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introduction and asking for advice

dancingdamsel | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi everyone, I have just joined the forum and thought I would introduce myself. My name is Diane and I live in the Hunter Valley, Australia where the temperature is currently a nice sunny 20 (70) degrees in midwinter. I sew, crochet, dance and garden. I teach medieval dance and frequently make medieval costumes, as well as Anime costumes for my oldest daughter, and general sewing for myself, hubby and both daughters (5 and 20).

I have a question, please. I have just been given 2 older dressmakers dummys, but the adjustment mechanisms seem stuck and I am loath to force them. Can anyone offer advice as to how to adjust them, I decided against WD40, or oil as I wasn’t sure how the plastic would react, and I was worried about transfer to fabric later. Any suggestions gratefully read and appreciated.





  1. starzoe | | #1

    Welcome to the forum - you will find a wealth of expertise here, very helpful people. About your question: silicone spray works on plastic but I believe you would still have to be careful about it tranferring to fabric. Wax works on plastic zippers, makes them run smoothly but you would have to get the mechanism open enough to begin moving before applying wax. What about soap? A few drops of liquid detergent?

    Good luck with this. I'm certain someone will come up with just the solution.

    1. Ceeayche | | #2

      Welcome!  I find this group fascinating.  We're from all over the world and come with a world's worth of experience. 

      Another suggestion which wouldn't leave any residue --albeit tricker depending on the construction of the dressforms--  is to take the temperature of each in opposite directions using ice cubes in a plastic bag (to catch the drippings) and a source of heat (hair dryer on low, warm water, heating pad or something with relatively low heat, not enough to melt it, just enough to warm it).  Apply the ice to the nob, and if you can get your hand inside use heating pad or maybe a warm wash cloth also in a plastic bag.  When you're working with stuck plastic cups this works like a charm. You fill the top cup with ice and place the bottom one under warm water and twist gently and voila!  

      1. starzoe | | #3

        Your message came to me, but our new member dancingdamsel is the one who asked the question.

        1. Ceeayche | | #4

          ooops thanks!

  2. melanie | | #5

    If the dummies are smaller than your present size there need be no problem. Dress one with a favourite but old well fitting bra and pad it with fleece or foam until it is  your own measurement. Mark where your waist is and apply inch wide elastic or ribbon to your size padding this if neccesary. From here mark down to your widest hip measurement and attach wadding, copying your contours back and front as closely as possible. I have no solution if you want to reduce the size. My own dummy is adapted like this - not a pretty sight but it's my twin! and a great help. Hope this helps or at least gives you an idea.

  3. dancingdamsel | | #6

    Thanks all for your advice. I will try the soap and heat/cold treatments as I want to be able to adjust it. I sew for a lot of people of all shapes and sizes. Failing that, I will pad it as suggested by Melanie.

    Thanks guys, and if you have any other ideas, please let me know.





  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #7

    Just a thought, but some mechanisms have to be pushed in before they are turned, and the ratchets may have jumped apart inside. If this is the case, you are going to have to reach inside and realign the mechanisms before you do anything. Forcing the knobs is going to just break them if this is the case. Check this first!!!!! Cathy

    1. dancingdamsel | | #8

      Hi Cathy, thanks for your message. How can I tell? Can you tell me what I should see?

      Regards, Diane



      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #9

        Ok, some adjustment knobs or buttons have to be pushed in before turning to adjust. My new form has a button on the side you push in. Some older models you have to actually push the whole knob in before turning. Like you do on stoves. Inside there will be a wheel with little notches cut out that catch on a latch to hold it in place. Sometimes they go past that part and get hooked up on the smooth part beyond where they are supposed to be, and slide off. You may have to remove a covering that is supposed to prevent this. Older forms should just screw off. The newer ones are riveted on, which is a pain.
        The first thing I would try is pushing in the knob before trying to turn it, or looking for a button of some sort that would release the lock on on the knob. You have to hold this the whole time you are turning it. If you get someone to try and move the parts of the dress form together or apart, gently, it may pop in on it's own. If it doesn't turn then, Then you have to look at the innards of the mechanism. Let me know if this worked before you get to the innards ok. Cathy

        1. dancingdamsel | | #10

          Sheer genius, Cathy! Yes, these need to be pushed in to turn!!!! Some are still stuck, however, so I will have a closer look at those tomorrow, since my plans for the day (gardening) just went down the drain with the rain.

          Cathy, you are fantastic!



          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #11

            Awww, shucks. Thanks. Blush. Yes, these may be stuck. Try wiggling the bands as you turn the wheel. It may come unstuck. :) Cathy

  5. Palady | | #12

    Have you had success in getting the all of your dressforms in working order?


    1. dancingdamsel | | #13

      Hi Everyone, Thanks to you all for your advice. Thanks to Cathy in particular (wonderful lady) for realising that I was so inexperienced with the dressmaking dummies that I didn't know the older models needed the dials pushed in before they would turn. Yep, that was all it was <hangs head in embarrassment>. I even worked out how to reduce the height as I am severly vertically challenged. There is only one dial I could not budge. The neck size dial on one dummy is still stuck and will not go in to turn at all. I can live with that!

      What a fantastic group! Thank you all so much for your help.



      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #14

        Don't be embarrassed! It is not an obvious thing to do, and unless you are familiar with these types, you wouldn't think to do so. Thanks for the compliment anyhow. I am just happy that it worked out so well for you. Cathy

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