The Sewing Place

Adjustable mannequin


Adjustable mannequin
« on: November 03, 2021, 11:36:59 AM »
Hello everyone, Bonjour tout le monde,  :*

Christmas is approaching fast and thought I could treat myself (or hubby could :P) to an adjustable mannequin?
Have you got one of these? Are they any good? Which one would you recommend?

I have just started taken on sewing (April 2020) and still learning a LOT and I am sure a mannequin will help me?

I thank you in advance for your feedback about adjustable (or not) mannequin

 :sew: :flower: :*
« Last Edit: November 03, 2021, 17:21:05 PM by Iminei »


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2021, 13:17:48 PM »
Snap.  :)

I mentioned this to my husband the other day too when he’d asked for the umpteenth time what I might like to Christmas and I hadn’t thought of anything.

Maybe we could both post on here when we’ve found some options to consider?

Lemon Syllabub

Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2021, 18:38:24 PM »
I love my mannequin. I use her all the time to ‘wear’ whatever I’m in the middle of making. I often pin pattern pieces on her and sometimes baste seams while she’s wearing the garment.  :thumbsup:

But.. and a big but.. she isn’t my double. Her shoulders, neck and bust are the same size as mine but she doesn’t have my posture and her boobs haven’t discovered gravity!   

So although I love her and use her constantly she’s a pretty rubbish fit model!

I’ve heard of people padding out their mannequin to replicate their shape but I never make form fitting clothes so I don’t mind her faults… or should that be her perfections?  :laughing:

Just to add, I've had mine for years and I can't remember her make but she's very sturdy with a beautiful wooden base. If you're going to buy one I'd say go for stability.  :)


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2021, 07:14:30 AM »
These are my fitting issues:
Forward head.
Forward shoulder.
Round back.
DD bust.
Short torso.
Narrow shoulders.
Low right shoulder.
Tilted elbows.
Short rise.
High right hip.

Once I realized all of that (and yet I'm still somehow NOT a deadringer for Quasimoto :laughing:) I also realized no typical pre-made form will help me with my fitting issues.

If you know what your fit issues are, it may be simple to decide if you can pad out a pre-made form so that it works. If you differ from standard norms too much, as I do, you'll need to look at one of the ways that will replicate your body. We have a company here in the States that will 3D scan your body and cut a form for you from foam. Not sure if there's a similar company over there. There is also another company that sells a kit and people that will hold classes to help make certain you complete it correctly. I will probably eventually buy the kit and work it out on my own. Until then, I'll save myself the $$$ needed for a basic pre-made and continue using my phone as my #1 fitting aid.

To me, this is question #1: Are your fitting issues close enough to normal to make a pre-made dummy useful?


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2021, 11:11:01 AM »
My mannequin wears a stuffed bra to get that measurement approximate  :laughing: I put it to the underbust measurement and put on an old bra stuffed with shoulder pads until it got to the fuller version that I am
As it neared the top of the grade, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, "I—think—I—can, I—think—I—can." It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, "I thought I could,  I thought I could."


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2021, 11:31:30 AM »
I had one for years but didn’t use it apart from keeping garments on that I was in the middle of making. 
My shoulders  are narrow.  So the dummy is useless from the start.  If the shoulders are wrong so is everything else!  I have patterns that I have developed over the years and anything new I want I use them as a starting point to adapt to other styles.  I find commercial patterns a bit of a PITA as I have so many alterations to do. 


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2021, 13:32:53 PM »
I bought mine around 1992 and did use her @Arloony  Moving onto when I dived into sewing again in 2008 (other than alterations), I just used her for draping things on as she was my old measurements and I couldn't bear to adjust her.  I have now, but she takes room up so gone into the spare bedroom/junk/box room.

To be honest it's easier to drop my clothes off and try on, if I have to.  Well used patterns I just don't bother unless it's to check the skirt length.

Some people go to a lot of trouble to get their exact size but not for me, I don't want to be staring at any lumps and bumps and thinking that's me.
Stash extension 2022 - 5.00 meters
Left at the end of 2021 - 43.2 meters


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2021, 16:06:25 PM »
Looks like I need to re-think Christmas list then  :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Thank you all for your feedback

Arlene x :sew: <3 :sew: :*


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2021, 16:15:20 PM »
I have a polystyrene one which I padded out to my measurements. She's been in the loft most of this year, I just try on as I go. I have used her for a draped dress, & for fitted things in woven fabric she comes in handy but lately I've been using stretch fabrics which are more forgiving, and simple patterns. Since I don't make for others I didn't see the point of an adjustable one.
2020 stash: not gonna count, not gonna feel guilty.


