The Sewing Place

Tools of the Trade => Dress Forms => Topic started by: Lolli on March 12, 2018, 10:11:47 AM

Title: Any Tips?
Post by: Lolli on March 12, 2018, 10:11:47 AM
I'd like to get a dress form but don't know what I'm looking for. I think it would make life easier for adding embellishments to dance costumes/tutus but I may not be making just the one size costume all the time. Are adjustable ones only necessary when making different sizes of non stretch outfits? I will be making non stretch items too.
I know nothing about these things 😕
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Francesca on March 12, 2018, 10:18:18 AM
I'd say adjustable is not really worth it unless you intend to do lots of fitting and even then, I found mine rather pointless as I can adjust the waist, hip, and bust but not the bust shape or shoulder slope or bum shape and so it was never close to my shape anyway.

However I can see the value of having something to stand the garment on so you can get a better view of it, or as you say add embellishments.

In your case you can probably save a bit of money too by going for something older and more solid.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Acorn on March 12, 2018, 12:38:29 PM
I've been thinking about looking for one of these myself.  I don't want one for fitting, not least because I really don't want an effigy of myself sitting there and depressing me!

I want it for checking that things like necklines and pockets are even and straight etc, and for generally getting a good look at a garment without it hanging from a hanger looking like a sack.

As it will be taking up space in my sewing room/study I want it to be pretty!

Amazon have quite a lot - I'm ploughing through them gradually.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: sewingj on March 12, 2018, 13:13:20 PM
I have an Adjustoform which I bought to help with fitting - but you have  to be prepared to spend time adding extra padding to various parts to get it close to your own shape.  Even then, as Fran says, it is hard to duplicate the finer details.  If you were making garments for different people you couldn`t easily adjust it from one shape to another.

It isn`t perfect but I do find it useful and if would definitely be helpful if you were adding embelishments

Acorn - yes it is very depressing seeing an effigy of yourself - mine has to be kept fully dressed when I am not using her!
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: SkoutSews on March 12, 2018, 13:26:13 PM
I have one of these ( which is very useful for necklines, marking button spacing and that sort of thing. I didn't want to pay the price of a 'proper' dressform and (honesty here!) just couldn't be bothered to spend time padding, cutting and fiddling on with the mannequin to get it to resemble my shape. Too depressing!

I can stick pins into it if needed and it's not too much of an eyesore. It does the job for which it was intended.

[Edited because a stray extra https had got into the link.]
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Acorn on March 12, 2018, 13:42:06 PM
Thanks Skout - that's very helpful because that's just the one I've been looking at!   :)
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Marniesews on March 12, 2018, 14:36:41 PM
If you're sewing for different people and/or someone who is growing then an adjustable dressform has many benefits and for me they outweigh the negatives because I'm sewing high-stretch lycra.

Like me, you're fortunate that the fabric we're sewing most of the time doesn't require the same careful fitting to shape that wovens do. I use my Adjustoform with legs most of the time because that's the right one for my DGD and other junior/adult dancers but I eventually bought an adjustable children's size too. The two combined work extremely well.

If we were sewing more woven clothes the benefits are still there, but they do diminish.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lolli on March 12, 2018, 20:42:33 PM
That's very interesting, thanks all.

My knowledge on this matter is so inadequate I'm not sure if those pretty ones in The Range are actual body forms or just mannequins for decoration 😂 I want to buy one everytime I go in!

If I bought a non adjustable one for now (seen as I'm a beginner) and to start with, will only be making for my DD, will it be wise to just go for something similar to her size?

Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lollipop on March 12, 2018, 21:16:50 PM
Those decorative ones in the Range are not really true to size in my experience. I have a couple of adjustable ones and one childs non adjustable and use them all the time. You intend making just for your daughter now but, trust me, when the dance school realise that you make costumes you will be in demand.
For embellishing I use a plywood bodyboard now but I used to use a plastic chopping board from Ikea with a Teflon cooking sheet over it to stop the glue sticking. Well stuffed cushions can be used too.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lolli on March 12, 2018, 22:50:25 PM
Ah yes, the plywood bodyboard is mentioned in the stretch tutu pattern. I'll have a look at those too.

I'm presuming the amount of adjustment in the body forms is 2-3 sizes per body form? So for instance 8-10 or 8-12?

Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Marniesews on March 13, 2018, 00:59:31 AM
It's a much wider size range. The one I have (Sew Deluxe Leg Form) comes in 4 size ranges, which overlap - P - A - B - C. Each one covers about 20cm size range. As an example, size P goes from size 2 to size 10; A goes from size 8 to size 16. Have a look here ( for more specifics.

