Eons ago when I was a fledgling seamstress my mom brought home a dress form and asked if I’d like to use it for my sewing projects. It was an adjustable blue one that had no stand and was about ten sizes too big for me but for some reason the idea of having a dress form sounded really cool so I said yes.
Except I had absolutely no idea what to do with it. Not having a stand didn’t really help either, especially considering at the time I was pretty much exclusively sewing historical gowns. I vaguely remember propping it up on a stool and just having excess skirt fabric constantly drooping onto the floor. Whoops.
Fast forward to college when I decided it was time to invest in a dress form for realsies. Except I had still never learned how to properly use one and how they can be helpful. I bought a random adjustable Dritz one from Joann’s on sale and pretty much ended up using it to display things like scarves and abandoned WIPs (I think my philosophy was that if I had to see it every day I’d finish it.).
The moral of the story is that when The Shop Company emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I’d like to try out one of their fancy professional dress forms, I pretty much jumped up and down for an hour. (Note: The Shop Company provided me with a dress form for this review but all thoughts, opinions, and stupid sewing mistakes featured are my own.)
I chose this model, which I highly recommend. She’s beautifully made and just looks so fancy. They offer sizes 0 to 20 so you can select one that actually matches your measurements. I was a little between their sizes so I chose a 4, which matched my bust size (but was a little bigger than my waist and a little smaller than my butt). I figure of those three I’d rather have the bust be spot on and the waist be a little looser in case of food babies. Plus the vast vast majority of what I sew are dresses so hip measurements aren’t quite as important to me as the other two.
The model I chose also features collapsible shoulders which is an absolute godsend for those lovely moments when you’ve pinned something just right and then can’t get it off the damn mannequin. You just squash them in and remove the garment! Easy peasy.
Even the stand is fancy! And it’s pretty easy to figure out. I had to enlist Boyfriend’s help in putting it together but I blame an intensive bicep/delt workout that morning that left me unable to lift my arms. You just pop the wheels into their slots, slide the coil onto the pole, the pole into the hole, and then squeeze together two pieces at the top of the pole as you pop the dress form onto it. Don’t worry, the package comes with a sheet of diagrams that does a much better job of explaining it. It took about three minutes to figure out.
Once it’s all set up you can wheel it around, swivel it around, and make raise and lower her just by pumping the pedal. It kind of reminds me of a barber’s chair. Actually, to be totally honest, it reminds me of this barbershop scene from Monkey Island.
You guys. She has a BUTT. How awesome is that?
Anyway, she’s been teaching me all about fit and I am absolutely floored by how simple that cage makes hemming. I usually stick with rectangle skirts so I usually run into some trouble when it comes to making circular skirts even. I tested her out when finishing up the top of my Kaylee dress and it was amazing how much easier it was to fit it when I could just pin it to something that actually had my measurements! I think my days of sewing in my undies so I can try garments on every five minutes have come to an end.
Sidenote: see this photo for some pretty hilarious evidence of previous statement about sad skirts.
Anyway, my new sewing buddy has inspired me to whip out my longest-abandoned WIP (hah. See what I did there?) and to try to finish it as next month’s WIP Confessions. I think this’ll be my only one for next month, since it’s a bit of a doozy. I think I started this one in 2007? Ish? Here’re a few sneaky peeks. Spoiler alert: there are three skirts.
Anyway, thanks so much to The Shop Company for my new friend! And check out Megan Nielsen’s guide to buying a dress form for more information on the different types out there. I highly highly recommend not going the adjustable route.