The Truth About Adjustable Dress FormsOver 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 best 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.)

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
All of them have pros and cons. So your challenge is to weigh the pros and cons and figure out which model suits your needs the best. Let’s go through each type and lay out the real deal so you can make a truly informed decision once and for all.

The 5 Best Dress Forms (Updated 2018)

PRODUCT NAMEQUALITY 
Dritz My Double Deluxe
(Editor’s Choice)
Best Adjustable Dress Form Check Price
Uniquely You Dress Form CoverBest Foam dress form with fabric cover Check Price
PGM Dress Form DressmakerBest Professional dress form Check Price
Ledrem Female Mannequin Dress FormBest budget dress form Check Price
Homemade duct tape dress form

Don’t Forget About The Fabulous Fit Fitting System. It allows you to customize your dress form in every possible way. The system works on any brand or model, including Dritz, Uniquely You, Singer, PGM and the rest.

 

Dritz My Double Deluxe – Best Plastic dress form with adjustable dials

Click the photo to see the Price on Amazon

Best-selling adjustable dress forms include models like the Singer 12-Dial 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.

Pros
  • The price is low, which is why most people start out with one of these. They are fully adjustable using a dial system, and you can pin on them if you slide the pins horizontally.
Cons
  • The biggest drawback most online reviews mention is how flimsy these dress forms are. Yes, plastic forms are flimsy. There’s no getting around that fact. The reason they’re flimsy is because they are a low cost alternative. Lightweight plastic means easy manufacturing and very low shipping fees. Some people say it feels like you can tip the form over. People get around that by weighting down the base with sandbags or a heavy blanket.

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.

Recommendation

If I were advising my own daughter or best friend, I’d tell them to spend the little bit of extra money to buy the Dritz My Double Deluxe. It’s the sturdiest brand in this class of dress forms, and comes with added features like an offset center pole, so you can use it for pants and shorts. This style is best if you’ll need to adjust the form frequently (like if your weight fluctuates or you sew for other people.)

Uniquely You Dress Form Cover – Best Foam dress form with fabric cover

Uniquely You Dress Form Cover

Click the photo to see the Price on Amazon

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.

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I figured it was a much better investment than the Dritz form from Jo-Ann.  In the changing landscape of sewing supply resources, turns out you can order them on Amazon now.

I was certainly much happier with this than the duct tape form, and I think it fits the needs of most sewers much better than a duct tape dummy would.  However, it isn’t a perfect solution to the dressform dilemma; there are certainly some drawbacks to this particular form.

Pros
  • Foam core dress forms are perceived as sturdier because they are heavier overall. You can pin straight into the form. And you never have gaps in the form like you do with the plastic versions. Pressing tailored shirts or wedding dresses directly on the form is no problem with this style.[
Cons
  • Getting the fabric cover to match your exact dimensions can be a challenge. And the torso length is not adjustable at all. So, if you have a long or short torso, or your shoulders are extra broad or narrow–you’re out of luck.

Cost: Foam core dress forms run around $190. Amazon offers free shipping, which is great because these suckers are heavy.

Recommendation

This type form is best if you will be sticking to one set of measurements most of the time. You don’t want to have to take the cover off and re-do it for lots of people. It’s also good if you draft your own patterns or drape garments directly onto the dummy.

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.

PGM Dress Form Dressmaker – Best Professional Dress Form

PGM Dress Form Professional Dressmaker

Click the photo to see the Price on Amazon

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.

Pros
  • These are sturdy, all-foam construction, pinnable from any angle. You can purchase full-body models that hang from the top–great for pants and costumes. The height is adjustable using a pedal system on the base. Oh, and the base is on wheels, so you can move it around easily.
  • One major benefit to professional models is you can get “pants only” and male and children’s models.
Cons
  • These are not adjustable in any way. They are manufactured to garment industry standard sizing and that’s all you get. If you are a “perfect” size 10 or 8 or 22, then you’re fine. But if any of your measurements (including height) deviate from the standard, you’re out of luck.

Cost: Professional dress forms run anywhere from $350 to $600, depending on if you purchase torso-only or full-body models.

Recommendation

Ledrem Female Mannequin Dress Form – Best budget dress form

Most home sewers really don’t need to spend this kind of money on a dress form, especially since they’re not adjustable at all.  I only recommend purchasing one if you are a designer working on new patterns or will be sewing lots of garments the exact same size. Shipping can get very expensive on these. If you were to purchase a professional form, I’d recommend getting the PGM Dress Form Professional Dressmaker and you’ll get the best deal.

Click the photo to see the Price on Amazon

The dress form is eco-friendly as the torso is made of recyclable material and has no bad influence on the indoor air. The white jersey form is sturdily attached to the body with no help from chemical glue, having no odor.

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The stability of the dress form is decent as it combines a wooden tripod stand and stainless steel tube. The dress form is long lasting and takes the heavyweight garment, clothes, wedding gowns and even furnishing and decorative material.

The height adjustability is something else to talk about the dress form. Its overall height is adjustable from 56” to 77,” and you only need to follow the instruction to do it.

It’s easy to put together/ take down the dress form, the head is also easy to remove, and the instruction that comes is constructive. Lightweight, it’s also effortless to carry around the dress form when in need.

The torso area is very well built and the dress for presents a great figure, with bust and curves. The medium and large shirts fit very well.

