Dress and body forms are often thought of as something that is only for professional designers, boutiques, and other industrial textile applications. However, home sewers also understand the benefits of using a dress or body form to both draft and design their own patterns, rather than only using commercial sewing patterns.
Unlike the retail mannequin, a body form offers a more realistic shape than the hard-shell plastic body used to display garments in stores, boutiques, and photo shoots. Also called a form mannequin, sewing dress and body forms can be pinned during design and construction, adjusted as needed, and bring visualization into the pattern making process.
Professional body and dress forms come in specific sizes, except for the adjustable types, which come in a size range. Need to add an inch around the hips or chest? Adding padding to hips, shoulders, or in the chest is easy, and can be changed as you need it.
Scroll down to learn more about working with sewing body forms and dress forms.
For the home sewer, it can be challenging to fit a garment on yourself without a helper. If you’re going at it alone, a form body can help you when making hems and adjustments. You can see how a fabric will look when it’s hanging on a body (yours or anyone else’s), and you’ll have an idea of the fabric’s drape capabilities. For garments in the process of construction, it’s easier to see than working with a garment on a hanger. And many come with hem markers to make it even easier to finish your garment perfectly.
For the designer who is creating and manufacturing their own products, dress and body forms allow for the 3-dimensional research and design of garments. When designing a new pattern, a dress or body form is useful for not only creating but fitting and adjusting before finalizing a design.
Draping is another method of patternmaking design that takes into account elements that are difficult to do with flat patternmaking. Elements like ruching, cowls, and asymmetrics are easier to create when they can be draped, tied, and moved around on a form before creating a flat pattern.
A body form or form mannequin can be used to create a wide range of projects, from wedding gowns to safety clothing and gear. Nearly anything that is stitched can benefit from the use of a form body.
Before you spend any money, you’ll need to figure out precisely what you want to do with it, since there are a few different types.
Will you just be making dresses, skirts, tops or shirts? Will you create a maternity line, or add it to your current design lines? What about men and boys—will you be creating garments for them as well?
Depending on your needs, you can choose from:
Do you know what to look for when selecting and buying a dress form or body form?
If you’re seriously considering buying a body form of any kind, look for one that:
Boutique and shop owners may be more interested in body and dress forms to display both apparels, jewelry, and accessories. Seeing a beautiful dress form in your studio can also inspire your designs or serve as a backdrop for your editorial photoshoots.
Sewing bloggers may also consider a sewing or body form to display their crafts for photos, as well as for designing, draping, and fitting.
For the professional, a dress or body form is much more than a prop; it’s an investment in his or her business.
Dress forms are an essential part of your design studio or toolkit. Your patterns need to be accurate and often replicable, and only an exact dress form can assist with that.
We carry a diverse collection of dress forms for women, men and children, as well as full-figured forms, maternity forms and pillows, small-scale dress forms, and partial forms such as arms that can attach to a dress form.
If you’re considering dress forms for your home or business, you can see and buy our complete collection on our website. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, call us at 1-800-868-4419. We’ll be happy to discuss your needs and help you select the right sewing body form or dress form.