Tag Archives: dress form

Uniquely Me

9 Mar

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.

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The Dress-form

8 Jan

One thing I learned working on my Shift projects was that dear Mr. Worth, of The New Butterick Dressmaker, likely has a very good point when he writes “It is necessary in dressmaking at home to have a perfect duplicate of your own figure on which you can try your clothes as you make them.”

I found it very hard to get the dart size and alignment right on the first try, particularly for the back darts. The trouble is that while I can try on a dress-in-progress and check it out in the mirror for the front side, but twisting around and trying to analyze the back while peering over my shoulder and reaching around to pinch up excess fabric is not always so easy.

For my knitting projects, I made one of those do-it-yourself duct tape dummies, and I find it helpful for things like determining if I’ve knitted a long enough body before decreasing or binding off for armholes. However, the duct tape dummy is a squashy, lopsided sort of a thing, and far less than “a perfect duplicate” of my own figure. For one, duct tape stretches. As soon as I started stuffing it to make it stand upright, it began stretching out of shape. It also squashes, and a bit of pressure here or there easily makes it lose a shoulder or a breast (sad things to lose in the middle of a clothing project, indeed.)

I find The New Butterick Dressmaker‘s suggestions very interesting. In the era before dial-out injected plastic forms covered in flocking, the proposed formula was to buy a dress form one size smaller than your own body, and then sew a muslin form like a tight-fitting dress that fits you closely. Then pull the muslin over the dress form, and pad it out with rags or “wadding”. That way you can customize not just the overall dimensions but also the particular shapes of the various parts of your body, right to asymmetries and unevenness–“prominent hips or a round abdomen.”  I might like to try this.