You might have noticed on my Instagram that I love my dressmaker’s dress form (it’s almost in every photo there - I just can’t help myself, it’s so pretty!). Getting an adjustable dress form was a great decision for me and now that I have used it for 1.5 year I can share what I like and dislike about it.
First, let's start with a few upclose photos:
Front and back of the form.
Dress form from side, wheels set on maximum, torso lengthened at maximum.
Upclose view of hemline marking tool (right photo) and rotating wheel (left photo).
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT MY ADJUSTABLE DRESS FORM?
a) Recreates my figure perfectly. Adjustable dress form is more expensive than non-adjustable ready-made form, however, this function is worth every penny to me. To give you an example, top part of my body is two sizes smaller than my bottom part (hello, pear figure!) - so neither size 34 or size 38 ready-made form would fit me well. Plus, adjustable form has a regulated torso length, which is a huuuge plus for me and I can recreate my figure to full detail.
b) Allows me to fit my back. My back fitting became so much easier - it's my most problematic spot to fit (as for many pear-shaped figures), but now I can perfectly fit it on the mannequin, instead of trying to see my own back through the mirror. I would even go as far as saying my fitting became better in general, because now I can solve many fitting issues directly on the form, without having to dress up everytime I need to check something.
c) Cheaper than custom made form. I am very cautious when it comes to spending on sewing supplies, so to me an adjustable dress form was a cheaper, yet more unctional choice over fancier custom made mannequin.
d) Can use when I sew for others. Whenever I sew something for others, I simply adjust wheels to fit their shape and save lots of time needed for extra fitting (but there is a catch - read further in “Not for everybody” section).
e) Good home decoration. Might not be as important as points above, but… I just love how nice this dress form looks at my home! Plus, whenever I sew a new item, I leave it on the form for a day or two, so I can just admire it (well, I like my creations and I cannot lie!).
WHAT I DISLIKE ABOUT MY ADJUSTABLE DRESS FORM?
a) Not as sturdy as non-adjustable form. Adjustability comes with the price and in this case the price is sturdiness - I have used non-adjustable forms in my life and they were far more heavy duty. Also, adjusting wheels are not that well behaved overtime and might stuck once in a while, requiring extra push to move it.
b) Not for everybody. As much as adjustable form sounds like “fit for all”, but it’s not. Those forms usually can be adjusted with 2-3 size range, which can put a limit to its use. To use my own example: my bust measurement is on minimum setting, while hips are on the widest, meaning any bigger difference would not be achievable on this form. Not to mention different cup sizes, torso lengths and etc. Check carefully all measurements before getting one!
c) Takes up a lot of space. Yup, this beautiful form takes a lot of space, so keep in mind it’s not that easy to hide when you not use it!
MY PERSONAL VERDICT: YES OR NO?
I love my form and get great value out of it. I do feel that my fitting skills have improved while using it and it’s visible in quality of my clothing, too. For me, it was really in investment that paid off!
NOW LET’S ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS!
These are questions I got about my dress form on my Instagram - if you have a question as well, don’t hesitate to give me message there!
How to know which one to buy? Which model/brand should I buy to use to make my own clothes?
When choosing a form, make sure (a) it has 8 parts and/or 12 adjusting wheels; (b) your measurements fall between minimum and maximum settings on bust, waist and hips. These are two most important points to pay attention to and everything else, like price point, brand and design, depends on how much you would like to spend and your taste.
Also, if you will keep your form in a living room, you might want to consider other design options, such as these polka dot or floral cuties, or even this elegant beige colored one (looks so classy, doesn't it?):
I use an adjustable dress form for fitting client outfits, but still have challenges with some kind of figures, especially short people. Though it’s fine on the mannequin, but when they wear it, it still has fitting issues, like excesses at the back and shoulders and immobility of the arms because of the sleeves.
I had a chance to observe quite a few professional seamstresses up-close in my life and what I noticed is that none of them use forms for fitting - instead, they only fit garments on the client or while drafting patterns, and use forms mostly for steaming or ironing purposes. Adjustable dress forms are not an ideal solution for every shape, unfortunately, so I would advise to rely more on actual customer fitting. Have a customer come in for one or two fittings, ask them to lift arms, sit down or even squat, to test the fit - nothing beats on-body fitting and it’s what custom sewing is all about!
How can you adjust if you are longer in areas than the form allows?
Most forms allow significant lengthening in the torso (a feature that I use all the time), but not much else (like lower hip point, higher bust point or etc.), so you would still need to do some on-body fitting, in case the measurements are significantly different than those of the form.
Hope this answers your questions on adjustable dress forms - I definitely love mine and I get so much use out of it! This is definitely an investment, but it can be great solution for you!