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sewing mannequin –

Balencia | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi, anyone know what best type of body for fitting garments etc. is? thanks.




thankfully – LG


  1. NY2NZ | | #1

    It depends on who the garments are for.  If they are personal garments, you can get a mannequin and pad it up to your size to duplicate your body. 

    If I am sewing for my children, I use them to fit the garments. 

    If I am sewing stuff for friends/associates, I just adjust the mannequin I have to their size (I have Wolf Size 8, and I use batting/wadding to fill her out, cos I'm a 12, so I put on one of my bra's, fill it up, put on one of my panties, fill it out and then I cover her with a lycra/cotton (elastane) cover so she is held together.

     If you want a mannequin because you are going to sew garments to see on the retail market, most designers will use a standard size of Medium for their samples.  (which opens up a whole 'nother can of worms, cos with some designers M=8 and with others M=12).

    So if you elaborate, we might be able to help you better.

    1. User avater
      Balencia | | #2

      Elaboration was never my strong point!  Well - I just want it for me really  - as greedy as I am and have been reading about the interesting route of taping yourself up like some sort of mummy and then cutting up the side so that you get a body in the form of thick tape over white cotton which sounds a good idea but what do you stand it on!  I do love the bodies you can buy - being a spendthrift - but also because I lost my previous body, which I had only just purchased, in a fire along with all my other sewing things many years ago and a body is the one thing I have never replaced and just feel that it would be like burying a hatchet if you know what I mean by replacing something that was cherished but lost.  May sound melodramatic but at the time it was just so!   I do use my little 4 year old as a mannequin when I can catch her! 

      Yours  sincerely,  LG.

      1. NY2NZ | | #3

        Lorinda (my dummy) is on my cutting table as she doesn't have a stand either. (it was left in the US when we moved, cos it was heavy).  Makes dresses a bit of a pain in the gluteals, but its workable for me.

        The duct tape dummy does work for some.  The only caveat being if you gain or lose any weight, you have to do it all over again.  The other thing I wonder (as I've never had one personally) is how one would pin on it?  How do you keep it from collapsing in on itself?  

        FWIW (for what its worth) I got Lorinda for free when they closed down the fashion design program at the local uni.  As I've said before, she is Wolf Size 8 (US) and I'm a 12.  Wadding is my friend. LOL


        1. starzoe | | #4

          A hint on acquiring a dress form and keeping the cost down - I have been surfing the local free classified ad site and found a Diana dress form in perfect condition, my size for $125. That's over a third less than retail and well worth it.

          1. NY2NZ | | #6


            I think you wanted to send this to the OP, I have a dummy already (and, at times, I can *be* a dummy too)


          2. starzoe | | #8

            Sorry about that - not paying attention (as usual). My motto should be "if all else fails....read the instructions", something I should have learned by now. I knit and sew a lot and sometimes surging ahead without the instructions can be disastrous.

          3. NY2NZ | | #9

            No worries...I know the feeling (my excuse is distraction - three kids and a husband).


      2. Gloriasews | | #12

        As others have mentioned, you can pad your dummy.  As for the duct tape dummy, if you live in a very warm or humid environment, it can collapse and/or get gummy.  I have made one with butcher's tape & it's solid.  For a stand, I used a 1-1/2" dowel as an upright & cut so that the dummy is the same height as I am, screwed large L-brackets (that you'd use for shelves) to the bottom for the stand, & nailed a piece of wood across the top for the shoulders to sit.  Then I filled the whole thing with spray-on foam caulking & let that dry.  Then it's solid & doesn't swing.  You can cover the dummy with a long knit sleep shirt (tight-fitting) or make a tight cloth cover with a zipper (as another poster did) & you can pin on that.  Making your own dummy is really the most accurate copy of your body.  If you gain weight (as I did), I just added pieces of foam & stuffed them under the sleep shirt in the appropriate places to equal my measurements, as I don't have anyone to tape me up for a new one.  It's a cheap & easy way to have a dummy & only takes a couple of days to complete.


        1. blondielou | | #17

          You could buy an outside cover from Uniquely You (I bought a separate one from them when my size changed) and fit that to you and then make your duct tape dummy to fit you and put that cover over you (if you don't want to make one from scratch).  All Brands.com sells Uniquely You as does other sewing sites.....type in Uniquely You in your search engine.


          I think I just paid $119 plus shpping and handling.....for the foam Uniquely You dummy and I can't see doing without it! 



