sewing tips, sewing advice, dressforms and mannequins

HOW A DRESSFORM CAN IMPROVE YOUR SEWING

A dress form is also known as a tailor’s dummy, and owning one is like having a second pair of hands
and makes sewing your clothes so much easier!

Prymadonna Violet dress form from WeaverDee - priced at £135

Prymadonna Violet dress form from WeaverDee - priced at £135

You can pin patterns and garments to the dress form, while leaving your hands free to make alterations and deal with fitting decisions. They’re great for making sure that collars lay flat, inserting zips and for taking up hems unassisted, and other tasks that are near impossible to do by yourself.

Shown here is the Prymadonna Violet dress (8-part body with dial adjusters and adjustable back length from Prym and stocked by WeaverDee. It has everything you need from integral pin cushion on top of neck, metal stand for greater stability, adjustable hem marker with pinning attachment.

 

It also adjusts at the neck, bust, waist and hips by means of push-rotate dial on the front, and rotating wheel at the back and at the sides. In total, it has13 adjustments possible. Shoulders designed to offer a better hang to sleeves, lightly padded fabric covering allows pinning. The body form is fully assembled and simply slides on to the metal stand. It comes in four sizes: XS (sizes 4-8), S (10-16), M (sizes 16-20) and XL (sizes 20-24) and is great value at £135 whatever size you choose from WeaverDee.

What I also like about this one is that you can buy a cover for it. The cover is washable and keeps it clean, and pattern pieces can be pinned to it without damaging the dress form. This costs £15 (normally £19.90) from WeaverDee at the moment.

Is there a difference between a dress form and display mannequin?
It can be quite confusing as dress forms and display mannequins are quite often sold side by side but they are totally different from one another. Display mannequins are designed for displaying garments, and looking pretty in the home, and although can be a place to hang up clothes, they’re not the best for fitting and mking your own clothes.

What things should I consider before buying a dress form?
Who’s sewing?

If you’re sewing for yourself, you could buy one that isn’t adjustable? However, most of us don’t stay
the same size so choosing one that allows you to make some adjustments will help to get a good fit.
Many companies stock small, medium and large versions so you’ll need to buy the one that relates to your size.

How often will you use it?
If you love making clothes, then you’ll probably use it a lot, so it makes sense to invest in a good one that will last.

Here’s a few things to look out for:

  • Check how many adjustments it can offer
  • Make sure it doesn’t tip over when it has garments draped over it – cheaper makes can be lightweight!
  • Some dress forms come in two halves, which is perfect if you need to put it away between using.
  • Some include covers, come with a chalk hem marker, and some have lockable wheels to make moving it from place to place easy.

What are you sewing?
If you like to make fitted garments, a dress form with adjustments is must-have. Some come with a dial that you can expand and adjust key areas like waist, hips and bustline. Some of these styles can be difficult to pin because of the gaps – we’d recommend the foam version, as it is better for pinning and for draping.

Some dress forms feature part leg forms designed to help fit trousers. Make sure you go to a reputable retailer where a good quality dress form will set you back between £100 - £300.