Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dress Form Review (with Discount!)


One thing that readers ask me often is if I can recommend a good dress form. I've purchased most of my dress forms second-hand, so I didn't really have a source to pass on. However! A site called The Shop Company recently contacted me and asked if I would like to review one of their forms. It seemed like a good opportunity since their forms are available online and are relatively affordable. 

They sent me a Professional Female Form with Collapsible Shoulders. It shipped in a large box and was super easy to put together. I had it up in mere minutes.

Here are the things I like about it: 

  • It's very sturdy and balanced, with a heavy metal base.

  • This form is professional quality and has all the marks you need for draping, patternmaking, and fitting: princess seams, armhole plates, side seams, neckline, waistline tape, under bust seams, etc. All these marks serve as guideposts when making a new design.



  • The cage helps get a level hem. 
  • The shoulders are collapsible so you can get garments on and off easily.
  • The side seams are raised so you can feel them through fabric. 
  • It's easy to raise and lower the form with the foot pedal
  • It's pretty! I love the simple linen cover.

  • It has a butt!

  • The cost is great. At $225 (plus a discount with this post, see below), this is a professional form at an accessible price. For comparison's sake, a Dritz dress form is $260 at full price, though you can often get 40% off with a Joann coupon. Still, I would recommend saving for one like the Shop Company sells. The Dritz forms aren't very sturdy and they lack the marks needed for draping. On the other end of the spectrum, a Wolf Dress Form (the highest-end brand) is $850 for a similar form. I have a vintage Wolf, and I feel that the Shop Company form is close enough in quality that it's an excellent affordable choice. 
I did a little draping on the form in my lovely blue velvet to show you the creative potential of designing on a form. 


Fun!

On the flip side, here are some potential reasons this form might not work for you: 
  • Pinnability. (New word alert!) This dress form can be pinned at a side angle only, through the top linen layer only. This is standard for professional dress forms, but some home sewists look for forms that you can pin straight into. If that's the case, you might want to consider this fully pinnable dress form. It's cheaper than the professional form, but you miss out on some things like the collapsible shoulders, metal armhole plates to mark the armscye, and the cage bottom. It also doesn't raise or lower. I would recommend going for the upgraded model and learning to pin sideways--it comes naturally at a certain point. 

  • Size Range. My measurements put me at a size 12 dress form, and it's quite close to my figure. This range goes up to a size 20, which may be limiting for plus size sewists. 
  • Adjustments may be necessary. It's unlikely that any form is going to match your figure exactly. In this case, the hips are flatter than mine, so I'm going to need to pad the form. The best way to do this is with batting, which you can cover with a spandex tube. Then you'll need to transfer the forms marks to the outside with twill tape. (Hey, I should do I post on this, huh?) Anyway, my point is that it's not one of those forms that promises that you can adjust it to your exact size in no time flat. (And, for what it's worth, I have one of those forms and found the quality to be lacking.) 
Overall, I would highly recommend this form. It's a serious professional form at an affordable price. If you're looking for something that will help you design and drape, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to you. If your primary focus is fitting/replicating a hard-to-fit figure, then this may not be the form for you. In any case, I hope this review helps answer some questions about what to look for in a dress form. 

And finally: The Shop Company is offering 10% off their dress forms to my readers. Use the code TSCgiveMe10%off on the shopping cart page. Thanks, Shop Company! 

60 comments:

  1. I badly need a new dressform so must look into these.my current dressform has developed a tendency to lean badly!!

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  3. I scored a free(!!!!!) adjustable form, and I have to say that unless you're fairly standard sized, you're still going to have to pad it. Mine has hip, belly and butt padding, as well as wearing a stuffed bra because having it set to my smallest measurements meant it was three sizes too small. A good starting point though, and helpful for those (like me) who change weight/shape often.

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  4. Say, thanks for posting a dressform review. While I admit taht I'm relatively new to the sewing blog arena, I haven't seen very many reviews like this out there. :) Now I have an idea of what to save my money for!

