Friday, February 3, 2012

Gadgetmania: Dress Forms and Mannequins by Sew Ruth

Dear readers, this week in Gadgetmania it's all about dress forms. We all (?) know that a good dress form makes the process of fitting and sewing easier and faster! Ruth, our guest blogger this week, is in the process of choosing a new dress form for herself. She has made some research and now needs your help choosing one of the many options. Some of them are completely insane - see yourself!

I used to stand on the kitchen table in my half-made skirts and turn slowly while my husband pinned up the hem. With complete confidence in his decision I’d cut, trim and sew; try on and never wear the skirt in public.

Customers of the haute couture houses will have an exact body double made – I need one of those.


When the Fashion Department at work were having a clear out, there, lying drunkenly and partly obscured behind fraying embroidery projects and garish costumes was Doris. Brown with age, watermarked, frayed around her neck and arms and tattooed about the chest area with a red felt-tip pen, she was indeed a sorry sight. This girl needed clothes and I could give them to her. With permission of a long-term loan, I took Doris home, patched up the frayed areas, put a T-shirt on her and installed her in the sewing room and all of a sudden I was transformed into an atelier at 31 Rue Cambon.


There are still problems. Doris is from the early 1960s but maybe earlier and is 38”, 26”, 36” - real hourglass and sexy – not like me at all. Made by Yugin and Sons, London, I actually think she was really intended for display purposes, not fitting. Below is the Vogue Patterns measurement chart and Doris fits across three sizes (as do I but not the same three as Doris).


SIZE
Small
Medium
Large
10
12
14
16
18
Bust
32 1/2
34
36
38
40
Waist
25
26 1/2
28
30
32
Hip
34 1/2
36
38
40
42

DORIS
DORIS
ME
DORIS / ME
ME

I have been thinking of replacing her. I should have a dress-form that resembles me but which one? I’ve done some research and need your guidance on the best choice.

Top of the Range

Seigel & Stockman make for the French Haute-Couture industry. Their forms can be made to an individual's exact body measurements.



These artist designed models retail at €2.200 and they’re all sold!

The Italian MD Studio produce a range called Manicini – they can provide a snake skin covered version if you want, but I don’t think you can stick pins in it.


If you think Doris’s shape is 50 years old of date, what about a 1895 dress form for those of you who have a 16” waist. This genuine Stockman mannequin is available from http://www.vintagestylemannequins.co.uk/



Kennett & Lindsell, UK, use high tech electronic scans of real people to produce an average dress form for women of the 21st century – including my favourite – the oversized version →



Mid Range Options


This is a Chil-Daw mannequin, made in England. It’s adjustable and a wonderful colour but I’m not sure about pin stickability. She doesn’t have any hips either. You have to buy vintage as Chil-Daw are no longer in business.

Modern and adjustable: this model is PerfectFit from Adjustoform – she even comes with a hem marker too. No more standing on the kitchen table then…

And finally……..
Source
The duct tape dress form – nothing left to say really.

http://sewruth.blogspot.com/

Thank you, Ruth, for this amazing research!

Readers, which dress form do you vote for? I am all for the snake-skin Manicini! as a second choice after the professional dress form, of course! The problem that I see with Doris, is that the bust is fuller than Ruth's. Otherwise, I would have padded the form where it is "skinnier" and continue using it! Your opinions?!

29 comments:

  1. I have to say none of the above unless of course you can really afford the Kennet and Lindsell. I always recommend a Uniquely You form because as you age your shape changes and it can easily be changed as you do. If you want it to look more like a professional form you can make your cover in a nice linen instead of the cover they supply. The professional fit forms come with a padding system and lycra cover which has worked well for me with clients.

    None of these options are as sexy as some of the above though...and who doesn't like sexy?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a custom form from Wolfe, but as Lynne mentioned, the problem with it will be as my body changes. For now, the investment is a good incentive not to gain or lose any weight. However, I think I could use the padding system if I ever need to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly does provide an incentive. But chances are the dress form will need to be padded. If I buy one, I will try to get myself down to my lowest realistic weight.

      It just seems to me that if you want to drape on the form you need the standard reference points and there's no substitute for a sturdy form.

      I envy you your form. Another sewing blogger who seems quite happy with her custom Wolf form is the author of "A Little Sewing." Google the blog's name and "Wolf."

      Delete
  3. Look, these are the Haute-Couture mannequins in Spain for over 100 years. Hope you like.

    http://www.antiguacasaballeste.com/

    Have a good weekend Marina !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paco, thank you for the link! I hope readers in Europe will check it out. I bought my form here and padded it.

      Delete
    2. Thank you for appreciating. I'm going to do a post on this topic in my blog. I have the interview with the director of the factory mannequins. soon !!

      Delete
  4. Those black and white forms are gorgeous! I vote for getting a smaller than you professional style form and padding her out to your size and shape. I got one on ebay and did this. It was less expensive than many of the above options, and less trouble than the duct tape dummy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. i just had to buy a new one because mine was too much bigger than i am--and my moulage-resized patterns (as in, patterns that actually fit me properly) could no longer fit over the non-collapsible shoulders. i got a petite model from dritz. it's not high-tech, but i think she'll fit me better.

    puu

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm American and have no dress form. My plan is to get a form custom made by Wolf in New Jersey when I can afford it.

