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October 25, 2017 7 min read

So you have finally purchased your first dress form. You’ll soon discover how wonderful and easy it is to sew when you have a dress form.It helps you get a more enjoyable sewing experience, and achieve amazing results, which look professional. You can keep it next to your sewing machine, ironing board, or anywhere you consider it could be helpful.

When you make garments, a dress formis essential, and there are many ways that you can use it. Whether you are a beginner or a professional dressmaker your new dress formis ready to begin your new assistant. Here we will present you some of the ways you can use it.


Multiple uses

  • Check the drape of the fabric. This way, you can easily see whether the chosen fabric is suitable for the pattern you want to use.
  • Fit a tissue pattern.
  • Mark hems.
  • Determine the position of collars and lapels.
  • Check the placement of darts, buttonholes, and pockets.
  • Place trims, lace, ribbons and appliques on garments.
  • Plan or check the positioning for machine embroidery designs.
  • Check the ease and hang of a lining.
  • Check the location of shoulder pads.
  • Pin sleeves in position, depending on the length of your shoulder. Tack in place, so you can then easily machine stitch.
  • Style an outfit by draping fabrics together. This allows you to have a clear image of how they would look.
  • Fit and hang wedding gowns as you sew.
  • Accessorize your outfit.
  • Fit trousers or pants.

Making adjustments

A dress formcan become very useful when you need to make adjustments to your garments. Before you begin adjusting the model to specific measurements, you should increase the body by loosening all the adjusters evenly. When you make the adjustments, you are recommended to work from the hip level adjusters, upwards. This enables releasing any tension on the body, so it will be easier for you to make subsequent adjustments. During this process, you will also get to familiarize yourself with the operating manner of the adjusters of your dress form.

To make the necessary adjustments, you need to first identify the system on your dress form, so you can make the accurate adjustments for the measurements at bust, waist, and hips. For example, there are dress forms with a dial system or with a wheel system. On a dress formwith a dial system, you need to choose the dial you want to set, keep the form steady with one hand, and use the other hand to squeeze the adjuster together. If you want to increase the measurement, turn clockwise until the indicator points to the desired measurement on the outer ring. To lock it in place, release it. If your dress formhas a wheel system, then you need to make adjustments by turning the wheels downwards to increase the size and upwards to reduce it.

After you finish making all the necessary adjustments, use a tape measure to check their accuracy.

Taking your measurements

To create a garment that looks professional and helps you get a fashionable image, you need to get the proper fit and to be very careful when you create the garment. It is essential to have an accurate set of body measurements. You need to adjust the garment to be completely fit your body. You may need to ask someone to help you check and record your basic body measurements. To get the most accurate measurements, you need to pull the tape snugly, but not too tightly, around the fullest part of the body area that you measure.

Here we are going to show you how to take the measurements.

  • Back waist length – measure from the nape at the base of the neck down to the natural waistline
  • Bust – measure straight across the widest part of the back, under arms and across the fullest part of the bust
  • Waist – measure around the natural waistline
  • Hips – measure around the fullest part below the waist.
  • Neck – measure around the fullest part of the neck
  • Skirt length – measure from floor to the desired skirt length
  • Trousers or pants length – measure according to the desired choice

Other useful measurements that you may need when you make garment include:

  • Sleeve length
  • Shoulder width
  • Shoulder to elbow
  • Back width
  • Front chest
  • Outside trouser leg
  • Inside trouser leg

To get accurate measurements, it is required that you only wear your usual underwear when you take your body measurements.

Pad where it is required

Dress formsare designed to accommodate as many adjustments needs as possible. Although some are adjustable, there are situations when additional padding is required in order to get the necessary measurement in a specific area of the body. So if you can’t get the required measurements by simply adjusting the size of your dress form,then you need to use padding to achieve the required measurement. You can use various materials for the padding:

  • Hips and bust – for padding in this area, you can use cotton wool, polyester batting or foam. After you do this, cover the areas with a thin bias cut fabric and pin or tape it in place.
  • Shoulders – it is possible that a shoulder is lower than the other. In this case, you need to build the shoulder area up using layer strips of polyester batting.
  • Waist – you can use thin strips of foam, which you will distribute evenly around the waist.
  • Filling in the gaps – in case you have made widening adjustments to your dress form, attach a strip of wide tape or ribbon to fill in the open areas.
  • Cover – if you want to hide any padding that you have added, you can make a pullover cover for the dress form.For this, you are recommended to use a stretch material.


Choose and prepare your pattern

When you want to make a dress, you should buy the pattern size that fits your bust measurement because it is easier to adjust the waist and hip measurements, than to adjust the bust line. In the case of skirts, trousers or pants, you should buy a pattern that fits your hip measurement because it is easier to alter the waist size than the hip.

After you choose the pattern pieces that you need, iron each one using a warm iron, to make each piece flat and to remove any possible fold lines.

To prepare your pattern, you need to read the instructions, then check each piece by pinning onto the adjusted dress form.Personalize your pattern to your body, by making any necessary alterations.

It is now the moment to identify pattern guides, such as dots and lines, notches, pleads, pockets, buttons and others alike. Pay attention when you make up your new garments, as you don’t want to get them fit too tightly. Decide on the finished length of your garment before you purchase the fabric.

The fabric

When you purchase the fabric, you need to pay attention to its care instructions and make a note for your future reference.

To check the way the fabric hangs in both directions, you need to drape it over your dress form.

Before you use the fabric, press it to remove any creases and folds. Check for any imperfections, so you can avoid them when you cut around your pattern pieces.

Lay out the fabric and pin on the pattern pieces. Before starting to cut, make sure everything is correctly positioned.

Creating your garment

Once you finish cutting out your pattern and fabric pieces, you can begin sewing. Check the fit of your garment as you sew, by constantly using your dress formduring this process.

Pin together the main body of your garment and position it onto your dress form.Make any necessary alterations. You will go through various stages of assembly. To make your work easier, you are recommended to store the garment pieces in position on the dress formto ensure they remain crease free and tidy, so you can continue the work when the time comes for it.

You will discover that your dress formis truly helpful if you need to check that collars and lapels sit properly, sleeves hang correctly, and the pockets are positioned in the right place.

Take up the hem

You can choose between the two types of hem markers: pins and chalk. Each of these types has its individual method of operation. We help you make your choice, by showing you how each of these two types is operated.

When you get to lining a garment, you will once again find your dress formhelpful. You need to follow the instructions on your pattern to cut, assemble and sew the lining and turn it inside out. Place it on the dress formover the garment that you need to line. Make sure it is correctly positioned and pin and tack carefully. Remove the garment from the form, with the lining attached, and turn to the right side out, then place it on the form. This allows you to check that the lining is not pulling anywhere and that it is not visible at hemline, cuffs, and neck. Once you finish checking it, turn the garment inside out and carefully hand sew the lining to it.

General garment care

After you finish your garment, you can put it on your dress formto see how it looks with jewelry, scarves, belts and other accessories that you think you may want to use with it. This allows you to see how various designs and colors work together.

You can use your dress formlike a valet, to get your outfit and accessories ready for a special event.

Your dress formcan be also useful to perform your day to day care of your garment. Place a garment on it and brush, sponge, steam or press it.

If you have garments of a particular interest, such as a wedding dress or a delicate heirloom garment, then you can use your dress formto display it.