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  5. Thanks for the review. My current dress form is a little wobbly. Getting a great sturdy base is a huge plus! I will consider it when I'm ready for the upgrade.

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  6. I'm fairly certain that this is the same dress form I purchased. Her name is Ethel-Anastasia von Beaverhausen. It's great, but occasionally needs some oiling to keep it from screeching when turned around on the post. Second, the up/down adjustment stopped working, so if you have any tips on resetting this function I would be really grateful!

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  7. Oh, nice! Do you know how long is that discount code good for?

    I have an adjustable Dritz that more or less gets the job done, but I don't like how wobbly she is, or the big gaps when she's opened up to my size. I'd have to pad this pretty dramatically to my pear measurements -- does anyone know of a great resource on doing that?

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    1. Err, how long that code's good for, minus that stray "is" (and ignoring the preposition at the end...). You know what I mean. :)

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  8. OMGoodness Praise God!
    Really???!! I have been looking for a form and even though I really want a Wolf or Superior one, this is PERFECT. I can pad her and not feel too bad about the cost. This was seriously timely.

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  9. Do you think it is possible to add 6 inches by using padding to the hips/butt region?

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  10. And yes. How long does the discount last?

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  11. I'm not sure which size to get - the 8 is .5" smaller on my measurements and the 10 is .5" bigger, I know normally you would get the smaller one and pad it probably, but for draping stuff do you think it would be better to get the bigger one and have ease built in?

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  12. The form linked to only goes up to size 12. Did you mean to link to a different form?

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    1. Hi there. We do carry the form Gertie linked to up to size 20, however, our larger sizes are out of stock for the next three weeks. Please visit back then!

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    2. Thanks for the reply, it's good to know you respond to your customers. I'll check back next month.

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    3. Thank you! We pride ourselves in our excellent customer service. If you ever have any questions regarding our products, chat us from our site, and you will receive a reply in no time! Looking forward to helping you choose the perfect dress form :)

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  13. Hi, Gertie,

    I'm nearly 6 ft. tall. Long-waisted, long legs, etc. Can the form be lengthened so that to extend the distance from shoulders to waist? Thanks much,

    Rena

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    1. Ummm, delete "so that"...

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  14. I have this exact dress form and I love it! It's great to use while working on a sewing project and looks polished when displaying finished garments for photos.

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    1. Wow, I wish, I wish I could afford one!!! I can just imagine it as you have stated. Perfect for product photography.

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  15. When I go to the web site, none of the dressforms are available in a size larger than 12. Wish that was me but it is not. If we call would they have the larger sizes do you think?

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    1. Yes! We do carry the professional form in larger sizes, however, they are out of stock for next three weeks. Please visit back then :)

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  16. Is there a form you recommend particularly for a sewist with a seriously short-waisted body? I find I need to cut off the top two inches of any skirt pattern I use, and alter waist length on dress patterns in a like manner, to even begin to get a garment that fits me. I have a dress form but can't alter the waist length. Thanks!

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    1. This is my exact question as well! Really hoping to see an answer pop up. I am also very short-waisted and have always hesitated purchasing a dressform because I am unsure if you can pad/alter a form for short-waisted??

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    2. I'm not sure either! I wonder if you can buy a petite form? I'll see if I can find anything out for you.

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  17. I don't have this exact form, but it seems like a pretty similar one, I'm still learning how to use it, but it's so handy to have and makes fitting 1000% easier. I've padded it out using a sloper pattern from Butterick and I'm so happy with it.

