On Dress Forms

A couple of posts about dress form popped up in my feed last week (Cloth Habit here, and Clothing Engineer here), which got me thinking about my own.

I do actually have a dress form, which may come as a surprise to some because it rarely, if ever, appears on this blog.  That’s because I hardly ever use it.  And that’s because it’s the wrong size.

You might think that the sizing issue should have been apparent when I ordered it, but in my defense, it really wasn’t.  I ordered a professional body form from The Shop Company many moons ago when reviews and discount codes for them were all over the sewing blogosphere.  It’s a very nice quality dress form (very nice, particularly considering the cost), and my measurements put me exactly in a size 10.

So I got it, and the service was great, the price was reasonable, shipping cost was low, and the quality is fantastic.  And it looks really cool in my sewing room.  But … it is too big for every single garment that I try to put on it.  Every. single. one.

My Anna dress fit me like a glove, but it barely makes it over my dress form and there’s no way that zipper was budging.  I made my first Watson bra last week (to be blogged eventually!).  I couldn’t fit it as I went, so after I was done, I put it on my dress form to snap a photo for Instagram before I tried it on my body.  I was really worried for a second because the band wasn’t even touching, much less fastening, in the back (several inches separated the band).  But, I put it on me and it fit perfectly.

Creative Counselor: On Dress Forms
I managed to get the bra on the form for display purposes, but it’s nowhere close to fastening in back. Fits me great, though!

After that experience, and seeing some of these posts, I got curious.  Why is my dress form, which has almost exactly the same measurements as I do, such a poor fit for me?  I got out my measuring tape and put on my detective hat.

And it turns out … I am not shaped like a dress form — shocker!  While my main measurements — bust, waist and hip — match my form almost exactly, my underbust measurement is a full 4 inches smaller than my form.  Which is why my Watson bra didn’t fit it and nothing will zip.  My above bust measurement is more than 3 inches smaller than my form.  So basically, my dress form is about a 36A (maybe B if you’re being generous), and I am a 32C-D.

So after all that, I’m a little uncertain of what to do with my form.  It’s a very nice form and looks cool in my sewing room.  I could keep it for blog photo purposes, so long as I don’t need to show the closures.  I could try to sell it and recoup some of my money since there must be someone out there who could actually use a size 10 form.

And then do I buy another one?  I’m a little hesitant.  It’s pretty clear that the main measurements I need are the underbust and above bust measurements, which aren’t typically included.  So long as those fit, I can pad the other areas to get the measurements I need.  I suspect I need to go down at least 3 sizes to get a form that I can modify to fit correctly.

Do you have a dress form?  What would you do?

0 thoughts on “On Dress Forms

  1. I have the same problem, my form won’t go small enough under bust. In addition, Dolly’s boobs are about 2-3″ higher up than me. She obviously isn’t a 36F having had 2 kids and middle aged to boot! Having said that it’s useful to keep things in shape without creases while making things and also I can see if things like necklines lie smoothly. At the moment she’s on there while I check the armhole and neck bands on a jersey dress.

    1. Good point. My dress form probably would work fine for checking necklines. I’ve used it to even out hems too, so it’s not completely useless.

  2. I also have a dress form, but it’s one of those Dritz TwinFit ones that you can get at a chain sewing store. It works fine for display/photos and some draping, but I also have bust issues with mine. I’m interested in seeing if I can either buy or make padding to get mine to fill out in the places I need it. I’ve seen kits on Amazon, but I’ve also seen people use batting, old bras, and spare spandex to fill out forms to the correct shape. Curious to see what you wind up doing with yours!

    1. It seems so much easier to fill out a dress form that’s too small in some areas rather than try to deal with one that’s too big. The online store where I bought my form also sells a kit for padding out a professional form.

  3. This is great information to know! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m planning on buying this form by the end of the year. I’m trying to earn it via exercise 🙂

    I’m sorry that it doesn’t work for you. Such a shame. I hope you manage to put it to use. Or perhaps get the money back by selling it, maybe?

    1. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all in the quality of the form — it really is nice. Just make sure it’s going to fit your bust before buying!

      Although I can use it for some things, I’m kind of leaning towards recouping some of my money and eventually buying a smaller form that I can pad out in certain areas.

  4. I see adjustable dress forms on blogs although I do not own one myself. I imagine that this might solve the issue to some degree?

    1. An adjustable form might solve some of the issues, though I’m not sure how adjustable the cup size is. But I really love the quality of my professional form, so I might ultimately try to get a smaller professional form and then pad it out.

  5. Unless you buy a tiny one and pad it out, I think they’re basically worthless. I put my garments on mine sometimes, but anything fitted can’t zip or won’t go on. I have found it useful for leveling hems, but overall it will never be a body double. That said, I still wouldn’t part with mine for the rare occasion it does come in handy!

    1. Yeah, I’ve also used mine for leveling hems since I was able to adjust the height to match my (relatively short) stature. I don’t know that I’ll ever want to drape something, but it would be nice to be able to close a zipper on my form! I think I’d eventually like to get a smaller form and pad it out.

  6. I bought a “Fabulous Fit” dress form. It comes as a tiny form with anatomically correct pads to add properly shaped substance where you need it. (I used nearly all the pads except the ones to make the boobs bigger 🙂 Later, I took a moulage class and put that “garment” on my dress form to define waistline, shoulder seam, etc (useful since I’m petite and those lines were no longer accurate on my form). With some exceptions for “problem areas” (wide back), I like the resulting dress form a lot and do use it to fit garments when I don’t feel like undressing 🙂

    If you can’t use your form for it’s purpose, then sounds like you should cut your losses. Good luck!

    1. A system like the Fabulous Fit combined with a much smaller form would be perfect, I think. I’m leaning towards recouping some of my money and then saving up for a new smaller form that I can pad out. I would be nice to have the ability to fit on my form if I want to!

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