to form and I can use her when sewing for some of my clients.
    If I had to choose just one…wow – don’t know if I could…

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 11:59 am #

      Four dress forms! The child’s one doesn’t count, I’d say. And if you’re sewing for clients, it probably makes sense to have multiples to fit different people. Weight gain would be my worry when it comes to custom-fit dress forms – all that expense only to have it not be the same as me. (Although, it would still be the same as my sample size so that would work..) Good to know about the junior Diana for other petites out there!

  24. Ashlee August 21, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    I have a legit vintage dressform from the late 40’s – early 50’s, that was kindly gifted to me by an elderly gentleman whose wife had been a theatrics costume designer. It’s the real deal! Secured on a heavy wrought iron stand with pump lever to adjust the height, and a skirt cage that extends down to the bottom (I’m guessing it was for working on hoop skirts and the like). Her size is pretty realistic too, given that it’s an old form: 36″ bust, 28″ waist, and 41″ hips. I need to lose a couple (+10!) lbs for us to be a perfect match measurement wise, but I’m workin’ on it! :)

    She was a little rusty and dusty when I first got her, so I painted all of the metal components an eggshell black. I’ve been pondering for years how to make a slip cover for her – since she’s getting up there in age, the linen bodice is quite dingy and looks pretty dirty. I realize that’s part of the charm, but it doesn’t necessarily photograph well… all in all, I’m happy with her! The majority is pin-able too, which is always helpful.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      That sounds like an awesome dress form! Now you’ve got me thinking I should search out vintage dress forms as it sounds like they have a curvier figure. They’re a lot closer to my size chart proportions, that’s for sure! What a generous gift! Do you have a picture of it posted anywhere?

  25. Knitsewmuchteemelkids August 21, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    I have a Dritz Dress Form from my slimmer days. Now I have a combination duct tape/Dritz dress form. I placed the duct tape form over the Dritz form and filled in the extra “curves” with fiberfill.

  26. Lucy August 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    My fella and I spent a Saturday making me a MacGyver dress form (all right, so it’s just a duct tape one, but it’s much more fun to call it a MacGyver one!). It’s okay; she’s not that useful for actually fitting clothes because I think the bust has got squished, and the lamp stand I found in my parents’ garage that she sits on isn’t that stable, but I’m using her for my wedding dress muslin with my intended strapless bra to figure out where to put boning, how much to flare out the skirt for the petticoat, etc. I don’t think anything really compares to trying things on your own body, but it’s all right as a starting point. I can get away with the MacGyver because my body doesn’t generally change much – apart from losing quite a bit of weight after I cut back on the takeaways and drinking of my early 20s! – but I may consider a proper one someday, especially if I have kids and things do change.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

      I agree with this – “I don’t think anything really compares to trying things on your own body, but it’s all right as a starting point.” That’s about how I work with my dress form too – to be able to stand back and look at something from farther away, to see whether red or blue trim is better, to see if the silhouette is what I intended. For detailed fitting (at least with my current dress form) a real body is best.
      Good luck with the wedding dress!

  27. Alli August 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Mine’s one like yours, an adjustable one but it’s red. The brand is sew perfect and it was on sale at Hancock Fabrics. Originally a couple hundred but on sale and with my new employee discount I had at the time I got it for like 75 bucks!! Her name is Miss Thang and we love eachother dearly hahah!

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      Miss Thang – love it! What a good deal you got on her!

  28. Rachel August 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    I have the new Diana model that you can do pants on – I would highly recommend her since the added bonus of tailoring pants on a dress form is wonderful! Mine was a gift as well and I did minimal research. I just knew I wanted a dress form! I am surprised at how much I use her and I always have something on her to tailor or assess fit (esp. knitted garments). If I were to upgrade or change anything about her, I would change her colour to a neutral cream or soft camel – you’re right that the purple is difficult to photograph nicely – I always put a shirt on her first! That said, I would buy her again in a heart beat.

