Do you have a new dress form on your wish list? Cara Pierce from The Shop Company joins us today to give you all the information you need to know about buying a dress form. The Shop Company has a wide selection of dress forms and accessories and a great selection of professional dress forms too. What’s the difference? What should you look for in a dress form? Who are James and Judy?! You’ll learn a lot from Cara today!
Dress Form Buying Guide
Whether you are just a dabbler or an expert in the sewing field, the need for a dress form has almost certainly crossed your mind. An in-house body double provides an excellent preview of what garments will appear like when worn, simulating the exact drape and contour of the clothes on the body to enable more precise measurements and alterations. Dress forms come in as many shapes and sizes as those they are designed to represent, and although the most common examples model the torso, full-body dress forms are widely used as well. Both male and female molds are available, and they are affectionately known in the industry as “James” and “Judy.” But alas, the array of options available today are quite dizzying; before beginning the hunt for the perfect studio partner, arm yourself with the basics so you know exactly what to look out for.
Types of Dress Forms
Dress forms come in two main designs: standard dress forms, which is a fixed anatomical setup best for normal display or designing garment patterns to fit standard clothing sizes, and professional dress forms, which allow for the display of a wider variety of garments and custom tailoring clothes to fit a specific person. Professional displays are prized in the world of design for their versatility and durability, while standard dress forms are a less expensive option for those who do not require the highest level of function in a dress form. These are, more often than not, used by shops as a display option.
Dress Form Features
Moving right along, let us take a further look at the professional dress forms features. All professional quality dress forms are either partially or fully pinnable. Fully pinnable body forms have a much thicker layer of foam as compared to partially pinnable models. This is especially beneficial when sewing or tailoring, as a fully pinnable dress form accommodates the direct insertion of pins to hold fabric in place unlike partially pinnable dress forms, which only hold pins at an angle. This can get annoying if you use them for frequent pinning. Torso-only dress forms have either single or dual connectors that attach the standing pole to the body at the underside, and the pole can be moved from the middle to one side of the torso to allow the display of pants when inserted into the leg.
Adjusting the Dress Form
Because the main advantage of a dress form is having an exact replica of a human body to stand in for a model at all times, a custom made dress form that will mimic your exact measurements would obviously be ideal. But before dropping a boat load of cash on a custom option, consider the wisdom behind such an investment. Human bodies change all the time. Static dress forms however, keep their figure no matter what. So, if you are a serious designer with a fluctuating body, adjustability will be a key feature. Luckily, there are many innovative options available on the market for the inescapable reality of weight gain or loss. Models such as the Prym-Dritz Twin Fit and My Double dress forms feature measurement dials that allow designers to adjust critical points like the bust or hips as necessary. While these dials are super helpful for adding or nipping a bit here and there, they can pose a significant fitting and pinning problems because of the gaps and edges they create.
Critical Areas for Adjustments
If you are lucky enough to find a dress form on the market that more or less fits your measurements, you will want to go with that, and remember you can always pad up strategic areas as necessary to ensure the investment never becomes outdated. But there are some points of adjustability that you do not want to give up on. Height adjustment for one is vital if you will want to design something long and flowy like a maxi-dress or wedding gown. Collapsible shoulders are another big one. These help when dressing the form in tighter fitting garments. When you try to get tight clothing to fit you rotate and contract your shoulders, something a stationary form can’t do unless it is equipped with collapsible or removable shoulders. Wheels, although not a question of adjustability, are another feature that are always nice to have.
There is another custom option that will not break the bank, but will offer an exact replica of your body form for a fitting dream. Indeed, dress forms need not be expensive to serve their purpose, and there are a number of DIY options for budding fashionistas. Tutorials on do-it-yourself construction are widely available online. Because these DIY forms won’t cost more than 15.00, they can just be remade if you ever need to adjust the measurements. Of course they will be missing all of the other nice features most professional dress forms come equipped with.
Searching for Your Perfect Dress Form
Now that you are familiar with the nuts and bolts of your dress form to be, it is time for the hunt to begin:
Have a friend help you take your body measurements. To ensure accuracy, wear the shoes and undergarments you generally wear, and be sure to pull the tape measure snugly around the largest area of each part being measured.
Compare your body measurements with the size ranges of the different models that are available within your budget. Do your research and read reviews to ensure that you end up with a high quality, sturdy, durable piece that will serve you well in your future projects.
Order and enjoy!
First image: Black Female Dressform on Natural Wood Tripod Base, Second image: Professional Female Dress Form with Collapsible Shoulders, all via The Shop Company.