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Fittings and things

2011 March 3
by elizabeth_admin

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I have a 42 year old body.  This body has been very good to me over the years.  I have not always appreciated my body, but I have always counted on it to work properly day to day.  This body produced a very cute kid.  In doing so, and due to lack of proper care, this body has become slightly misshapen.  It no longer looks like the svelte 28 year old me which is the picture I have of myself in my mind’s eye.  The proof is in the mirror. 

In muslining my current project, S2614, I realized that I have reached the stage where I could really use dressform.  In trying to figure out what pattern changes to make to get the sides and back of my blouse to be more flattering and drape well, I was awkwardly pinching fabric under my arms and then twisting in the mirror to see which pinch was better.  It dawned on me that if I had a dressform that was a reasonable facsimile of my figure, this muslin process would be much quicker with a lot less guess work involved.  It might even reduce the amount of muslins required to properly fit a garment to my body from 3 to 1 or 1.5. 

image from


I know a lot of people have asked their blog readers about which dressforms are best.  And I know that a lot of people made their decisions based on malleable a particular dress form is.  However, I have not heard any opinions to the following question:

Which dressform best suits a body of average proportions but with a slightly middle-aged profile (i.e. lower bust line, thicker middle, etc) and a more curvy profile?  I don’t think I have unusual body traits like forward thrusting shoulders or an immense swayback to deal with, at least I don’t know that I do yet.  I am no longer a sleek 25 yr old without a thought in my head that my perky bustline will soon dust my stomach. 

So please speak!  Which dressform suits the pleasantly almost middle-aged demographic?

22 Responses leave one →
  1. March 3, 2011

    I don’t have a well-fitting dress form, but Robin (A Little Sewing on the Side) recently had one made for her. Perhaps she’ll chime in here or you could contact her about details. That would definitely be the way to go, IMO.

    • March 3, 2011

      NancyDaQ your post made me visit Robin’s blog (thank you for finding more sewing inspiration for me ;)) I’ve cut ‘n’ pasted the link for Robin’s posts on her dressform here: Wolf Dress Form

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      March 3, 2011

      I think that’s too expensive for me at this time. Unfortunately! I am so jealous of her form!

  2. March 3, 2011

    Elizabeth, until you get a “proper” dressform, have you considered taking the cheap ‘n’ temporary route of a duct-tape dummy, one might tide you over until you end up investing good money on a suitable model? There’s loads of tutorials on making them all over the web (Threads even has an article: Clone Yourself A Fitting Assistant).

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      March 3, 2011

      I don’t think I have the patience to make that kind of dressform. Also, I have heard they are pretty unstable and hard to get bust definition. I don’t want to do all that work and then have it not be practical at all.

      • March 3, 2011

        I did make one of these, and it wasn’t accurate to start, and got worse with age – duct tape stretches. I have a Roxy now that I padded and love, but she is a bit perky.

  3. luckylibbet permalink
    March 3, 2011

    Uniquely You.

    Order a size (or even two sizes!) smaller than your measurements would indicate. Plan to do surgery on the girls.

    see this thread on PatternReview

  4. March 3, 2011

    I did a ton of research before I bought mine. In the end, I bought a “Uniquely You” dress form. I absolutely LOVE it.

    If you decide to go this route, tho, you’ll need to have a sewing friend help you alter the cover. That takes the MOST time, but once you have it done, it’ll revolutionize your sewing. I had to borrow an electric bread knife to hack off the form’s boobies. They were SUPER large, but otherwise, I love this form.

    Before I bought it, I tried the duct tape form route and HATED it. Besides not being able to get it to “stand” properly, I couldn’t pin into it.

  5. March 3, 2011

    I dunno- I just made a duct tape one- if you want to see it… and I kind of love it! I haven’t done any major draping projects with it yet, but I can tell it is closer to my shape than anything I might buy.

  6. March 3, 2011

    I have a Uniquely You dressform and except for the fact that its’ bust is a tad higher than mine…almost all of the other proportions are pretty spot on. The best thing about a Uniquely You dressform is that you pad her out to your proportions so the area where I need the most help – stomach/butt is actually me – pauch and all. This probably would be the best route to go but be prepared to surgically alter the bust line ALOT!

  7. tsedai permalink
    March 3, 2011

    Uniquely You all the way! I just got one and love it! I tried the duct-tape form originally, but it was just too big, heavy, and cumbersome, plus the layers of duct tape made it far too big to actually fit garments with. The UY form is foam so you can pin to it, it has a metal stand (not SUPER substantial, but it gets the job done), and made in USA for people who are conscious about that sort of thing. I think it hits the sweet spot in terms of price, quality, shape likeness, and effort to set up.

    Fitting the cover takes about a day and requires some blood (got my finger in the zipper), sweat (hard work shoving the foam into the cover), and tears (my mom stabbed me with a few pins) but totally worth it. It totally fits all the lumps and bumps. I didn’t do any breast reduction surgery on mine, and, if anything, the breasts are too low. I think it took a little more effort than the duct tape dummy, but the results were much much better.

    When looking at dressforms I needed to consider that I have a long swayback, small (slightly forward) shoulders, and a larger size for the hips than for the upper body. I wanted some reasonable body resemblance where I could use it to fit the back of my shirts/dresses. I also wasn’t really willing to spend more than $250-300, so some of the nicer forms were not viable options for me.

    As I recently did A LOT of dressform research before I got the UY. Maybe TMI, but I will share what I found (prices estimate tax/shipping):

    Duct tape – cheap, like maybe $20! But much effort, not super great results, I made one and tried but didn’t use it much/at all because it was too big around the shoulders and made everything too baggy on me.