          1. starzoe | | #18

            I have a question about dress forms. I have had several in the past, didn't use them for fitting but I recently found a Diana dress form at a good price and my general measurements can be set on it. But the really important measurement cannot be changed, and that is the measurement from shoulder to bust point.Most dress forms (and maybe all of them) cannot change the vertical measurements (shoulder to bust, bust to waist, back length to waist). Now that I have this "body" standing in my sewing room, I would like to make good use of it. My bust point is a good 1 1/2 - 2" below Miss Diana's. Changing any of the settings will alter other important measurements, so as far as I can see it is back to the try-on method for placing darts. How do other sewers solve this problem?

          2. Gloriasews | | #20

            You could pad it with fibrefill or foam (under a T-shirt or tight-fitting cover) wherever your true bust sits.  You would have to do it firmly, so that your bust darts are in the right position when you are fitting your garment.  You should try putting your bra on the dummy & filling it with foam or fibrefill & adjust it so it sits that 1" or so lover.  I always have to shorten my patterns about an inch in the upper area of the chest as my upper bust is always smaller than the usual pattern for my size.  I am short-waisted, too, so the only way I could get a dummy to fit me was to make the butcher's tape one.  It was well worth the effort.


          3. starzoe | | #21

            I did consider that, but it is not going to help as the bust on the body will be above mine. That's going to skew everything from my dart point up. After having sewn for about 69 years without the dress form I am not about to start using the dress form for fitting. It will be okay for skirts and loose tops without shaping. It is perfect for photographs of my knitting projects, and with some draping if I can raise the shoulders and ignore the waistline!My grandgirls will have a great time draping on Ms D., a much better model than ol' skinny and short Barbie.

          4. Gloriasews | | #22

            Too bad that idea won't work, but, as you say, you still can use your mannequin for displaying your projects, draping, etc.  Maybe you'll just have to make a butcher's or duct tape double after all so that you can use it for fitting.  After all those years of sewing, though, you probably can fit yourself quite well by now, eh?  Another thought - could you not pad your dummy under the bust enough to mimic your own?


          5. starzoe | | #23

            I might give that a try and I am definitely going to raise the shoulders an inch and a half. That would put off the back neck to waist measurement but I could get the darts fitted first and then take out the shoulder padding. Now isn't it convenient that I kept all those large shoulder pads? I've found lots of uses for them, and this is another.

          6. sewelegant | | #25

            Your problem with the bust point on the dress form is one I have struggled with too.  On another thread concerning dress forms I described making a satisfactory mannequin by sewing up my sloper, putting it over an old uniquely you form that was too small and padding it out.  I used a good fitting bra and that was good, but I was never happy with how the lower bust point altered the shoulder line and the neck and when I outgrew the form it went into a closet.  I dragged this out the other day and am thinking I may shave off the foam "bust" and let the sloper hang where it should off the shoulders.  Maybe your idea of building up the shoulders would work better.  I am 69 so I haven't been sewing as long as you, but I still dream of the possibility of having a dress form that is ME so I could see the sense of the alterations I need to make.  

          7. Gloriasews | | #28

            Those shoulder pads might just be the trick!  Also, raising the shoulders could work, too.  Necessity really is the mother of invention, eh?


          8. starzoe | | #29

            My thoughts exactly.

          9. fiberfan | | #26

            Set the dress form's measurements so the bustline is less than your upper bust measurement.  Make a cover that fits you snugly.  Put a bra that fits on the dress form and pad the form so the bra fits the form like it fits you.  Then put the cover over the bra and pad the cover so the cover fits the dress form snugly.

            I have a lower bustline than my dress form.  My dress form is smaller than I am and padding the form has worked great for me.


          10. starzoe | | #27

            Thank you for the solution. I hadn't thought of that. Ms D looks so perfect standing there, it will be a shame to change her measurements to match mine! I'll toss a length of fabric over her when she isn't on the job. Thanks again.

          11. Gloriasews | | #19

            Glad you like your dummy.  You're right - everyone needs to have one, and, it you can afford to buy one & the covers, that's great!  Happy sewing!


  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #5

    A while back I posted some photos of my "sewing helpers"
    look up post # 7035.1 and look at the difference between the two forms, then decide if you need to do a duct-tape double.
    I have lost weight since then and will probably do a new form this summer.
    Happy sewing,

    1. User avater
      Balencia | | #11

      Thanks for that but how do you look up old messages - I put that numbers in search and nothing came up.  Do you do your duct tape buddy via looking at threads issue or by advice in a book? LG

      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #13

        Click on Advanced Search then scroll down to the box for entering a number; that should take you to the right post.I had several different sets of directions, there are some on the web, even on the Threads site I think. You will need a close friend (or willing husband) to wrap you up in tape and cut the back to let you out!My duct tape double is stuffed with fiber fill from some old pillows that had gone lumpy from too many washings. If you want to pin directly on the form, you will want to sew a cover of some kind. I didn't get the bust right the first time, so I put one of my old bras on her and stuffed it; so I have those straps to pin into.