    • Tasia August 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      A Diana with legs for pants? Brilliant! You know, I just thought of this now, when they invented dress forms probably very few women wore pants regularly, so a dress shape made more sense. Now it makes sense to have legs just as much as it does a skirt-shaped bottom!

  29. Jane August 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    My friend helped me make a duct tape dummy http://janessewandtell.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/hello-dolly/ Providing you have a very good friend who is prepared to help you I can recommend it as a cheap and fun alternative. It also gives a more accurate fit than a bought dummy as it’s made to your own shape and size.

    I just need to learn how to make clothes that fit it now!

  30. Sewbusylizzy August 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    Ive got an adjustable dress form but when I try to set the bust to my size the waist pops out. Very annoying. It’s good for draping and that’s about it.
    I’m going to buy a display dress form from a shop fitter, as I put a Cambie on a display form at work and it was a perfect fit. It’s only $100, covered in a calico coloured material, had a nice wood top & stand for an extra few dollars. And she is totally pinnable!

  31. Latrice August 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    I have one dress form and it’s a size 10 (I am far from a 10). I spotted it while riding around and dragged all my friends into the store so I could find out what the price was. $25 SOLD!
    It’s a mainly been used to hang stuff sewing protects on. It needs a little TLC.

    I do want to buy another dress form but there are some big questions I need to answer before doing that. Do I want it to be adjustable? What happens when I lose/gain weight? Do I want the dressform to have legs? And most importantly do I want to go by my high bust size or my full bust? One might think full, but that might throw off the fit in my shoulders.

  32. Jenn August 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    I bought a secondhand Singer from a garage sale. “Sylvia” is in pretty ordinary condition, probably because new she wasn’t up to much anyway! She is a garish cherry colour which I have covered with an old white skivvy ( I pulled the sleeves inside and sewed them closed), she looks okay but has her limitations.

  33. kaitui_kiwi August 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    I have a Singer 150 which is an adjustable dress form. It’s my first one ever and I didn’t know how much I would use it so I went for a reasonable priced one to start with. Well I use her heaps now!

    I love that I can adjust the bust, waist and hip measurement independently plus I can lengthen the torso (which I so need!). It is height adjustable too and also has a hemming attachment. She is light weight, I can easily take her off the stand and move her around. I do wish she was a bit more padded for pinning but I can deal with that, and that he bust was a bit more realistic, but I just put a bra on her and pad it out if I need to.

    She is also bright red, that’s why I called her Scarlett :) But I think one day I will make her a stretchy tube-like cover in a neutral colour for photographs. I have heard some people complain about the Singer for being a bit flimsy but for the price you can’t complain and while I always thought I’d upgrade eventually I don’t think I’ll need to for a while yet. I love also just draping fabric over her to inspiration. (they also make a form in the next size range up,I think it is the 151)

  34. julie s August 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    I don’t have a dress form but I do remember Gertie posting about padding and re-covering her dressform with the help of a sewing teacher a couple of years a go. Here’s the post:


  35. Bella August 21, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    Great post, Tasia; so interesting. I have a Smurfette (on sale @ Hancock’s) but I’m not sure she’s my size; she’s either too big or too small (mostly too small), but I think a lot of that is my poor body image. I call her Helen because that was my grandma’s name & I wanted a good friend in my sewing room.

  36. Corinne August 21, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    The Fabulous Fit Fitting can be purchased separately. These are the same pads that come with the expensive dress form, you can use them on any dress form. The best part is that you can adjust your dress form to perfect fit for changing weight or fitting another person.

  37. silvia August 21, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    Oh I so want a dress form but the one I’d want is a Wolf Dress Form that I learned on at FIT. They are so heavy and not really portable with that cast iron stand, but pinnable with collapsible shoulders. Their website has them at $825 for a standard size (argh!) but they do state they’ll make custom forms to order (for a few extra $$). Not feasible at present for me, but maybe you can write that off as a business expense ;-)

    Until then Diana seems to be working for you based your lovely patterns. Thanks for the post on forms!

