Ask CRAFT: Buying a Dress Form

Craft & Design Yarncraft

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Farrah writes in:

My boyfriend was trying to buy me a dressmaker’s doll for my birthday. He finally had to confess total confusion after surreptitiously taking my measurements. It seems none of the sizes he found fit me exactly. Is it better to have a doll that’s slightly smaller than myself in one area, but fine in the others? Are there dolls that I could order to fit my measurements? I know I could make one from duct tape and an old t-shirt, but I hear homemade ones tend to collapse.

Since it’s cheap and fun, I’d try to make your own dress form first. True, they may not be as sturdy as the store-bought ones, but they’re certainly not as expensive! If it collapses, it’s because it’s not densely packed enough with support material. You could try stuffing it with a whole pile of plastic grocery bags to provide adequate filling. Instead of duct tape (or on top of the duct tape), you might try using papier-mâché or paper tape to stiffen the form and make it more durable.

The next level up is to get an a plain form that approximates your measurements. Yes, as you suspected, it’s better to get one that is smaller than your body in some places, but fits you in others. You can always add padding to the form, but you can’t make it smaller. I’m no brand expert, but if you order online, you can expect to pay between $150 and $300 on a one-size form. You can customize your form to make it more like your own body.

The third thing to consider is getting an adjustable form. This is the kind I have, and I’m thoroughly satisfied with it. It has dials at the bust, waist, and hips, and even has an adjustable torso length and neck measurement. It’s not as easy to pin to as a standard form, but I’ve had it since I was a teenager, and it has changed size with me over the years. They come in different “body types,” so check the ranges on the measurements before getting one.

Do you have dressmaker form advice for Farrah? Share it in the comments!

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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