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How to Use a Dress Form

Thea_ | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I would like to know how to use a dress form.


  1. lin_hendrix | | #1

    Hi Thea,

    Aside from an expensive coat hanger??

    Seriously though some of the uses I make of my dress form: A pressing and forming tool when tailoring a jacket lapel roll or collar. I use it for draping patterns. Fitting any sort of garment. I also like to put a near-completed full dress or skirt on it overnight to let the bias kind of "hang" out before hemming.

    It's best if your form is as close to your own body measurements as possible. Since I'm kind of shrimpy, I've found that the length measurements are more critical than the width measurements; for example, you can always add more/less ease around but it's difficult to estimate a shorter waist.


    1. Dyana_Aria | | #2

      *Hi Thea,I love my dress form and could not live without it. I use it for a multitude of reasons.My favorite is to hang the fabrics I plan to work with. I like to work with more than one fabric, sometimes I'll use three. It helps to see them draped on the dress form and access from a distance to see if it works together or not. I then play around creating collars, this is the real creative and fun part of designing.I was trained on a dress form in Fashion Design school, so it does come somewhat natural to work with now. I turn my garment inside out and then I pin facing and am able to do hand sewing that is smooth and maintains the natural curves of the body. It's a must -have for putting shoulder pads in. My list is endless. I've created an arm piece and have padded the dress for to replicate my body measurements ( I did this at school and it is VERY time consuming). However, I'd only recommend this if sewing is/or probably will be a life long passion. Oh, I didn't mention that in addition to flat pattern making you can also drape a pattern,but you must have a dress form. The easiest way to learn draping is to take a class. It's an invaluable skill if you want to make elegant evening dresses.Enjoy your dress form! (I've got to admit this I have 4 of them!!)

      1. Sheena_Reid | | #3

        *'Help, Sewing Shops in New England'Have heard you have wonderful sewing/craft shops in the States, will be over in Sept/Oct. Can anyone advise me on where to find them in New England? Interested in dressmaking, tailoring, smocking and patchwork. Have Bernina and Viking sewing machines.Sheena in Kent, UK

        1. Karen_Vesk | | #4

          *I rarely use my dress forms for fitting, other than shoulder pads, because none of my clients are remotely shaped like them. I sometimes use them to cut hems of dress linings, especially full-length dresses.Often I use them as displays when clients come to pick up their garments (a gown looks soooo much better in 3-D), but I still have to use shoulder pads to lower bust points to where ummmm... most of us have breasts... and often have to pad hips/waists. Last week, it was padded to resemble an eight-month pregnant woman for whom I made a maternity cocktail dress!A friend gave me stretchy covers to hide the padding (and the fact that for some of my larger clients, the adjustable one is at its maximum size.Mostly they are props for my studio - and if I don't feel like "undressing" them to fit shoulder pads, I use a large hanger intended for fur coats, which I hang from my chandelier. Pray that I don't get electrocuted for my efforts!

          1. bonnie_s | | #5

            *Hi Thea,I use a dress form for altering ready-to-wear. I wear a size 2 Petite top and bottom in ready-to-wear, but my shoulders are very wide and my arms/legs are long. My dress form is an ancient Sears Fairloom petite model (it was $20 at St Vincent de Paul). I adjusted the form inwards and heavily padded the shoulders until I got the right dimensions and slope. I found a size 2P summer plaid business suit at st vinnies for $5 that fits me perfectly with the shoulder pads ripped out (though very snug). I dressed my dress form with the suit, removed the buttons and sewed it shut. I put the alterations over the suited form. I use the plaid pattern of the suit as a measurement grid for giving exact positioning of darts, buttons, collars, sleeve lengths and skirt lengths. I permanently marked the plaid in the right places and tacked it to the form so it doesn't walk between fittings. Try it, you'll like it!

          2. Mary_O'Donnell | | #6

            *Which type/brand do you recommend. I want to buy the best. Thank you in advance for your reply mry from Santa Monica

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