  38. Adele August 22, 2012 at 4:10 am #

    I have a dress form my mother in law gave me. I’m not sure what kind she is, she is basically a coated wire frame that domes up the back and front so you can actually put it on your body, do it up like a very rigid all -over corset/vest and have some friendly person (mum or husband) squeeze it to your shape while you stand there in your smalls! it is not the most comfortable but once its done she can be undomed and taken off, put back together and hung on her adjustable post at the right height. the wire is flexible enough to bend bits in here and there if you need to adjust later. She came with a blue ribbing cover that you can pin but I don’t wear blue and so everything I put on her clashed with it, so now she wears an old lemon knit jumper that fits snugly and i can pin. I do have trouble getting the bust right – its hard to mould to that shape because they squish! a bra is a good solution.

  39. Sweety Darlin August 22, 2012 at 4:35 am #

    So I have a Singer model 150 and I actually love it! It has its pros and cons, but overall it is good. I do want to get a second one though for larger girls since this one at its largest is 2 inches smaller than myself in all measurements. Hard to make yourself a dress that way.

    Of course it is also 2 inches larger than my oldest daughter at the smallest settings, but she is a 00 wisp of a thing that makes most sick. She eats like a competitive food eater, and looks like a stick. I love her anyway though LOL

  40. PepperReed August 22, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    I have 3 dress forms, all on the cheap! I originally bought an adjustable junker from JoAnnes, but it didn’t ‘fit’ well and was too flimsy for the price, so I returned it.

    The first keeper is a standard unadjustable bodice form with a cast iron base my sister scavenged as a gift for me (she lives by FIT and someone just tossed it out). I padded her out with a bra and as she’s Much smaller than me, I use her to display vintage clothing. I need to make her a nice cover as someone painted her upper half black (???), so I can use her to photograph smaller vintage that I want to sell.

    I also have 2 Uniquely You forms. I intended to purchase a new one after returning the JoAnnes form, but found a vintage UY on Craigslist for $50! and snagged it (yep, it’s got the orange shoulders, but she’s nice and solid). It is smaller than I am, so I bought another cover to fit and pad out between the sizes. Then, a good sewing friend gave me her almost brand new UY form that is quite close to my size, so I use that for fitting (as is) with the intention of getting my cover fitted soon. Whew! I’m blesses with a bounty of beauties!! But, I still need to name them.

  41. Jo August 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    I have a dress form I made myself. It’s not duct tape- It’s paper tape! Paper tape is better because it doesn’t sag and stretch, and it doesn’t cover your pins in gunk. I’m so totally happy with it!
    I made a tutorial for it on my blog. It’s really helped me grow my confidence with fitting. Still a long way to go though! :)
    Here is my tutorial:

    • Louisa August 27, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      That’s what I did! Almost exactly the way your tutorial says too except that I added fiberfill stuffing to the neck and armholes so they act as pincushions. I also covered the form with a cloth cover to protect the hard paper shell and to give me something to pin into. She is a little lumpy-bumpy but is so much closer to my true shape than any commercial dressform could ever be – even including my lower right shoulder. Her name is Debbie Double and my dressmaking skills have grown so much since I’ve had her in my studio!

    • Patricia November 25, 2012 at 4:19 am #

      Hi Jo, I saw a tutorial with the paper tape dress form yesterday. (I had one made of duct tape and yes the pins come out sticky and gunky). One quick question, can you pin on the paper tape dress form?

  42. AïdéeDoazan August 22, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I have one haute couture dress form that I bought in Paris when I was working with Lanvin.
    That’s what we had in the workshop. The brand is called Cleo and it is as good as the other well-know couture brand, Stockman.
    But it’s blue so not good for shooting pictures. As you can pin straight on the dress form, it’s the best for draping and tailoring.
    And yeah, very very narrow hip!
    Sometimes I think they really don’t like the female form in couture…

    Now that I have moved in Vancouver I really need a new dress form (it was too expensive to travel mine). I think I will go with the diana dress form.

    So thanks so much for the review!!! :)

    I hope craiglist has some good deal waiting for me!

