How To Use A Dress Form: What’s Your Best Sewing Tool

It's funny how you can get attached to a dress form. I spent years at FIT draping muslins and testing pattern drafts on a certain kind of girl. She was a little worse for wear and tear to be sure, but I understood where the shoulder point was on the ridge above her armplate, where to drop my armhole in a straight plumb line, 2 inches below the bottom of the armplate. I knew the slope of her shoulders, the slight curve of her abdomen. She was threadbare and marked up with pencil and style tape and pins at key points, but she was slender and elegantly shaped nonetheless.

My new dress form 

This year, I walked into my patternmaking class and I found that there was a new girl in town. At the beginning of each semester, we each have to choose a dress form and it was no different with this class. This is the form we will use for the course of the class, relying on her measurements as the basis for our drafted creations. But this new girl was different—curvy, almost plump, where the former dress forms had been lithe, busty rather than small-chested-she was an updated sexy version of the former siren.

Apparently, dress forms are constantly evolving to keep pace with the changing woman. If you compare a dress form from the 1890s to one from the 1940s and 2000, and even 2013, you will see a completely different girl.

I admit that I miss the old girl, and I'm having some trouble adjusting to the new figure. There are even signs asking us not to leave style tape and pins in the forms.You have to reinvent the wheel every time you drape a new garment, rather than coasting on the work of a previous student. Can you imagine? Ah well, time marches on.

To add to your sewing skill, especially beginners, check out the Love Sewing DVDs in the Sew Daily Shop.

Have you gotten attached to a particular sewing tool with a history?  I would love to know!

Happy stitching!







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Sewing for Beginners

About Amber

Amber Eden is the editor of Stitch and She LOVES sewing and editing Stitch and She also loves dance, yoga, iced decaf triple espressos, and her two golden retrievers. She divides her time between Boston and New York.

5 thoughts on “How To Use A Dress Form: What’s Your Best Sewing Tool

  1. Can you make a muslin topper to quickly put on her that you can put the measurements and markings and then take off between your classes? Basically a slipcover for her?
    Probably my favorite tools for the longest period of time (since I started using these both when I was 7-8 years old), so abt. 48 years now are – a wooden toothpick (awl) and a plastic straw (turning device for drawstrings, spaghetti straps, etc…). I also have a crystal toothpick holder next to my machine that holds my toothpick, screwdriver, lint brush and tweezers.