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pbuhler2 | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I need a dressform. I am definitely an odd sized body – I have very small shoulders, am short-waisted and start small on top and end up looking like an egg, going from about a 10 to a 16 retail sizes. Any suggestions?


  1. carolfresia | | #1

    Patti, if you can find a willing partner, you might consider making a "duct tape double" or similar form, which is made from your very own body. That way, the finished form will exactly (well, depends on how good a job the taper does, of course) duplicate your shape. Check the online article providing instructions for this--look under "Fitting" in the Features library on the Threads home page. I'm still looking for someone to tape me, because I'm also not a conventional size--but then again, not many of us are. Vive la difference!


    1. enidshapiro | | #2

      You might want to invest in a dressform made especially for you.  It's about $750.  Let me caution you though. . . I've learned that even if a muslin I've made fits PERFECTLY on the dressform, it doesn't fit perfectly on me.  Usually the waist is too big, even though the form's measurements at the waist are identical to my own.  So it isn't a cure-all, but it definitely helps, especially with shoulders.  (I have narrow shoulders too.)

      1. EileenB5 | | #4


        If I did want to have a professional form made, how would I go about it??  None of the commercial forms I have seen so far allow for a short waist and a very high bust.



        1. user-255690 | | #5

          My husband helped me make a duct tape double a few months ago. It wasn't difficult but I have been less than happy with the results. My double is busting out where it was cut and taped back together, no matter how much I try to rewrap it.

          I also found it inaccurate. By the time the three layers of tape were in place, the measurements of my double didn't match my own (the double was bigger). Because it isn't made of the same material all the way through, like a foam double would be, pins won't stay put OR the pin heads come off when I try to remove the pins (yes, probably cheap pins) and I'm left with the pin sticking out of the double with no way to remove it!

          The finished result isn't smooth, either (a function of being made of tape) and I couldn't get the bust(s) stuffed firmly enough to prevent collapse and to mimic my own shape perfectly.

          On top of all that, I've lost 20 pounds and I can't adjust the duct tape double!

          I'm looking at buying a commercial dress form, now, and am trying to decide between the Uniquely You form which is shaped to fit with a cover sewn to my measurements OR the Fabulous Fit system with one of their dress forms. The Uniquely You is available in Canada; the Fabulous Fit is not, as far as I can tell, so price may be the deciding factor. I am worried, however, that getting the cover sewn accurately for the Uniquely You could be a chore. I think getting the measurements would be the same amount of work in either case.

          Does anyone have any opinions on either (or both) of these systems?

          What about using a dress form, period? I THINK it would be helpful in getting the fit right since it's so hard to see what a pattern looks like when I'm wearing the tissue, especially the back (even though Palmer/Pletsch makes it look so easy)!

          Are sewers using dress forms or are we all just sewing loose-fitting styles and avoiding the fit issue altogether? Maybe this is why quilting has become so popular!


          1. BYDEZINE | | #6

            my first attempt at a duct tape double was a disaster. but I persisted and love mine now. Plus I had a breast reduction and successfully made the breast area smaller on my double and it's ideal now.

            As for the taped surface I purchased some lightweight cotton knit and put it tightly over the double to give it a more finished look AND for a pinning surface.

            Try again because the duct tape double is the only thing that has the possibility of matching the way you stand, where you bulge and dip and you'll find it indispensible.

          2. lindamaries | | #8


            I think that Palmer/Pletsch method is pretty good. The whole idea is to learn the adjustments to the standard sloper and then just automatically do those same things to all the other patterns.

            But there are problems with this a little bit. You can not alter patterns that are designed from something other than the standard block: like New Mode or Burda, Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Vogue patterns. Also, sometimes a person doesn't really like the huge amount of design ease put into a style. Just doing the usual personal adjustments to a pattern still might not help because a person is not thinking about reducing or changing the design ease to suit their taste.

            Also, Palmer/Pletsch's method calls for fabric fitting while you are in the construction process. This is difficult when you are sewing for yourself. (Those back zippers are tricky!)

            A double really helps even though Palmer/Pletsch works pretty well.

        2. lindamaries | | #7

          The only place I know of that does casting forms is Dress Rite Forms,

          3817 N. Pulaski, Chicago, IL 60641-3141

          http://www.dressriteforms.com ( 1-773-588-5761)

          I talked with the owner at the Chicago textile show and he said that they do body casting there. I checked my old pamplets from that company, but do not see a price for casting.

          I really think that you'd be better off having brown paper tape. Our bodies change so much the expense of body casting is really only for the rich.

          I've seen pictures of Dolly Parton's body cast that was made at Dress Rite. It was interestingly different.

        3. enidshapiro | | #10

          You have to go in person and get your measurements taken.  Then they make it.  That's it.  Again, let me stress, it is not the end-all.  Clothes still fit differently on a human body - the body is more forgiving - but it helps alot. 

          1. EileenB5 | | #11


            Have you had this done? How much better was it than a standard form?  I realize it is not the same as a body, but  at least it would give a jump start to fitting your first muslin when making a garment. I have always wanted a dress form, but I am very short waisted (back length just under 14 inches) so nothing commercial would work.


          2. enidshapiro | | #12

            Yes, had it done.  I live in New York, so there are a couple of places to go.  Mine was about $700.  I'm totally satisfied.  It is very good for making sure waist hits right, shoulders are the right size.  It is infinitely better than a standard dress form.  When I look at the body, it definitely looks like mine.  I think it is worth the investment.

          3. EileenB5 | | #13


            May I ask who in New York you went to?  I live inSalisbury, Maryland and get to the Big Apple now and then for a "culture fix"!!


          4. enidshapiro | | #14

            Sorry it took so long to reply.

            I went to Superior in New York.  They were very nice.  It took two visits, if I'm remembering correctly - one to be measured (wear the bra you usually wear) and then one for them to check if they did it correctly.

            Another well known place in New York is Wolf. 

  2. lindamaries | | #3

    I have one made of brown paper tape. You need one or two helpers,

    brown paper tape, and a dry cleaner's plastic garment bag. I tried the duct tape on my daughter and the smell was really bad for her.

    Plus, I got it a little too tight and she was really suffering. The tape one is better, in my opinion. I think Jan Bones has a book on the subject. I think she has a web page, but I am not sure.

  3. andryea | | #9

    You may want to check out the following website.


    Jean Haas has been helping sewers create duct tape clones of themselves with much success. I see that she is now offering a video of the process for do-it-yourselfers. (She also offers classes but these are located only in Northern Illinois.)


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