  43. neroli August 23, 2012 at 12:53 am #

    My sister has a Fabulous Fit form and I have an industry standard form (collapsible shoulders etc) which I have made into a “mini-me’ with the Fabulous Fit fitting systemn of padding and covers. (When I visited Fabulous Fit premises in Brooklyn 2 weeks before Xmas they didn’t have any more forms in my size and I wanted to carry my form home to New Zealand to save on shipping). There is no discernible difference between the two forms and we both LOVE the Fabulous Fit system, as it allowed us to adapt our forms for saddle bag thighs, sway backs, forward shoulders, rolly bits in the tummy…. The two forms are pinnable, the cover is a benign beige-creamy colour, but best of all they are pretty realistic models of our less-than-perfect shapes. I would certainly recommend adapting any form using the Fabulous Fit Fitting System. By the way, the Fabulous Fit website http://www.fabulousfit.com/ appears to have a sale on and the fitting system is available for $87 at the moment.

  44. Linda August 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    There are instructions in a pattern making book for making your own dress form using artist matboard. It is How to Make Sewing Patterns by David H. McCunn. I haven’t done it yet, but is didn’t look too hard. I seemed to have misplaced my copy or I would describe it a little.

  45. Lora August 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I’m just getting back into sewing after a long stretch. Tools of the trade have changed with new technologies so much that it is like starting over as a beginner in a lot of ways. Since I have had periods where I don’t sew that have lasted years, I have been toying with the idea of a duct tape dress form. Then if I do stick with it for a reasonable length of time, I can invest in a real dress form. I’ve watched several different people make the form on YouTube. It looks quite practical and usable–though it isn’t as pretty as a Diana dress form.

    I find the different sewing blogs very inspirational and informative. I really love the cambie dress. With your passion and talent, its great you hve the drive to start a business as well!

    Enjoy the lower 48. Yes, vacations are a very important part of avoiding burn out. You certainly don’t want to learn to hate something you love because you didn’t refresh yourself and get away.

    I’ll watch your site for more lovely creations with anticipation.


  46. Sewing Princess August 28, 2012 at 2:17 am #

    Tasia, have you thought about making a black or white cover for your Diana…than she would be more glamorous for your patterns

  47. juliebrowning18 August 31, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    I’ll jump in here. Just found your blog through another sewist whose blog I have regularly started reading. I bought a Uniquely You dress form a little over a year ago so I could make my own wedding gown. I love it, except for the foam breasts are enormous and the foam in between them is starting to tear a little bit. Also, the above the bust measurement is about 4 inches larger than myself, and despite my repeated attempts to refit the overdress, I just cannot make this measurement much smaller. I purchased mine through the Atlanta Thread Company, for about $120, far below retail and well worth it. I love your patterns by the way!!!

  48. Pippi September 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    Hello Ladies!

    I am an Aussie plus size girl (woo!) and I am starting to look at making my own clothes. I carry most of my weight in my mid section, have D cups and no bum! So I find it extremely hard to find clothes that fit off the rack. My husband bought me a Janome sewing machine and overlocker (serger) last year and now trying to learn dressmaking techniques. I came across this post and thought hmm…. it would be really handy if I had a plus size dressmaker form.

    After a long search I have found a store in Victoria, Australia that stock plus size professional dress forms that do not seem overpriced. Let me know what you think… http://www.munchkinmannequins.com.au/dressmaker_mannequin.html

    I wonder if I can use the add on padding that some of you have mentioned on this form?

  49. auzzi September 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    This discussion has been really informative and useful. I have been thinking about purchasing a Diana dress form for a while now, but I want to make sure I understand its capabilities before buying. My main fitting issue is that I have size 6 shoulders and DD cup-size bust. Am I to understand that there is no way of adjusting the shoulders and the bust independently? (i.e. if I adjust the bust to my measurements, do the shoulders automatically widen?)

  50. Sewnotwork October 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I made my own dress form out of polyurethane foam using a plaster mold. Info on my blog. http://sewnotwork.wordpress.com/

    I’m absolutely thrilled. Not for the faint or heart but being petite I was having trouble finding a good form for me.

