Over the past 25 years or so, I’ve used a lot of dress forms. And I’ve researched even more. The truth is no matter what brand or style of dress form you look at, they all have their drawbacks. I get emails and comments all the time from people who want to buy a dress form but are totally confused by all the bad reviews scattered around the Internet. They just want an honest opinion on what to buy.
So here’s my honest opinion–there’s no such thing as a perfect dress form. Period. (If you find one, please please let me know.)
- 1 You have four options with dress forms
- 2 Plastic dress form with adjustable dials – Dritz My Double Deluxe
- 3 Foam dress form with fabric cover – Uniquely You Dress Form Cover
- 4 Professional dress form – PGM Dress Form Professional Dressmaker
- 5 Homemade duct tape dress form
- 6 Where’s the best place to buy a dressmakers dummy?
- 7 Things to remember:
- 8 What’s the next step?
You have four options with dress forms
- A plastic model with dials to adjust the measurements
- A foam model with a fabric cover used to adjust the measurements
- A professional model with no adjustability at all
- A duct tape do-it-yourself version
Plastic dress form with adjustable dials – Dritz My Double Deluxe
These include models like the Singer 150 and the Dritz My Double Deluxe. They are built on a plastic core with a thin padded covering of foam and jersey. The fabric cover is available in different colors. To adjust the size, you select the number on the dial that matches your measurement most closely in inches.
Another drawback is you can’t push pins straight into the form. The core is solid plastic, so you have to pin horizontally.
Finally, when you adjust the measurements to fit you exactly, the pieces of the form separate. So, you won’t be able to pin where there is only space, at the waist for example. Some people find this frustrating when drafting their own patterns. I could see it being a problem if you were altering the shape of the bust for a full-figured apparel project.
Cost: Plastic adjustable dress forms run between $100 and $200. Generally the cheaper ones are extremely flimsy–so just be prepared for that if you’re buying on price.
Foam dress form with fabric cover – Uniquely You Dress Form Cover
Another drawback is that the center pole is not offset, so you cannot fit pants or shorts to this form once the inseam is sewn. However, you can purchase a “pants form” separately for around $170.
Cost: Foam core dress forms run around $190. Amazon offers free shipping, which is great because these suckers are heavy.
I own the Uniquely You brand and highly recommend it because it’s sturdy, and it’s not that much more expensive than the plastic core models. Be sure to look for free or reduced shipping; the foam is heavy.
Professional dress form – PGM Dress Form Professional Dressmaker
These are the dress forms used by fashion designers in the garment manufacturing industry. They only come in the industry standard sizes. Brands for these dummies include PGM, Yamata and Family.
One major benefit to professional models is you can get “pants only” and male and children’s models.
Cost: Professional dress forms run anywhere from $350 to $600, depending on if you purchase torso-only or full-body models.
Homemade duct tape dress form
Homemade do-it-yourself dress forms have been around for a long while. Basically, you get a friend to tape your torso over a t-shirt. Then you cut it off your body, stuff it with something and mount it to a stand of some sort.
Cost: You’re only out a couple of rolls of tape, a t-shirt, and whatever you bribed your friend with to get the taping job done (usually pizza and beer.) Plus the stuffing and stand materials.
Where’s the best place to buy a dressmakers dummy?
Offline: Your local fabric store might have one or two of the plastic ones in stock. Unfortunately, they never seem to be in the size you want. But they can also order them for you. Fortunately, these are the lightest weight dress forms you can buy. So, you won’t pay too much in shipping.
What if you order online and need to return the product? If you ordered from Amazon, you’re covered by an A-to-Z guarantee. So you can just send it back.
Things to remember:
1) Try to get free shipping, if you can.
2) Order the size that’s closest to your actual measurements. You’ll find every model comes in small, medium and large. Some models come in child sizes and extra-large adult sizes, too.
What’s the next step?
I don’t want you to just take my word for which dress form you should buy. You next step is to head over to Amazon and check out the reviews, descriptions and prices for yourself.
Plastic dress forms on Amazon
Foam core dress forms on Amazon
Professional dress forms on Amazon