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2021, 16:21:04 PM »
I've had Ermintrude for years and she's roughly padded out to my size. I did a patternmaking course and used the sloper I made to cover her and padded that out. She's not perfect but she holds my tape measures around her neck and she's ideal for putting my in progress garments on. When I made my shite shirt she was excellent at letting me see how the placement of the fabrics would work. I'd miss her if I didn't have her  ;)
So many beers, so little time. 🍻

Stash sewing 2021 19m used


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2021, 16:41:35 PM »
'Gloria' stands in the corner of my sewing room, decorously draped in a 1970's shawl. She's set up as a body double for DD as I sew a large portion of her wardrobe and she lives a 3hr+ drive away in Cambridge. For my sewn garments DH is good for taking photos so I can make the tweaks needed.
Fortunately DD , apart from being 6'2" tall,  is a standard size 10 so 'Gloria' was easy to set up.
'Jill' of many aspects of sewing, "Mistress" of few.


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2021, 17:31:59 PM »
Yes a mannequin  can be a very useful tool.  I am a rather large person, very peculiar shape, and I was wrapped in brown paper parcel tape  and glue some 16 years ago now, so have a body shape that more or less was actually ME!!!!  However I wanted to put this on over a rather old and battered dress dummy stand and initially opened her body up to sort of fill  her out as much as possible and then padded over this opened up form.  Big mistake.  The dress form needed to be closed right up as small as it would go and then layers of wadding wrapped around her and secured by a stockingette cover before I put my double over the top and that did work.  However since then I have sadly put on more weight and have had to add yet more wadding over the top of the paper parcel tape version of me, and in places have sewn the layers together to fill her out.  I make a lot of toiles, so I used the latest one and pinned the front closed and then stuffed in more wadding where necessary so it rather looks as though it is straining (not a pretty sight at all) and I did this deliberately so I can pin tissue, calico or whatever into her and create the shapes I want knowing that if I do this tightly to her body that is my ease needed on me to be able to move, and so far this is working quite well.  As she - her name is Matilda - is so well padded out she is rock solid, and the fact that I closed the original stand up nothing can fall through the gaps that would have been there if opened.  I also have a chain necklace around her neck and this is there for a jewel neckline.  I also have two separate calico arms that I have made which can be sewn into position for when I want them on her.
Of course I have doctored this to suit my needs, I have a few men's short sleeve thermal vests that have seen better days, i.e. wearing out, on her and these are sort of ribbed, so it is clear to see and create 'grain lines' and then my own idea was to stitch some lengths of net curtain string of weights to her, and these mark the CF, CB, the side seams, the shoulder princess seams, shoulder seam and I used the thickest string of weights I could find, and thus I can feel where these lines are when I am working with fabric on her and it really works for me.

So may I suggest if you have a garment that perhaps fits you exactly how you like it and is perhaps rather worn, to sacrifice this and put on your dress stand, to see just how much you are going to have to pad her out and where also use an old bra and that can be stuffed as well to suit your needs,  and then get some of the lofty wadding that the quilters use and start padding her out to fit your garment, I found that these ribbed vests were excellent for holding the wadding in place, and as I have several on top of one another I have a lovely plump body to be able to pin into.  At the moment I also have some weights dangling at the end of my string of weights, this is like a plumb line and helps hold this straight in the position I want the line to be in, and I just left them like that - nothing special, just bits and pieces that are reasonably weighty that I found around my home.

Do hope that some of this might inspire you to pad out your dress stands.  At the moment Matilda is still dressed in her calico shoulder princess seamed top and I have a huge square floaty scarf thrown over the stop of the stand and this covers everything up - looks so much nicer than seeing just the calico top.


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2021, 18:21:03 PM »

Thank you for your detailed post. You’ve explained so well exactly what I wanted to know.  :perfect10:

I was talking to a friend at sewing group yesterday and we were thinking about making one of those body doubles using an old T-shirt and gaffer tape and I did wonder if it could then be placed on a mannequin and used for pinning things on.


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2021, 18:53:30 PM »
I used to have one of those adjustable mannequins but found it pretty hopeless as I couldn’t adjust the waist length to fit me correctly without huge gaps and so gave it away.  I don’t think they are much use if you are on the taller side.  Now I have a fixed size one that I bought in a smaller size so I could pad it out and get the waist and bust points at the correct point. 

I used my sloper pattern to make a tight fitting jewel neckline “dress” with a zip that I could tweak on me and then put over the padded dress form.

 I find it really useful for visualising how fabrics drape, getting ideas for what I want to do with fabrics and for hand stitching linings and sleeves amongst other uses.  It’s great for photographing my makes too.


Re: Adjustable mannequin
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2021, 06:07:08 AM »
I bought one last year and lets say her waist is smaller than mine but hips/bust are spot on. Not a big deal since I don't wear fitted clothes.  I put an old bra on it.  Originally I had stuffed with some shoulder pads I had laying around but they weren't very smooth so I got some pushup gel bra cups instead.  I went one cup size bigger than I am because I was afraid they'd be to small otherwise but they were perfect.   Works very nicely and gives a smooth fit.

I am not sure of the brand name though. Not even sure it's available outside of the US.