My custom dressform

No sewing or knitting to show off today – just a version of me that talks less and will happily pose for photos! After more than twenty years sewing I finally own a dressform that’s shaped like me!



So do you need a dressform if you sew?

Well, unless it closely mirrors the shape you’re sewing for, then it’s probably not much use. People new to sewing often tell me they can’t wait to buy a dressform and start creating all the clothes they want (I blame all those draping videos on instagram!) but unless you already match a sample size then you’re still going to have to do some extra altering/patternmaking to make it fit you.

I bought my adjustable dressform after a few years of sewing, convinced that it was going to make everything easy.  No more asking someone to pin a dress on me, or waiting for people to come back for a fitting…just a few turns of the dials and my fitting woes would be over..or so I thought.  Truth is, an adjustable, one-size-fits-all will actually fit no-one.

The back is too straight and the waist/hip curves are too proportionally different to most people I have sewn for. In over 20 yrs and many garments later, the only figure it properly replicated in real life was my petite, hourglass friend who once danced professionally – so not your average girl!

In reality it was an expensive clothes rack that was useful when hemming dresses or pressing coats!

What I really needed was a custom form, but as always I was limited by budget. So I decided to use the form I have, pad it where necessary and then ‘dress’ it with a cotton bodice made to my exact measurements.

My original inspiration for this goes way back to a site that I started reading before I ever discovered hobby blogs – FashionIncubator – it’s a site for professional sewn product manufacturers, and has a wealth of information that can often be applied to home sewing. That’s where I first saw the idea of using cling film to make a pattern .  Then more recently, Kate posted about this same method that she and some friends used to draft blocks. It was just the reminder I needed to get wrapping … aided by a slightly reluctant teenager we used some cling-film and packing tape and then marked waist, neckline etc.


I used the pattern to make a stiff cotton princess-seamed bodice that opened at the front with an invisible zip.  It was tweaked a little to fit my shape, especially my upper back and shoulders, I have very straight shoulders (in comparison to commercial patterns) and I also have a definite curve to my upper back/ shoulders.



I should also mention that I found this blog post on Cloning Couture to be really helpful, and although I would love my dressform to look as neat and professional – I was going the quick and easy route, since I’m using a wobbly adjustable form that could fall apart any day now!

Adjustable form in background


I adjusted the dressform to match my back width and high bust measurements. Then I layered Fleece and wadding to fill in the waist and shape the upper back.



I then dressed it with the cotton bodice, before padding the stomach and backside, and dressed it with a primark stretchy top to keep everything in place!


So there you are now… will it be the start of new couture gowns draped in a perfectly edited, time-lapse video? Or a better dressed clothes hanger for the sewing room…. Only time will tell …! x

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