        1. User avater
          Balencia | | #14

          Sounds like a good option - will look into that. thanks but still cannot help thinking I would like one of those mannequin's in my sewing room! a nice antique one or something but they are so expensive so I will stick with your great idea.  thanks again.  When you say you used fibre filling is that just for under neath the tape or to completely fill the hollow?  and what did you stand it on? LG

          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #15

            The basic idea is this:
            1. wear an old T-shirt , the longer the better (it becomes the under layer of the form)over a bra that fits well and panties.
            2. have some one tape you up; several layers in differing directions for stability.
            3. mark the final layer of tape with key points, like shoulder point, waist line (all the way around), and a horizontal "balance" line as low as possible and a set distance from the floor - you will use this line to make sure your form stands with the same posture as you stand! You also need a few "registration lines" on your back (horizontal) so that when you are cut out of the tape (cut through all layers of tape AND the T-shirt) you can re-assemble the back "seam" correctly.
            4. tape the back "seam" together matching the lines.
            5. close up the neck and arm openings (differing ways to do this)
            6. stuff from the bottom (completely fill inside)I think the old posts have some info on how to mount on a stand, or I could e-mail you more complete info on what I did... running out of time right now... must run...
            BeckyEdited 3/28/2008 8:07 am ET by Becky-book

            Edited 3/28/2008 8:08 am ET by Becky-book

          2. User avater
            Balencia | | #31

            Thanks for your explanation Becky-book - will try this out and will be glad to let you know if it works - thanks again.  Do you have a few in different sizes or just your size? LG

          3. User avater
            Becky-book | | #32

            I have one My Double (commercial form) that is adjustable in the usual dimensions... bust waist hips and neck... but posture is perfectly straight and no "shoulder issues"! "Rosie" is helpful when I work on things for some of my friends, but was not as helpful as I had hoped with my fitting issues.
            The duct-tape double is (or was) ME with all my bulges and "issues". I have lost a little over 30 pounds over the last year and so some of the bulges are less of a problem, but posture and shoulder slope issues will remain no mater how much weight I loose! I think my Mom will help me make a new "ME" form this summer, after all the excess weight comes off!!
            I hope your duct-tape adventure produces a helpful "fitting assistant"

          4. User avater
            Balencia | | #33

            Hi, yes I have bought the duct tape but also found a cheap mannequin for £16 today in "Au Naturel" that is a cheap sort of seconds shop found in Britain - it is sort of black metal swirls on a stand and I thought perhaps I could do the duct form and place it on the form to get a more filled out body.  At the moment though I am tiling my kitchen so sewing is taking a bit of a back seat although did the hem on my skirt that I made with material I found at the sewing exhibition I went to last month (used velvety material for godets in a plain Black crepe material - quite pleased and have purchased a nice top and light pink cardy to go with! as well as a Lola Rose pink bracelet  (guilty of spending way too much)  - hope can get some overtime at work!  LG

          5. User avater
            Becky-book | | #34

            The black metal form sounds like it would be a good support... if it is smaller than you, consider wrapping the metal with something to help the duct tape keep its shape (not collapse due to emptiness inside).

          6. User avater
            Balencia | | #35

            Hello again - got Izzy's dad to wrap me in duct tape but it took so long trying to cut the tape that it was 1.30 am in morning and had only done first layer so he gave up and left me stranded so I had to cut up the front and spoil it but a freind said she would help me do it properly next time but I wasted a whole reel of tape nearly!  Looked funny though running around the house in duct tape  begging him to cut me out - had to cut up the front as I said and then I tried taping up the front - wonder if salvagable? checked to see if would fit over metal body but the hips were a lot bigger on the metal body!  Dramatic event that was!  never say die though and I will try again. 


          7. User avater
            Becky-book | | #36

            It might not be a total waste... if, when your friend is available for a long afternoon, you can slip back into the 1 layer and have it re-taped in front then proceed with 2 more layers.
            Sorry to here the metal form is bigger than you need!

