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January 09, 2017 3 min read

A dress form is one of the best investments you can make if you plan on making clotting patterns. A dress form (also known as a body form) is a three dimensional model of the torso used for fitting clothing that is being sewed or designed. When designing clothing patterns, they can be put on the body form so one can see the drape and fit of the garment as it would appear on a body and make necessary alterations or adjustments.

Typically, dress forms come in all shapes and sizes for almost every article of clothing that can be made. Adjustable dress forms allow garments to be tailored to fit a specific individual, while dress forms in standard clothing sizes are used to make different patterns.

Why do you need a dress form?

Dress forms can be used for a number of reasons. It is almost impossible to properly fit clothing on yourself without a knowledgeable helper, so a body form or dress form is of much help. The following instances will elaborate more about the need and importance of a dress form in fashion design & tailoring:

  1. Designers or dress makers sew sections of garments and then pin them onto the body form to adjust the fit to the particular garment section.
  2. The cloth surface of dress form is designed to hold pins well.
  3. A body form may be a basic ladies size such as extra-large, large, medium or small and it can be adjustable within those body ranges to different sizes. Let's suppose, a woman size small mannequin dress form may have adjustments for sizes between 0 to 6 or 7. A fashion merchandiser would adjust the size to the one that most closely fits her or his display outfit and may pin extra fabric at the back of the form to adjust the fit.
  4. Most of the dress forms are adjustable in size so that they will help designers or dress makers to customize their cloth patterns accordingly.
  5. The dress forms are usually lightweight and may be made of foam, rattan or wire, although most are made from layered paper materials covered with cloth.
  6. The dress forms are also easier for merchandisers and fashion designers to transport than full size the mannequins for travel to designer shows.
  7. Clothing store owners may prefer having some dress forms rather than all mannequins as they are easier to dress since there are no limbs or head.
  8. Because of their 3 dimensional shape, they provide greater opportunity and better understanding in designing by draping method, because we can change or alter the draping styles as many times as we want before cutting the fabric.

Should you buy a dress form?

Now that's the million dollar question. Or more like the couple hundred dollars question. Many people, especially those who has a desire for fashion designing keep wondering whether or not to buy a dress form, especially when they're starting out?

It's slightly far fetched to say that a dress form is a significant investment or that it's one of the things you can skip on. If you're an up & coming fashion designer or tailor, a dress form is one of the must have tools.

A dress form is also worth buying:

If you are a collector: or you simply want a jewelry showpiece or fun clothes in your house.

If you are a shop owner or blogger who needs a prop for taking photographs and styling.

If you want a form to mimic your body so you can use it as a fitting tool.

If you use to draft your own patterns, but still prefer draping as a part of the drafting process, rather than only working with pattern making. This thing helps you to visualize the designing ideas that you are working with.

If you often make very fitted patterns with a lot of design details, and want a dress form to play with the drape of fabric or to assess style lines.

What should you be looking for?

A dress form is definitely worth getting, especially in the above mentioned scenarios. So, if you are serious on buying a body form, look for a form that:

  • Has standard marking for fitting or draping
  • Is pinnable
  • Has collapsible shoulders (that will allow the garment to be slipped off more easily)
  • Can easily be lowered and lifted with a pedal in the base (can be adjusted for your height and great for Hemming)
  • Can easily be turned
  • Can easily be moved on its wheels from one place to another
  • Is sturdy, usually have a metal base

We hope that this article helped you learn a bit more about dress forms. Don't forget to check out our selection of professional dress forms as well!