Vintage Sewing

Dress Form Advice Please

May 1, 2010

As a new sewer I do not have all of the specialty items that help to make it easier to sew. I am trying to stay somewhat vintage in how I do my sewing. True to the times so to speak. But I am at a bit of a standstill on a dress, because I can’t fit it properly all by myself. It is a reversible dress and I may have chosen the wrong fabric…but will not give in on making it into something wonderful.
I need a dress form to finish this. Any suggestions on what best to get. I am small on top 32″-34″ bust and have a waist of 27″-29″ depending on how much I want to breath (damn turning 50 has thickened the waistline.) I finish off with a bodacious hip of 38″. So as you can see…I am bottom heavy and want a dress form that will match my shape. I have thought of making one…but it seems hard. This makes me a size 6 in todays clothing and somewhere between a 12 and 16 in vintage patterns. It is all so confusing, but I want my garments to fit. I am also having trouble with the darts (which appear up around my chin 🙂 in some of the vintage patterns. I will need a real pointy bullet bra soon.

Thanks for any help. I f my hubby gets home anytime soon I will add some pictures of the improperly fitting, hanging dress.

  1. Duct tape is good there’re a few good tutorials out there. Be careful in choosing a good tutorial. I have made four previously, some of them end up slouching over time. If you have the resources you can also use plaster, however you have to be very careful with these because they tend to break if dropped. Good Luck!

  2. Duct tape stretches! I made two of them that ended up being much bigger than me, even before stuffing them, before I found out that paper tape was the better way to go. Good luck!

  3. Padding a small dress form may be an option – get a size 6 dress form and then pad out its hips with wadding (remeasure and re-pad it periodically and you'll be fine). This method has the advantage of already being equipped with a stand.

    I've got a spare that would be the right size, and I'd cheerfully send it to you for the cost of the postage but I think you'll find it cheaper to acquire one locally (I'm in Australia :/ )

    Try eBay. It's where I buy mine.

  4. Thanks everyone. I need to think about this. I guess it would be cost effective to try a duct tape/paper tape one and see how that goes.

  5. I made one from Mod Rock bandages (the plaster ones used for bandaging broken limbs) and it was a great success! If you want any tips on how I did it then just ask and I'll elaborate. It was fairly cheap if I remember correctly and it's a solid form to work with.

  6. I did my dressform at a course. Problem with all the tape forms is that they all end up slightly larger than you, you also get a terrible posture if you are doing paper tape, as it takes an hour or two to get properly taped. Your best bet would probably be to do what Judi said, padd out a smaller form. Here is a link to how I made mine.


  7. Thanks so much all of you for the advice. Will try and put one together this week.

  8. WOW- I'm glad I read this thread because there's so many options to make your own! I'm a very full figured woman and didn't want to fork over the money for a dress form 🙂

  9. Hello, have you tried the pivot technique from Nancy Zieman's "Fitting Finesse"? She also shows how to adjust the darts for a short torso which would help you quite a bit. I have found that the technique produces a perfect fit without having to use a dress form. For example, I made clothes for a friend in South America, and everything fit like a dream without a single fitting! Hope this helps, it's a great resource to use with any pattern, but especially vintage ones.

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