    • Tasia October 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

      Wow! That looks amazing. In the first picture I couldn’t tell at all that it was custom-made by you and not a purchased form. Well done!

      • Sewnotwork October 15, 2012 at 9:58 am #

        Thanks for taking a look! I hope it helps other people looking to make their own.

  51. Rose October 16, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    Hello, thank you for this blog/website I found it the other day while looking up all the great things you can use a dress form for.
    I’ve been asked to make two dresses for a friend for her shop as samples and I borrowed (brand new in the box) a dress form off her as I’d always wanted one but never in my price range.
    I love it so much she asked me if I’d like to keep her, as payment for helping her make the samples for her shop, I snapped her hand off so now she is my very own dress form which I’ve called Libby, I’m going use one of the patterns so she will be my size, well as close as possible,.
    she has the dials etc and the hem marker, pin cushion, on a stand and is just brilliant. Has to be the best freebee I’ve ever had.
    I’m now going to look at the rest of your website/blog and check up on all future updates, I’ll be a regular viewer.

  52. Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    I used to have a dress form (don’t remember the brand) but it got lost somewhere along the line in various moves. Re your Diana – the color of which, by the way, looks like a lovely cranberry on my monitor – did you ever think of making a stockinette cover for her? That way you could cover the color that could be distracting in a photo shoot. I have laughed tears over the duct tape forms – you would really have to like/trust the friend who helped with that! Biggest problem is that I do not like the size I am and do not want to spend $$ on a form for that size, because most of the plus sized ones do not seem to dial down to the size I hope to be. I have seen some as reasonably as $200 but others that are over $1000. I could never go with a custom one because a few pounds here and there could make it obsolete. Is Diana a Canadian brand?

  53. Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    What a fabulous Comments section. Thanks for all the suggestions. I am in the US so may not be able to find all the brands mentioned. As I was reading down through the comments I thought of another method about which I once read. Now let’s see if I can describe it so it makes sense. You put on a tee shirt as with the duct tape method but there was this expandable cage type thing that you put on over it. Think of it like giant chickenwire on the diagonal. Every so often there were clips where you clipped the wire into place so that it was exactly your size. When done, you were to cover it and use over a stand of some sort. Does anyone else recall that? It must have been an old issue of Threads, or maybe Sew News from a zillion years ago.

  54. Nancy Schaub October 31, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    I did a search for that wire dress form fitting system and found it on ebay. It was called My Double and looks like a great idea, especially for someone whose size is not standard, or changes.


  55. Hi November 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

    I bought a dress form from Fabulous Fit Dress Forms. I went over to their factory after reading all the wonderful product reviews on amazon, prior to purchasing my dress form. The Fabulous Fit Dress Form I received is undoubtedly the best dress form for posture I did find on the market. They just had a sale for their top dress forms with 50% off on a full body style, which is what paid for. Also, one of the girls working there gave me a totally free of charge copy of their fitting book Fit Made Easy. I just didn’t have any time to read it yet, but the cover is promising. The only down side in my journey to New York was that it was quite short. Besides that, I am happy. I really love it. Really good blogs anyway!

  56. Heartofstone November 17, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    Thanks you so much for this post, it has been really helpful!
    I have been wanting a dress form for a long time and even though I would love to have a customized form, I am in the process of losing weight so would prefer an adjustable form. I am also planning on making clothes for other people, so this is another reason why adjustable is best for me.
    I am looking at getting a Singer but have also found a Fabricland model, both are adjustable and around the same price range (under $200 on sale). Has anyone used the one from Fabricland? I believe it’s called True Form. Any advice would be great!!

  57. Karen December 12, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I have a Singer 150 and a made for me dress form by a local fabric store. I use the Singer for draping sometimes but I found the shoulder to bust tip ratio is just too short. I also have a slightly rounded shoulder. Any suggestions for resolving these issues so I can use both dress forms? Thanks

  58. Barbara Deckert January 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Anyone can make a very inexpensive paper tape dress form that exactly reproduces your dimensions and posture! To learn how, take my class “Plus Size Pattern Fitting and Design” from http://www.craftsy.com . http://www.craftsy.com/ext/plussizepfd_fp .