Lots of different models to choose from. I started with the Supafit ( in the petite size. If you do decide to go for one of these, I found that Hobkirks of Blackburn were very often the cheapest online which is near enough for you to pop over for an inspection.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lolli on March 13, 2018, 08:04:09 AM
I know Hobkirks, their engineers fix our sewing machine's at work, I'll have a look 👍

Thanks all for the tips everyone 😊
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lollipop on March 13, 2018, 22:46:28 PM
I got a great deal on my Pfaff sewing machine from Hobkirks. It was delivered the very next day too!! Great service.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Marniesews on March 13, 2018, 22:59:49 PM
I've had excellent service from them with several purchases (not just the dressforms) too, Lollipop. They've been very responsive to enquiries too.  :)
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lolli on March 21, 2018, 23:22:10 PM
So I thought I'd bite the bullet and buy a dress form from Hobkirks last night only to see on their website that the size I wanted was out of stock. I rang them today to see when they'd get it back in and they've ordered me one direct from Adjustoform at the same price. Free delivery too even though it's not coming from them, granted it'll take longer to arrive but even so you can't beat that for service. I'm chuffed, and excited for it to arrive. I'm sure it will prove extremely useful  :D
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Efemera on March 22, 2018, 08:29:10 AM
I’ve just bought my Babylock coverstitch from then last week...they were really good to deal with.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Lachica on March 22, 2018, 13:05:34 PM
I have one of the polystyrene ones like @SkoutSews because a) I'm tight and b) I only make for myself. I've added tummy padding to her & she wears one of my old bras. Yes, it's a bit depressing looking at her but it so far hasn't shamed me into a diet. She has a nylon stockingy skin, which I peeled off to add bandages around her middle, then her skin went back on. Very useful for checking fit (not on trousers sadly) and being polystyrene pins go into her without tears.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Acorn on March 22, 2018, 13:35:56 PM
I have just taken delivery of one of those too, and I am very pleased with her.  She is wearing a bra (not actually an old one, we are having to share it...  :o ) and has the same sized shoulders, bust and under bust, although she then goes in rather more than I do.  As I want her more for checking shoulders, necklines, hems etc than for fitting, that works just fine.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Ravingdoll on June 13, 2018, 11:02:14 AM
Late to the party on this one but I find Ethel invaluable when I want to insert sleeves and like Acorn said to check everything is sitting right, and for pattern matching.  Size wise we are not too off kilter from each other, she wears an old stuffed bullet bra of mine and has the same narrow shoulders but I do envy her rather flatter tummy. 
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: b15erk on June 13, 2018, 11:06:34 AM
I have a dressform, but I've also just snapped up another from the charity shop.  It's a Singer 150 adjustable, no idea whether that's a good one, but for £10, it's got to be a bargain.

Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Surest1tch on June 13, 2018, 19:37:53 PM
I couldn't get on with my adjustaform at all and took it to the charity shop in the end. I have bought a polystyrene dummy and like it much better, it's not exactly perfection but it does the job.
Title: Re: Any Tips? sewing Quarter 1st July at 1300 hours
Post by: annieg on July 01, 2018, 14:08:28 PM
I just watched a show where they demonstrated how to pad/modify the adjustoform to your specific size.
Very interesting - I tried out some of the tips on changing the bust cup size and it really worked well.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Holly Berry on July 01, 2018, 17:44:56 PM
I bought one of the cheap polystyrene dummies and padded mine. Craftsy do an excellent course. Cost in total, including course £50. I use mine for fitting.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Pearl on July 01, 2018, 18:00:53 PM
What do you pad it with, @annieg , @Holly Berry

I might need one of these to go with my growing collection of dressmaking patterns, @wrenkins .   :D
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Holly Berry on July 01, 2018, 19:46:34 PM
@Pearl, I used polyester wadding. 2oz to cover the mannequin, then 8oz for padding, this of course depends on how much padding out you have to do  :o You can then tease it out to get the shape. My dummy was bought a size smaller than me ie 12/14 for 16/18 I also bought some L shaped rulers, they were carpenters ones off eBay for £15 for 2. You need to know the depth ie front to back as well as width of the body

I then made a tight fitting calico hip length bodice with princess seams. It had no ease whatsoever and a friend pinned in on me to follow mycontours bulges. So open ended zip allows you to get it on and off you and the dummy.
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: Efemera on July 01, 2018, 20:06:28 PM
I used the vintage wire one I bought and managed to squidge it to my shape.....OMG I wish I hadn’t bothered, the bloody thing looks horrendous.... which obviously means I do to. :S

I wish I’d stayed in my little world of denial!
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: annieg on July 01, 2018, 21:39:26 PM
What do you pad it with, @annieg , @Holly Berry

My adjustafirm dummy (largest size) is not far off my waist measurement but the bust cup is not big enough So I dressed her in one of my better support bras (G cup) and used old sports socks to fill out the cups.  Her bust point is at now at more or less the same level as my actual bust point (31 cm down from my inner shoulder).
I've just read someone suggesting using bandages for padding (v. Good idea).
I've got loads of old crepe bandages and I'll wrap those around the midriff to make it consistent with my actual measurements.
The hips/bottom area are another story which I will tackle on another day. 

On the programme they had a trouser dummy which I would really like to have if only to adjust RTW trousers which are always too baggy around the top of my thighs.


Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: b15erk on July 02, 2018, 13:57:42 PM
There's a lovely detailed blogpost Padding a dressform (

It's one of my favourite blogs, and has lots of detailed information for vintage owners.

Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: wrenkins on July 03, 2018, 09:32:51 AM
What do you pad it with, @annieg , @Holly Berry

I might need one of these to go with my growing collection of dressmaking patterns, @wrenkins .   :D
:o  :o  :o
Title: Re: Any Tips?
Post by: fajita on July 03, 2018, 23:36:41 PM
Surely you pad them with all the old paper patterns that no longer fit?