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 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.)
- 1 You have four options with dress forms
- 2 The 5 Best Dress Forms (Updated 2018)
- 3 Dritz My Double Deluxe – Best Plastic dress form with adjustable dials
- 4 Uniquely You Dress Form Cover – Best Foam dress form with fabric cover
- 5 PGM Dress Form Dressmaker – Best Professional Dress Form
- 6 Ledrem Female Mannequin Dress Form – Best budget dress form
- 7 Homemade duct tape dress form
- 8 Best Adjustable Dress Forms Buyer’s Guide
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
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
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.
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.
Uniquely You Dress Form Cover – Best Foam dress form with fabric 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.
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.
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.
PGM Dress Form Dressmaker – Best Professional Dress Form
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.
Ledrem Female Mannequin Dress Form – Best budget dress form
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.
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.
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.
Recommendation: How to Make a Duct-Tape Dummy: 8 Steps
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.
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.
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.
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