The mannequin looks nice and is excellent to use for display, decorating it with scarfs, clothes, various garment items. It presents good quality, and it’s a great asset for your designing projects.

Pros
  • The dress form has a solid rubber wood base and stretch cotton jersey
  • It’s easy to put together/take down
  • It’s easy to carry around
  • It looks nice and it’s great for display also
Cons
  • Legs are a tad loose
  • It’s not very easy to balance it out

Homemade duct tape dress formHomemade 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.

Pros
  • The biggest advantage is that this will be an exact replica of your body (assuming the taping and stuffing are done right.) If you have unusual dimensions, this might be the only way for you to get a good representation of yourself. Depending what you stuff it with, you should be able to pin to it.
Cons
  • Pinning through tape is gross. Your pins come out all sticky, and you have to spend time cleaning them later. Also, if you change dimensions or sew for other people, you need another dummy. Finally, it can be difficult to make a stand that really stands up.

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.

Recommendation: How to Make a Duct-Tape Dummy: 8 Steps

I used a duct tape dummy for a while, and I didn’t like it. I never did get it to stand up properly, and it was trick getting the measurements right with the stuffing. Now I use it as a mannequin to display clothes I make as gifts and custom orders. While there are times when this method works best (like when you have special measurement considerations), you’re not going to save that much money. By the time you purchase all the materials, you’re more than half-way to owning a good plastic model.

I made my first dressform, it was time consuming and I need the help of a friend but it was worthy (check here). I made it from liquid foam and casting tapes. I chose this method over the duck tape one with soft filling because I think that the duck tape  deforms with time and you loose the shape.

So if you’re sewing for yourself, it is very advantageous to invest time on making a dressform that will have your measurements. It’ll help you have a better fit and and you can see and modify accurately.

Best Adjustable Dress Forms Buyer’s Guide

There are two main categories of dress forms: the standard one and the professional type. The standard dress form fits standard clothing sizes, whereas the professional one lets you display an impressive variety of garments and it’s customized to fit a specific person.

It’s evident that a standard dress form is cheaper than a professional one and you should know exactly why do you need it the first place.

The variety of dress forms is tremendous and you may fins partially or fully pin-able dress forms, torso-only dress forms with single or dual connectors and so on.

If you are a dedicated designer, you should get an adjustable dress form, typically with measurement dials for better adjustments on the critical points. You may need height adjustment, collapsible shoulders, and wheels- in a nutshell…The more adjustments and features, the better the dress form.

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Sometimes you are not willing the break the piggy bank for a dress form, but this doesn’t mean you should manage without one. You may, in fact, do-it-yourself and have exactly the body shape and measurements you want on your very own dress form.

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.

Online: I recommend buying online from Amazon no matter what type dress form you’re getting. Why Amazon? Because they’re simply the best at what they do. You’ll have lots of styles and sizes to choose from. They generally have the best prices, and very often you can get free shipping on your order. They have the best reputation of any website for shopping cart security and their privacy policy is excellent.

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.

FAQ

how to pad a dress form?
So now let’s see the steps that you need to follow to pad out your dress form.
-Add a layer of quilt batting around the torso.
-Choose a bra that fits you perfectly and put it on your dress form.
-To make sure that the bra mimics the actual shape of the bust as closely as possible, you need to pad the bra with fiberfill.
how to make a dress form christmas tree?
Building a Christmas Tree Dress
-1. Make the bodice. Cut a 24 x 43-inch piece of burlap and drape around the dress form.
-2. Make the skirt. With the tape, measure around the dress form.
-Attach the greenery. Trim the branches with pruners.
-Be creative.
-Finishing touches.
how to make a duct tape dress form?
Steps
-Get a helper, it makes it a lot easier.
-Wear a well fitted bra and panties and an old tight t-shirt to help get the shape of the form as close as possible to how your body looks.
-Begin wrapping the tape horizontally where you want the bottom of the form to start.
-Here, cut the tape after making a complete layer.
what is the correct possessive form of dress?
Because ‘women’ is already plural, and is possessive. Ergo, you just add the apostrophe ‘s’.
what is a dress form?
A dress form is a three-dimensional model of the torso used for fitting clothing that is being designed or sewed. When making a piece of clothing, it can be put on the dress form so one can see the fit and drape of the garment as it would appear on a body, and make adjustments or alterations.
how to make a dress form cover?
How to make a cover for a dressform:
-Pin some stretchy fabric (Jersey or ribbed knit works best) alongside join, stretching as needed. Then mark the cutting line between the pins.
-Join the two pieces with with overcast machine.
-Pass a thick cotton thread through loops in the hem.
-Tighten and gather fabric at the bottom.
how to adjust a dress form?
To adjust the dressform height, loosen the height adjust- er wing nut by turning it to the left. Raise the height adjuster and the dressform until shoulder height matches your own shoulder height.
how much is a dress form?
While these forms generally have a much higher price tag (usually between $150 and $1,000), their features and longevity significantly outweigh those of the standard display versions. For one, professional dress forms feature more accurate proportions and are available in a variety of sizes.

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.

Quick Links:

HOW TO USE A DRESS FORM

Dress Forms Can Be a Sewing Room Essential

Plastic dress forms on Amazon

Foam core dress forms on Amazon

Professional dress forms on Amazon


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Dritz My Double Deluxe
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