    Plastic adjustable – like Singer or Dritz from Jo-Anns. These can be got for about $100-150, you can “adjust” them for different sizes. They seem to be easy/fast to set up. They also seem to be flimsy and hard to pin to as they are plastic. I have heard about dials breaking, stands collapsing, etc. Some of them you can’t lengthen the back and some you can. These are easy, fast, and cheap, but I think for a little more money and a little more effort you can do a lot better.

    Uniquely You – $150-200. Foam, pinable, metal stand, etc. Looks remarkably like your body once you are done. Kinda a pain to get the form in the cover, but once it is done it looks awesome. Also, if you change shape substantially you can always get another cover ($30) and make it look like the new you! Got mine from Sew Vac Direct online, shipped within a week, and their directions for picking form sizes was really good. There is also a form available for making pants, but it is separate and extra money. I think the stand is maybe not quite as sturdy as some of the more expensive forms, but people have said that they do use them for long gowns and they don’t fall over, and in my experience it is sturdy enough.

    My Twin – $200-300. You get wrapped up in medical bandages, which get turned into a mold, and then filled with liquid foam that hardens, you cover it with some fabric and put it on a stand. This seemed WAY too labor intensive to me, but I have heard it makes fabulous results. I think if you have severe fitting issues this may be the way to go, but if you just have the usual problems, the UY is less effort at a somewhat lower price.

    Standard size/professional forms (Family Sew, Roxy, PGM) – $150-300. Good news: these are good quality forms, nice stands, etc. You can also get for making pants, arms, etc. Bad news: they only come in standard sizes, so you have to get padding to adjust them.

    Fabulous Fit – $400-ish. You get a form and padding and a cover. These also look really nice, but again, you have to add the padding, etc.

    Wolf – $800+. The Rolls Royce of Dress Forms. Custom made, custom fit, totally amazing. Level of detail can increase for various fitting needs. Don’t think about it too much. Your pocket book will bleed.

    • saro permalink
      March 4, 2011

      tsedai’s post should be a blog post in itself – so informative!

  8. Sewer permalink
    March 3, 2011

    I would not waste the time on a duct tape form. I’ve heard too many complaints. Wolf is supposed to be the best. As a new one is out of the question right now, I would look for used ones on eBay and craigslist. Ronis, Royal and Alvenon are other brands I’ve heard about.

    I’ve been intrigued by the My Twin for years and one day may do it. But the impression I get from people at the fashion school where I’ve taken courses is that if one wants to learn traditional draping, it’s best to start with a standard dress form.

    I’m hoping to buy a used or new form in next few months. I’m going to have to get help padding it. I’m not even sure what size to buy.

    Here are some links:

    Note the discussion of the Alvanon “Curvy” series.

    My Twin Dress forms.

  9. Sewer permalink
    March 3, 2011

    I’ve also heard bad things about adjustable. forms.

  10. March 3, 2011

    Before I bought my Wolf Dress Form, I had a lesson with Susan Khalje so I could pick her brain. She is a big fan of the Roxy dress forms and they are not too terribly expensive. She uses quilt batting to pad it out. I am pretty sure she also teachs students how to sew a tight sloper to put on the form. Your figure does seem to be well within the standard measurements used for a Roxy, so I bet it would work well for you.

    That Uniquely You sounds like a good option, too. I really like that top you just muslined in your last post. So much so that I promptly ordered it 🙂
    Having a dress form definitely saves on wear & tear on you. It’s nice to keep your clothes on while you work on pattern alterations, LOL.

    • sewer permalink
      March 3, 2011

      I enjoyed your description of your trip to Wolf Dress Form. I’ve seen the video on the making for dress forms, but I had no idea how much was involved in the making of a custom form. I’m really tempted to consider getting a custom form now. *Sigh* For me, there’s no point in sewing if the garment doesn’t fit properly.

      Now I have an incentive to lose some weight.

  11. March 3, 2011

    Thanks to tsedai for sharing her research. A really helpful thread, Elizabeth! I also am wanting a dressform, but since my body fluctuates, hard to commit.

  12. March 4, 2011

    Thanks for this – I could really do with some advice on a dress form, too, so this is timely. I’m the same age bracket as you, so will look forward to hearing the answers! Uniquely You seems popular from the replies so far.

  13. March 4, 2011

    I have a vintage adjustable form and a paper tape double. Unfortunately, I never really use either. The vintage adjustable is too big in the bust and way too small in the hips (and has no swayback). The paper tape is rigid and fitted things can’t be pulled onto it without ripping–it’s the same size as me but I squish! I’ve considered the Uniquely You but the giant boobs scare me.

  14. March 4, 2011

    I have a vintage adjustable form and a paper tape double. Unfortunately, I never really use either. The vintage adjustable is too big in the bust and way too small in the hips (and has no swayback). The paper tape is rigid and fitted things can’t be pulled onto it without ripping–it’s the same size as me but I squish! I’ve considered the Uniquely You but the giant boobs scare me. I wouldn’t know what size to get because if I went with my hip size the shoulders and bust would never fit.

  15. March 4, 2011

    Mine is a “Dritz My Double Deluxe” and if anything its b&&bs are on the low side. I can’t say it helps me completely avoid muslins, because it doesn’t match my shape exactly. If I were to do it again I would have bought the petite and padded it out instead of buying the small, as the small is too long from shoulder to bust although overall the back waist length can be adjusted to match mine. I’ve also put a padded bra on mine in the past to give it some shape as mine’s b&&bs are kind of wide and flat and not as much toward the center of the bust as me. Anyway, it’s a reasonable approximation in that I can adjust the sides and back to be a different measurement than the front, but not perfect and I can’t say I’d wholeheartedly recommend it, but it’s ok and was only $99 shipped (caught an online sale.)

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