  59. Carol January 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    No mention of Dritz dress forms here. They are highly rated, so has anyone tried them? It looks like they have a lot of dials.

  60. Bonnie Hummel February 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    What do you suggest for a child’s form?? I need to make a flower girl dress for a 2 year old.

  61. Bonnie Hummel February 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    What do you suggest for a form for a child??? I need tommake a flower girl dress for a 2 year old. THANKS MUCH!!!!!!

    • Tasia February 4, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Bonnie! I don’t have any experience with children’s dress forms, I’ve only sewn for adults. If you only are making one dress, and it’s more of a one-time thing, then I would do your fitting on the little girl herself and by using measurements. I wouldn’t suggest buying a form for one project, unless you plan on sewing a lot for children. (I am not even sure that dress forms come in two-year old size – that seems more like baby/toddler size rather than little girl..) Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!

      • Tess May 14, 2013 at 11:43 am #

        The best choice for kids dress form is Fabulous Fit dress forms. I own the regular version as well, a full body to be precise and a kids form. I use the kids dress form for my daughter. They sell all sizes. You might want to call them if you haven’t purchased it yet. The quality is wonderful, and they have been very helpful.

  62. Ben September 18, 2013 at 6:11 am #

    nice post!

    If it will help anyone, we happen to sell a lot of high quality professional dress forms (here: http://theshopcompany.com/dress-forms/professional.html) at pretty low prices. We also offer the largest and most configurable selection of standard dress forms (here: http://theshopcompany.com/dress-forms/female-floor-standing.html).

  63. Tina October 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm #

    Hello I was looking for some helpful info on dress forms. I’ve always wanted one and I really like the red ones Hancock sells…but I found an individual selling one tonight. It’s a light/med blue Sew Perfect form. He says its a Medium/Large form, but looks more like a Large. It also to me looks like its made for a male. In saying that, do they make forms for males and females? I’m not thinking they do, but thought I’d ask because the form looks like a male build, but maybe that’s the way they have it adjusted. I can only find a Medium form on the Hancock web site.

    My dd wears an adult Small and I wear a large. I would be making clothes mostly for her. Her last measurements were bust 33, waist 32 and hip 39 and that was last year. Maybe my best bet is to look at the medium dress form size on Hancock and see if that will even apply to my dd measurements and if not, then maybe she is a small. I’d hate to pass on a 6 month old form for $50.00!

    Thanks for any info you can provide. In the mean time, I’m going to read more up on your blog. Thank you!

  64. Grace October 6, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    Wow! Lots of options out there. I just bought a royal dress form on craigslist for $140. I bought it from the son of a seamstress and is in excellent shape. I had been casually looking for a wolf, but they are so expensive – even 2nd hand. There was one posted this week in Oakland for $150 and I couldn’t believe it. I contacted the poster, but they must have sold it as I never heard back. It was in perfect shape too from the pictures. Someone got a screaming deal. But the royal is fantastic and I can’t wait to start using it. Thanks for the great write up and information!

  65. Becky April 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    I’m shopping for a dress form and found this post. Very informative information in the blog as well as the comments on it. Thank you!
    I’m not sure this will help anyone, but I found a post about using medical ribbing to cover plastic display mannequins for a museum fashion display. This might be an option for some who may not like their dress form color perhaps. It also shows how they padded the thing out a little bit.


    Just an FYI I’m still trying to figure out what kind of medical ribbing they used since it doesn’t specify in the post!

  66. Zoe May 15, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    I’m looking for a dress form for my mother. Her birthday is coming up and she hasn’t had a dress form in years, but wants a new one. What brands would you recommend?

  67. Heather L May 24, 2014 at 6:48 am #

    I just found a Diana dress form on our local kijiji, but it appears that the bust measurement may be an inch bigger (on the smallest setting) than my own bust measurement. The other measurements all seem ok…do you think that might still work? Appreciate your thoughts! (The asking is 100…I think if I could get it down to 75-80$ I might go for it!)

