Sewing Circle: How to Buy a Dress Form
This time, I got a question from Cheryl, who asked:
Q: I am a quilter but lately the sew-your-own-clothes bug has surfaced and I have begun to purchase patterns of garments I would like to make. I seriously want a dress form but am clueless as to what is out there. Googling helps only to a point; I would like to hear from a serious maker of apparel, as you enthusiastically are, so that I can purchase a quality item.
A: Well, Cheryl, good question. I don't currently have a dress form myself, but have grown up using the several that my mom has in her sewing studio and may someday acquire one (when I have more money and room to sew in!). I asked around to my favorite sewing sources, and used what I know, and here's the break-down: you can:
- Buy a new dress form online or at a store (usually $100-300). JoAnn has coupons, and Amazon, etc. often have everyday discounts.
- Buy a used dress form (don't pay more than $50 unless it's super great). I often see them at Goodwill, and if it's close to your size, it may not be a problem to add some padding here and there for shaping.
- Make your own dress form (uh... about $3?). Takes the extra work and won't be as pretty, but it'll be your exact size.
Types of dress forms:
- Adjustable rolling dial dress forms, that can be tailored to exactly your measurements (not shape, of course), but I've heard often break and end up being essentially one size. Some people have success with them, although they are difficult to pin into. They often come in different "body types" to help with fit.
- Non-adjustable, one-size dress forms that approximate your size, and can be pretty close depending on how you're built. You can buy one that's slightly smaller in some places and add on to it, if you like. See this tutorial on doing that. Usually made of foam, these are easy to pin onto.
- A duct tape or paper mache dress form that is exactly your (current) measurements and curves. Threads has an article about how to make your own dress form out of duct tape or paper mache. Sounds gross, but is actually a fun and very effective way to make a personalized form! My mom and I did this once years ago, but I have changed size many times since and we threw it out. But, hey, it only cost a few dollars and and old t-shirt! There's also a tutorial on Etsy Labs.
On this topic in particular, I would love to hear readers' thoughts--you sewists out there, do you use a dress form? Which kind is your favorite? Do you think it's worth the investment?
If you have a recommendation for Cheryl, what kind do you think she should use? Remember, she's a quilter who has picked up garment sewing and would like to try making a dress.
Thanks so much for your input, readers!!
This has been another Sewing Circle feature. If you have any sewing-related questions, please, send them my way and I'll do my best to answer before putting it out to my readers, too!