    Lisa Carver: definitely go for the smaller size and pad out - it actually gives bonus 'pinnability' to the form. I'm a large bust size so I added a bra to it too. You can see my process here: http://brownpaperpattern.blogspot.com/2013/04/butterick-5627-fitting-shell-dress-form.html

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  18. I've always been afraid to purchase a dress form because my hips are two sizes bigger than my waist and bust measurement and I am long waisted. Have you ever tried the Fabulous Fit forms http://www.fabulousfit.com/st34.html? I was considering getting one, but they are more expensive than the one you reviewed and I am not sure if they are worth the extra money. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, I bought one several years ago and I'm not a fan of the form itself. I can go into more detail if you want to email me. However, I see that you can purchase their fitting system separately, so that might be an option in conjunction with a professional form like the one I reviewed. Hope that helps :)

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  19. International buyers do not dismay, they have an eBay store which ships everywhere (at least to Australia , where mine will be going :D)

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    1. oh thanks for posting this, it was my question exactly!!!!

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  20. Cool, I'd really like a fancy form! Since I don't have the spending money for one, I made one by getting someone to wrap me in paper tape, which is a super cheap alternative.It works really well, and replicated my figure quirks so it's awesome! (I made a tutorial on my blog- shameless plug). I loved seeing your draping. I'd love to play with that!

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  21. this is the exact form we use at school. they have a whole fleet of them. very nice to work and learn to drape on. wheels need wd-40 fairly frequently to avoid awful sweaks.

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  22. Aaaahhh! I saw this dressform on The Art of Dressmaking and I immediately bought one. The Wolf forms at fashion design schools like I went to are usually an arm and a leg, but this looks exactly like a Wolf form! I'm beyond excited for mine as I also got the one with collapsible shoulders. Looking forward to draping on it when it arrives this week! My current dressform is an absolute mess!

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  23. Just a friendly FYI: The form you recommended for pinnability (great new word btw!) has removable magnetic shoulder pieces. So that makes it a little closer to the nicer model. :0)

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  24. Thank you, Gertie! Wonderful review. THIS is finally going to be the year I get a dressform, I have already decided. I have wanted one for years.
    My only issue is trying to decide if I get a cheap adjustable size one or buy a good small one and create slip on padded sizes (yes this probably sounds kookoo).
    I am going to use it for creating simple digital patterns and garments for sale.
    I am new to grading sizes, so perhaps I will work within a certain range and size it up or down from there. I will not be doing custom fitted garments.
    Thanks again.

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  25. Two words...collapsible shoulders. Yes please :-)

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  26. OMG! I just ordered this last night (after extensive research) and, of course, I just missed the discount. poo. But it makes me sleep better knowing you liked it!

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  27. Gertie, I'm wondering if it'd be possible for you to do a tutorial on how I can figure out where to put those pattermarking/fitting marks (underbust, princess seams, etc). Is that even possible? Anyway, if it is, I'd love to replicate it on my own cheaper model of mannequin :)

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  28. Gertie, I'm wondering if it'd be possible for you to do a tutorial on how I can figure out where to put those pattermarking/fitting marks (underbust, princess seams, etc) on my own mannequin. Is that even possible? Anyway, if it is, I'd love to replicate it on my own cheaper model of mannequin :)

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  29. What a great review. I have a dress form, supposedly designed to my size. It is and it isn't; as you state no form is going to be exact. I do like this form and price is not bad! Seems to have some good features that I don't have with the one I use now.

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  30. Hi Gretchen! Was glad to see that this discount offer ==The Shop Company is offering 10% off their dress forms to my readers== did not specify only *female* dress forms...so I ordered a Male Dress form this morning. Unfortunately I could not find a place to enter the discount code, but I contacted the comapny by email, and I am sure they will honor their offer :) Thanks to you for bringing our attention to this source, and thanks to The Shop Company for the discount!

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  31. My mother is a larger "sewist" and bought one of these at the Houston International Quilt Festival, and she LOVES it! They really are amazing forms! Highly recommend!

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  32. Do you know the Uniquely You dressforms?

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  33. Gertie you will truly be a life saver if you did a post on padding the form. I have a wonderful dress form at home that gets no use because it's a 16 and I'm a 20. I don't mind the work to pad it, just have no clue how to do it and the tutorials I found left me baffled!