          8. User avater
            Balencia | | #39

            Yes that was a silly mistake but I like looking at it and have it adorning my bedroom corner instead of the sewing loft!  I even have started hanging jewellry on it!  I have a plant stand that I can fix the duct form on to and will try that procedure you kindly described and stick in on top of my plant stand.  thanks again. Are you keeping busy with any project at mo?  How long have you been sewing? I bet you have already told me - if so I will check past emails.  What is your favourite material to work with - depends on the item of clothing make I know.  Just past a wedding garment shop and saw the loverly satin with beads - I would love you have a go with such fine beautiful material - oh must go , got to play tennis - LG

          9. dollmarm | | #37

            OH me, I just have to say that visual of you running around taped up is comical to say the least even though I know 'ruff'; esp.. when left stranded for you to get yourself out. I had  thought of asking my hubby to help me w/ this and now I have second thoughts (teheehheeee) Several years ago - he purchased our Food Saver and went cragzy vacumm sealing everything and I told a friend that one she was going to see me all sealed up - not knowing he was right behind me listening and shaking his head ! Good luck with your friend and hopefully not all was a loss :~) I like the attitude - try, try again ! :~)

          10. User avater
            Balencia | | #38

            Yes I was a sight and half - looked like someone from space 1999 - if your old enough to know that programme from many years back!  I would be pleasantly surprised if my partner Nole took an interest in preventing food going off!  but no such luck he would rather be building a den for his ferrets - he has two!  and has made a big runway with two little houses for them cause I would not have them in the house - as lovely as they are - just worried about the mess! 

            I will probably get around  to getting help from my freind to help with the taping procedure but it will have to wait now as I am making summer dress for my little one so won't need it probably til autumn now.  Are you sewing anything at moment?  LG.

          11. dollmarm | | #40

            Teheeheee :~)  I know it wasn't funny for you ! My daughter had ferrets and oh I know what they are like.  She bought all the cages and etc... for them...  Even with the best bedding and littler stuff they still have this odor.  Plus she had a cat that sported a 'tude. Sad to say both ferret and that cat died and now she has another cat, hubby and a baby on the way.   They want a dog but... that is just another mouth to feed so they wait for now.

            As for the space stuff - I watched the original LOST IN SPACE - so which creature did you most look like ?  ( I sorrie - tiz funny though after the fact) We females do get ourself's in the most interesting fixes, so my hubby says.  I start these projects and then have to have help to finish.  I love to re-arrange a room.  I use to get my daughter until she moved on.   I try to get our son, whom is Autistic and some trys' are good and some are not.  When the focus is off - it can takes us double the time.  I leave his room, bathroom, living room and kitchen the same. He likes same same !

            I have this large great room where half is the exercise/tv/reading room and the other half is the craft/sewing room.   "Well we have those exercise large cushioned squares that inter-lock with each square - on a portion of the floor and ever so often you have to pick them and clean out from under them, so this morning I started and I have half the room still a part ! But that is not the worst of it - while waiting for that floor to dry I started cleaning in the laundry room and - you guessed it - I am re-arranging it too !SO I have a double mess.  MY laundry room is huge and I have great storage space in there.  I had several ideas going on in my head so I couldn't decide on just one.  I  had it half decide and then realized I needed to get some veges' from the store so off to the store and then grabbed Chinese for dinner.  Tomorrow will bring a fresher mind and I should get it completed.  My hubby has been working on a townhouse that our daughter moved out of and we are remolding it to sell.  Tired of renting this one out. 

            As for Crafts - I have several projects going.  I am starting a Counted Cross-Stitch birth announcement for my 1st new grandbaby. (this news still has not sunk in)  The baby is due the end of May/first of June.  They will do another scan next week to get a better idea of a due date. I have opened a box that has several things I saved from my kids birth and have them washed up and getting them ready to send to my daughter.  The Cross Stitch is an old kit and several of the floss colors are so so close it is hard to decipher one from another.  SO I called DMC to email me a conversion chart for Anchor to DMC.I have a Rubbermaid long bucket full of Anchor floss that I bought when we lived in India about 13yrs. ago. 

            I would love a sewing bubby.  That would be so much fun.  I hope to one day find a class at a fabric store and meet some others who sew and or cross stitch.  Enjoy, :~)


          12. User avater
            Balencia | | #41

            Thanks dollmarm for your lengthy reply - do you live in America?  I must get into the habit of reading the personal column for members of this chat group but have not yet.    Well, can't actually remember characters of the space 1999 programme just vague memories of silver type clothes!  I was probably more into the clothing than the characters!  hence my interest in fabric I think  - but expensive business I feel. 

