Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quest for the Perfect Dress Form, Part 1

Back in January, I hit a plateau as far as learning to sew. Fit was giving me some trouble because I have scoliosis and my back is not symetrical. Rather than waste any more fabric on making clothes that didn't fit properly, I decided to get a dress form. It took me 3 more months before placing an order, but I learned a lot on the way.

My first solution was to try to make one myself out of paper tape. But the glue seeped through my clothes and irritated my skin before it had a chance to dry, so that was out. But it's still a valid method, and I know many people were successful, so if you want to try making one yourself check out this article for four different types you can make at home - http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00002.asp

Next, I searched every auction and online store I could find. I started noticing differences in forms, features, and types. I made a list of everything I would want in a "dream form", which was:

  • half legs (or a 3/4 form) because I plan to do swimwear and lingerie later on and I don't want to buy a seperate swimwear form. (Swimwear forms have a crotch, unlike a regular dress form.)

  • must be a Girls size 14 because I have a short waist. I found display forms that came close, but the proportions were kind of weird. (Display forms are a little different from dressmaker forms - their purpose is for displaying clothing, although you can still use them for dressmaking. But their proportions tend to be a little exaggerated, IMO, probably to accentuate the clothing.)

  • collapsible shoulders (not mandatory but would be nice) This makes dressing the form easier.

  • arm attachment (not mandatory but would be nice) Most people don't need arms, but I have trouble with sleeves, so I think it might help.

There were very few forms that fit all these criteria, mainly because 14G size forms don't usually come with half legs. Companies like PGM and Wolf have full-body forms, but having a headless body hanging in my home would really freak me out.

At this point, I scratched "half-legs" off the list, and just started looking for a regular dress form. Somewhere along my searches, I came across the Ronis Bros. website. When I wrote to Josh Ronisky about a regular form, he happened to mention that they can make me a form with half legs even if it wasn't listed on their site. I told him all my other criterias, and he was very accomodating.

I now have my "dream form". :-D It arrived in two seperate boxes. The stand is iron and steel, and is very sturdy. The form is paper mache covered in padding and linen. I'm very happy with the quality and workmanship. I would highly recommend their form, but expect a 6 week lead time for custom forms.

You might be wondering about the asymetry in my back. I did not have them take that into account because it would have been difficult to give them measurements - I'd probably have to fly over there and get a custom mold done. Instead, I got the Fabulous Fit Fitting System to pad out those areas (I will be reviewing that in Part 2, after I have a chance to play with it.)

All the parts


Side details

Front details

Arm and shoulder connector


er1ca k said...

That is so awesome! A headless body form would look sinister in the half light...Good thing you got the model you needed instead of settling for something substandard. I'm excited for you!

khrome said...

I just realized that the full-body form looks like someone losing at hang-man. lol

Thankee!! I'm pretty excited too! :-D

Betsy said...

Thanks for posting this. A dress form has been on my shopping list for a while now. I was looking at the ones that you can adjust the size with a wheel, but a custom made one is even cooler. The ones we have a work look more like yours with the removable arms. How much did it cost? Anyway I had no idea there was a place that would make a custom one, and I think you have a good idea getting one that you can use for multiple things.

khrome said...

Hi B, If you plan on making clothes for a lot of different people, getting an adjustable one is a good idea. But I have heard bad things about certain ones that have dials, so you should look up each brand and see what people have to say about them. The best resource I've found is www.patternreview.com - do a search under "notions" for "dress form". This one was around $800 which is the cheapest I've found of custom forms. (This is pretty much where my stimulous check went. lol)

beckyss said...

Hi Khrome:
I stumbled upon your blog when I did a search for Fabulous Fit "Catch 22" Dress Forms & Fitting Secrets Revealed© book. I bought one of their forms and really love it, but I like the "hang man" look of yours! Did you end up getting the book mentioned above? I couldn't find it on your site, but I enjoyed reading your blog a lot. If you have the book, I'd be interested in your feedback. Nice to cyber-meet you!

khrome said...

Hi Becky, Thanks for checking out my blog! I never did end up writing a Part 2 to this entry which explains why you can't find it. :-) I tend to get distracted by other projects and end up working on something new. Before I knew it, a whole year had gone by! Yikes. But I'm hoping to have more time to play with my form next month.

I did like the book a lot! It went into how clothes should be modified when it looks a certain way on the form, for example if it pulls too much to the front or the back, and explains how to fix it. I consider myself a beginner at sewing so I found it very helpful, but I'm not sure how helpful it would be to someone who has draping experience and knows how to construct a garment from scratch. But one thing I do like is that it teaches you how to work around assymetrical and non-fashion-industry body types, such as spare tires, muffin tops, and bra bulge. You know - average woman shapes! :-) Afterall, we ain't all Twiggy..

So you bought a Fabulous Fit form? I would write to their customer service and just ask about the book. She might just send it to you for free like she did me. According to this page on their site, you should have gotten the book free with your form anyway:


I hope this helps! If you can't get a copy from them, write me at cynde dot callera at gmail dot com and I can 'loan' you mine.

Ms. Sugarplum said...

Thanks for writing about this. I just received my Fabulous Fit Real Form last week and it did not have the modified crotch I was told it would. When I called her, she said the fit would be great regardless. I'm not quite buying that line of thought. Great to know that Ronis makes a modified crotch, too - Wolf lingerie forms are just too expensive for me right now!

khrome said...

Hi Ms. Sugarplum,
Thanks for writing! That is strange that FF delivered something that wasn't what you asked for. Will they exchange it for you? I bought the Fabulous Fit Fitting System to go over my form, and the cover for it was for a standard form. I spoke with customer service and they were very helpful - they exchanged it for a 3/4 cover with arm holes. (I still need to write a review for it - I've been slacking. :-) )

The Wolf forms are great - I originally wanted one of those too. But the price was out of my range.