    Thanks as always!!!

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  34. Hi Gertie! Thank you for sharing this! Always on the look out for a nice dress form :) By the way, I am loving your new site.

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  35. This looks like a really nice dressform. Unfortunately, I recently bought one, so I can't really justify getting a second one right now. But it sure is pretty! I don't know why some companies make them in such weird colours, like my bright red one.

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  36. I just bought a Uniquely You dress form. I'm still in the process of adjusting the cover to fit me. I'm really impressed with it. The dressform itself is a dense foam and then you zip on the cover which you've taken in/or let out to fit you like a second skin. You zip that cover on and it compresses the foam to be your shape.

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  37. Never having seen the need for a form in years past since reading the likes of sewists like yourself I have been fiending for one for about a year. Like you I will have to find one second-hand though. I have not a couple hundred bucks to put toward a dressform. Sewing repurposed fabrics and sheets over here. I am ever on the lookout though.

    Thank you for writing this review, Gertie.

    Cheers,

    Lyric
    http://www.sewandcro.com

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  38. Thanks for the resource! I'm always on the lookout for a new dress form.

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  39. Those shoulders are amazing, I have a diana dress form because that what comes in my size (sizeish) but I do struggle with non stretching fabric over the shoulders, sometimes I have to put my garment on the floor and wiggle it up. I would love collapsible shoulders. .http://helloushandmades.blogspot.co.uk/

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  40. This is excellent and in my price range, thank you so much for sharing this! Since these forms are for an hourglass figure, and I'm more of a pear, I'll just need to pad mine out a bit. I'm sure I'll like this much more than the flimsy Dritz one I had a few years ago and sold on Craigslist!

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  41. This is a great post. I really need a new dress form and will take time to check this company out. And yes, yes, would love to read a post on adjusting fit of form and transferring marks with twill tape. Thanks for sharing :)

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  42. Thanks gertie! I've been looking for a dress form for months, but it's just such an investment I haven't dared to go for one yet. This one seemed perfect. I got as far as the check out and they only ship to Italy for an extra 150$! Any idea who sells these in continental Europe?

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  43. I just bought this form a couple weeks ago and love it. I do have one problem though. When I raise the body it won't stay up on the pole but rather slides slowly down . I think a put it together correctly but feel that maybe there is a part missing. There is nothing to keep the body from sliding down the pole. Anyway, do you have any idea what might be wron?

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  44. Hi there,
    I just bought this form and love it except for one thing. The body of my form won't stay up if I raise it but rather slides down the pole. I think I put it together correctly but maybe not. What is supposed to keep the body from sliding down? Maybe I'm missing a part? Anyway, I would appreciate any suggestions.
    Thanks

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  45. I would love to have a dress form - I appreciate your review of this one. I love making my own clothing, but don't always (or often) have someone to help with pinning, etc. I recently designed a pattern for snow skirts, and having a dress form would have helped so much! Might look into getting one of these. Debby

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  46. On your recommendation, I got the dressform today and I am thrilled. The ShopCompany is wonderful to do business with, too. Also thank you and your mom for signing and getting your book to me... I also got your latest patterns.. You are terrific!

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  47. Perfect review! I've never been on your website before, but I had been scouring the internet for reviews on professional dress forms. I came across your blog on Pinterest of all places!

    It is 2/3/14 and the discount code 'TSCgiveMe10%off' worked for me! I got a size 2 collapsible dress form for my vintage store (www.swellfarewell.etsy.com / www.fifthavenuestarlet.etsy.com) as I have a multitude of vintage dresses that have metal side zippers and are nearly impossible to get on a dress form without having collapsible shoulders. SO! Yes, used the 10% off coupon. It in essence gave me 'free' shipping ($22.99 or thereabouts discount)

    wahoo! You're the best! thank you so much!

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  48. Gertie, this was an excellent review! I've searched everywhere for the different features you had photos of - thank you so much!

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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