Thinking about The New Butterick Dressmaker‘s formula for making a dress form (“on which you can try your clothes as you make them”), I found two commercially available dressmaker’s dummies that function this way, today. One is the “Fabulous Fit”, where one starts with a smaller-sized dress form and builds it up with “contoured pads” (which beats 1927’s “tissue paper, cotton rags, or wadding”, in my opinion). The other is the “Uniquely You”, which has two components, a polyurethane foam body that comes in various sizes, and then a canvas cover, much like the 1927 Butterick guide’s “close-fitting lining reaching down to the hips, cut from unbleached muslin, natural-colored linen, duck or similar material of firm, strong quality so that it will not stretch.” Basically, just like in the 1927, the “Uniquely You” has you fit this linen lining very closely to your body, and then pull it over the foam base, where instead of wadding and rags, the pressure of the foam fills it out. The “Fabulous Fit” does much the same thing, with their own patented contours.
Either way, one results with a form the same shape and dimensions of your body, and either way, it sounds like the system has been helpfully standardized for the modern era. The Fabulous Fit is available in sizes up to a 43 1/2″ hip, where the Uniquely You is in sizes up to 51″. Since there is also a considerable cost difference between the two, I went with the “Uniquely You” for my first trial at a custom-fitted dress form.
It arrived very quickly! I’ve read about the…um, supremely curvacious form of these foam bodies, before squishing into their canvas linings, and I was looking forward to checking it out in person. Happily, shipping was incredibly fast, and my “mini-me” did not disappoint.
Er, wait, it’s full sized…so I can’t call it a “mini-me”. “Headless, armless me” perhaps? The feminine, limbless but soon-to-be-well-dressed body that has begun occupying my sewing room. It probably needs a name.
Customizing it is a quite interesting project in its own right. The instructions warn that the fitting process is quite different from fitting a regular garment, so follow the instructions “no matter how much experience you have had as a dressmaker.” I’m okay with starting from basic steps, so I think this might become quite fun.
Just for fun, I tried on the canvas lining to get an idea of how much customization I’ll have to do.
Uh, a fair bit, particularly in the top front, I’d say.
But beyond that, I think the potential is good, overall.
And I admit it’s a fun thing just for goofing-around. (There just may have been some really silly photos in this batch, perhaps.) Also, now if I don’t want to pose in my sweaters for my Ravelry photos, I’ll have something else to use that will show off the shape and fit of my knitted items, even on those days when I don’t feel like personally making a photographic appearance.
The foam part with no lining on it is really not very representative of what the dress form is meant to be, however. This is what it looks like, with its canvas “waist lining” zipped onto it, in its natural state, before the canvas form has gone through any measuring or customization:
It’s perfectly pinnable, and the cover is washable. It gets marked on, as well, though, so that key measurements (like the actual waistline) are the same for all one’s projects. I’ll let you know what becomes of this!