On buying a dress form

April 24, 2010

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have a lot of fit issues. I have a — let’s say unusually to protect my fragile ego — shaped body, which falls outside of the standard range of pre-made dress form sizes. I’ve anticipated the need to buy a dress form for a long time, and began my search when it was less of a pressing issue than it is now . I had all  but decided on the Uniquely You form, which seem kind of dramatic to fit but appeared to produce the best effect for people with body types like mine, but they are just…not cute. This may sound shallow, but I live in a very small apartment and my sewing space is in my bedroom, so I wanted a dress form that wasn’t scary, ostentatious, or loud…just something I could tuck into a corner and it would stand there unobtrusively, patiently waiting for its opportunity to provide me with a wonderfully fitting garment.

I mean, come on…who wants a dress form that says, “‘Squeeze Me!’ I’m Natural and Realistic!” on the upper chest? It’s just inviting disaster, not to mention unattractive and grammatically incorrect. But I digress.

I went on a hunt…a true hunt. I saw every dress form imaginable, starting with this lovely one from Dharma Trading:

But it wasn’t meant to be…the size 2 is a full inch larger than my measurements in some places. I quickly realized I needed to look at professional forms instead. I found PGM Pro, which is apparently what they use on Project Runway or something.

Easy on the eyes, but also too big. I found Wolf, which are gorgeous, but at $800 obviated the need for me to waste five seconds checking the size chart:

And then I looked at Fabulous Fit, which are lovely forms and priced at around $400, which is certainly the high end of my range, but a jump I was willing to take. They’re also very classic-looking…sort of what I imagined a dress form should look like when I was four. Or what Anthropologie might sell you if they sold dress forms, which they probably will soon.

They have a good fitting system (a set of pads–people do rave about them!) and the measurements were okay, but not perfect: 32-23-33. I just couldn’t see myself paying $400 for something that’s a full inch off in two out of three important areas.

Of course, by this point, I was getting to the weird corner of the dress form market. I found My Twin, which works as follows: you papier mache your body, make a plaster form, hack it open in the designated areas, somehow reconstruct it out of foam, and attach it to a stand. You do this yourself, with whatever chainsaw happens to be handy (see the tutorial here, including a lovely action shot of a person being papier mached by a happy My Twin representative).

So where did all of that leave me? You guessed it…the Uniquely You form. Wolfe was wrong…you really can go home again! I’m ordering it as soon as I can find a willing accomplice and a good way to patch the invitation to squish me indiscriminately.

Truth told, there isn’t anything wrong with it other than its appearance. It’s supposed to be a great form, it will accommodate my measurements (the petite size has a bust range of 29-35, waist 22-27, and hip 29-34), and the price is right (they range from 140 to 160). I’ll be sure to chronicle the fitting process for your viewing pleasure.

Have a great Saturday! I’m on vacation this week and working on a big project that I hope will actually turn out…


4 Responses to “On buying a dress form”

  1. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it goes for you! My one concern about this one (well, and all of them really) is if it’s really adjustable on the vertical (shoulder to bust, bust to waist, waist to hip).

    I agree with you on the looks though – I think I hate the “Pin Into Me” bit the most. What about a cover made of a very stretchy thin fabric? I’ve seen vintage forms that had a cover like that. Me, I’d probably go all sparkly….but there’s lots of options.

  2. Susannah Says:

    Really interested to see how this goes! I still don’t have a dress form — home dressmakers’ options in the UK are limited to about five models, and even the cheapest costs more than a Uniquely You. I attempted the My Twin process using plaster bandage and instructions that must have been written for an Arizona summer rather than a London winter — it was a catastrophe of flapping damp plaster. FAIL.

  3. Tania Says:

    You do know, you don’t have to use the uniquely you shell? you could take some fabric, like swimsuit material and sew a closefitting cover. It will look much neater.


  4. Amy Says:

    i actually have a uniquely you dress form and mine doesn’t have the writing on the cover. you can see pictures over on my blog , http://www.dartandhem.blogspot.com. i wish I could tell you more about it and tell you how much I love it but my feelings are only sentimental as I received mine about, gulp, 8 years ago and hadn’t gotten around to fitting the shell to me and then lost the instructions. I am trying to get a new copy from the company I ordered it from but I think I am going to be out of luck. If you do decide to buy one would you mind sending/emailing me a copy of the instructions? Then we can troubleshoot the fitting process together.

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