    • Tasia May 24, 2014 at 9:20 am #

      Hi Heather! That totally depends on what you want to use it for. If you want to use it for fitting it doesn’t make sense to have a dress form that is not your size. However if you’re mostly using it for holding half-sewn garments, getting an idea of what the garment will look like from afar, or ‘close enough’ fitting, or even photographing garments, then maybe it might suit your needs.
      Hope this helps! Only you know what you’ll be doing with it, and if it will work for your purposes.

  68. DYAN " DYNEAU" BARRETT August 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    I have a question. Im very poor, list weight, I design a few things for myself. I have an ajustable dress form but I need a pants fir. Heres the question, have you evsr heard if a way to make a oants form, useing a tight pair of pants that fit, stuffibg them somehow and making a pants form?

    • Sewer December 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      I don’t know the answer. My understanding is that very occasionally tailors make forms from paper (although it’s much more common to draft from the client’s measurements and fit on the client). It couldn’t hurt to ask on a tailoring forum such as Cutter and Tailor.

  69. juliet December 16, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    If anyone wants to do a work of mercy, the best is to show me where to buy a DVD tutorial for making my childrens clothing myself.
    I am tired of adding stuffs up and down. When and dress is sewn, no one gives you the piece to go home with and shops does not have a match.
    Every month, my children add hight and wight and they are still young. How long would i keep suffering because people have short legs waists and very tiny laps. We are curvy people. My 4yrs boy was wearing a 9yrs old boy’s shirt. Not tell
    I use to buy dresses for myself before when were it and come on the road, people look at me as a mad person.
    So i prefer making dresses for myself and for my children until i am no more of help to them by this i don’t need anti fashion we can try in addition, peopdon’t like to see us in the shop because the know that the clothing does not fit.

  70. Sewer December 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    This summer I found a 2010 Wolf form through Craigslist. It apparently was used in a showroom and it looks brand new. It cost $300.

  71. Jen February 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Hi everyone!
    I have only just started, about 6 months ago and fell in love with sewing straight away. I was so scared and proud when I made my first dress. But decided I needed a dressform. I have ordered a Janome Artiste small after some research. And from a financial point of view, I think it is great bang for buck at $147aus dollar.

    Apparently, Janome Artistic Dress forms are easy to use with professional fitting results. As i am new, an inexpensive and easy to use was appealing to me. I wanted to make more dresses as I am short and although broad, am athletic and so clothes for work never fit well. I first looked at second hand ones to just see how I would go, but then saw the Janome under $150.

    Janome dress forms are designed to fit gowns, dresses, suits, tops, skirts and more! With 12 adjustment dial wheels, adjustable back waist width and longer pole, a Janome Artistic dress form seemed ideal. The second hand ones I saw did not have a stand and I figured I would kick myself without one!

    Sizes available- I bought small

    Petite size: 28″-34″(bust), 22″-29″(waist), 30″-38″(hips), 12-15″(neck).
    Small size: 33″-41″(bust), 25″-33″(waist), 36″-44″‘(hips), 15″ +(neck).
    Medium size: 39″-47″(bust), 31″-39″(waist), 41″-49″(hips), 14-16″(neck).
    Large size: 45″-53″(bust), 38″-46″(waist), 47″-55″(hips), 15.5-17″(neck).


    Shaped hips, bottom and thighs for fitting pants
    Longer pole to accommodate taller women, wedding dresses and evening gowns
    Extended shoulder for supporting and setting in sleeves.
    12 rotating dial wheels at bust, waist and hips Adjustments can be made in precise increments.
    Adjustable back waist width
    Adjustable neck with pincushion.
    Pin hem marker.
    Foam-backed nylon cover for easy pinning and marking

    Enjoy! And happy sewing!!!!!!

  72. an May 16, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    i am considering to purchase a dress form,
    petite, but that could be adjusted ..SIZE 16 – 18 – 20 – 24 – 28

    although i have never used it before, i am going to try
    do you have any advice?


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