            I hope you find a bubby - that is mannequin?    Do you not have them over your way in the shops? 

            Autism - is that when the child tends to want to do everything their way and find it hard to compromise ?  bit like me !  My daughter who is 4  is starting to show signs of a particular type of character now - a month before her 5th bday - we were out yesterday and she started dancing with one hip going in and out singing and could not stop even though I stated it was getting a bit monotonous but she did not seem to be able to stop herself - bit worrying really!  but she is lovely - have to get her down dance school I think.  Keep in touch. 

            LG x.


          13. dollmarm | | #42

            Whew - sorrie to be so lengthy.  I am a fine detailed person. (gift of gab)

            Yes I am American born in Atl. Ga and traveled the world when I married and now we are in Va. I do have a Mannequin - I think she has been referred to a Rosie - she has dial at the sides of her bust,waist and hips.   Haven't used it much though hope to soon this fall.  I have baby stuff to get ready ! :~) I would like to find a sewing buddy.  My daughter was for a while.  She lives about 10 hours away farther south.  Both of our families live father south too.   We moved back to this state after being overseas.  We had planned to be here about 5years and then move closer to family.  Now that our daughter has moved closer to our families - we are re-thinking our time here.  The market is not good for selling homes at the moment and we have many remolding ideas to do to gain a better profit. As for your daughter I would look into dance classes.   Have her tested - food allergies/ chemicals and even smells can change a personality.   Have you ever heard or read "Is this my Child", by Dorothy Rapp ?  She is great and shares a lot of insight.  

            We have seen some great changes for the best with many food changes and eliminations.  He was tested for dyes and chemicals and found to be allergic to so so many.   There are many differrent sign of and tendencies of Autism - from the mild to severe. Thank the LORD - his is not severe.  There are many webites for more studies and again ck' with the dr. to make sure what you are seeing.   A mother has greater insight  than dr.'s  give us credit for. 

            Take care and enjoy and let me know whatcha' find out :~)


    2. dollmarm | | #24

      Hey thanks so so much for those pictures - I checked them out and I have a Rose

      I got her on Clearance @ Joanns.  She does need padding and I like your way and the color you used.  Sometime I get spooked when I see mine in the dark room Most of the time I have this head form on top with this really floppy hat I like to wear when we spend the whole day out at the 4th of July festivities. I usually have her dressed in an outfit or right now I have a long play jacket for my son on her that need repair.   When the light shines right from the window it is like some one is standing there - you know like that mannequin in  those 'Home Alone movies.  teeheheeeheee  :~) 

      I guess you do have to play with it some for no one form gets the bust just right.   Like the idea - I will have to share this idea and phots with my mother in law in Ga.  she sews alot and like new ideas.  She works on quilts more though.  

  3. Beavette | | #7

    About 17 years ago I was browsing old antique shops in the California Delta and I came across an old adjustable dress form from the 30's...It's smallest size is about a 10 - 12..."the perfect 10" of the past, but it can expand every direction, up to about a size 28+. It is so valuable for my shop, because I can set it to fit my plus size customers. Which makes for better fitting garments and less fittings. I would love to find one like this for smaller sizes, because I am about a size 4 so I can't use it for myself or smaller customers. I paid $15 for it, and I haven't ever seen another one like it. Keep your eyes open, you never know where or when you will stumble across a true gem like this.
    Happy sewing!

    1. User avater
      Balencia | | #10

      I will bare that in mind Beavette, will look around and hope for some idea to spring to mind as trying on garments and trying to arrange the hem and sleeves is a nightmare without another hand or doll.  You own a shop then? Are you as small as me then  - I am petite - is 4 Americana about a 10 in English standard?  I have to have 8 petite trousers!  nice to meet you - or rather hear you.  LG.

      1. Beavette | | #16

        Nice to hear you too, :)
        I do own a custom sewing studio and sew for clients. I am not sure what the English/English sizing is, I guess am small, American size 4 is a 28" waist. But gravity is not my friend and I have to constantly work on staying small...bike riding and Jazersize are my non-sewing pastime activities.

        1. User avater
          Balencia | | #30

          Glad to hear from you again. I play tennis to try to keep fit although doubles often means you stand around a lot and never really get your pulse racing.  I have never heard of the other exercise you said you did jazersize  - what is that?  Did  not scroll back to see spelling - sorry.  I am thinking of making a mannequin using duct tape shortly - do you think that is a good way to acquire a body for trying clothes on? LG

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