    As for the forms on display, I have no interest in designer covers, which I find distracting. I'm told that adjustable forms are inaccurate and that duct tape forms are a waste of time. I don't know why Threads persists in running an article touting the latter.

    I know of someone who will pad a dress form for $500, but she's based in New York. You start with a form that is smaller than you are.

    As for forms that are molded to the body, you could Google "MyTwin" for a California firm that David Coffin, a former Threads senior editor, liked, or Google "Jezebel.com" "Jenna" and dress form or mannequin to find a post by a former model who made her own form. It was a very elaborate proces, however.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. $500 just to pad a form may sound like a lot, but this person's other fees were, while not cheap, reasonable, which makes me think that there's an art to doing it.

      Delete
    2. $500 seems reasonable considering how long it takes to make the padding resemble your body! I tried it myself, but it is not as accurate as when someone else does it. The best way to do it is to stand in front of the mirror with the form. Still, quite an effort. I think actually we are talking about the same person.

      Delete
    3. Browser, Have you bought your Wolf dress form since you wrote this post?
      I am in Europe and have been dreaming of a dress form that is collapsible, adjustable height, with one arm and made in America. I am looking at Royal dress form from Ronis for right now. I have been told that it is the same quality as Wolf. The employee Johnathan has been very nice emailing me back to all of my questions. Now I just need to take this leap of faith and my credit card! lol

      Delete
  7. I'd love to get scanned! In the meantime I will continue pinning myself:o)

    ReplyDelete
  8. My roommate at Syracuse Univ. was a Fashion Design major. Her instructor was Miss Wang,as in Vera. My roommate made her own dress form to her own measurements.Designers do not use adjustable forms, nor do they use black and white 'Art' forms. Assuming that you actually plan to use this form for designing and fitting:
    Use a sloper or premade fitting pattern available through McCalls or Simplicity, etc. Follow the directions, making the try-on garment from gingham. Gingham makes it easy to see where adjustments need to be made: where the horizontal and vertical lines go 'wonky.' Make adjustments. Check for fit. Sew garment cut from twill. Making a duct tape form can help fill the body accurately. Pad the duct tape form with foam and polyester, 'poly-fill. Cover with twill 'garment.' Use a dowel or broom stick for the pole. A Christmas tree base can be used to hold the pole upright. Afix the tree holder to a rolling plant base (about $7) to make the form mobile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those fitting patterns are for adjusting flat patterns. The sewer fits the pattern to her body and then has an idea of how to adjust the company's regular patterns. They don't mirror the wearer's body as does a custom dress form. I have a McCalls or Vogue fitting pattern from the 1970s and a more recent one and the shape of the skirt is quite different.

      Conni (?) Crawford wrote a book on how to make a form out of mailing tape. After reading it, I realized I'd have to find a pattern for the cover. The ones she offered were too small. That form, however, is closer to what you have in mind.


      People can do what they like. I believe that experienced sewers who want great results understand the limitations of non-professional forms.

      Delete
  9. Andy's Dressform in the garment district in NYC makes custom and professional forms (similar to the ones we use at FIT) for a very reasonable price. More reasonable than the regular stockman form I got in France (and is still there while I live in the US...) !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FIT uses forms by Wolf, Royal, Superior, Ronis and Alvanon. I'd be wary of a price that's too reasonable. You get what you pay for. I believe that some of the dress form makers offer a small discount to fashion design students. I think it's 7% at Alvanon.

      I've never heard of Andy's, and it's not listed in the FIT Fashion Resource book, which features reliable places that they recommend. The fact that they make forms for the costume industry makes me wonder how the durability of the forms will compare.

      Not saying I wouldn't look into Andy's, but I'd be cautious.

      Delete
    2. I am curious as to your caution in using dress forms for the costume industry. Why should they be any less durable?

      Delete
  10. Hi thanks Marina for hosting me on your blog. Thanks too to those who commented for all the advice and suggestions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. It's an important and potentially very costly decision if you're a serious sewer. Good luck!

      Delete
    2. You are welcome, Ruth! I enjoyed your post a lot, and all the comments that followed!

      Delete
  11. Nice post! Very interesting. I'm drooling over the Seigel & Stockman forms.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I own a Perfect Fit one ( petite/teenager version) - it works well enough, but a bit far from my true dimensions, I suppose, when it comes to frint waste length, shoulder width, etc. still it is handy to have. I find the covering fabric really hard to pin- the pins get cought in the fabric. I might need new pins, or maybe cover the dressform with something more suitable. Drafting paper patterns and altering commercial ones is what I do normally.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have to admit, the link I clicked through to was the vintage Victorian one! Would love to own one of those!

    I have two, my Diana (Adjustaform? I forget who made it), she's been my sewing companion for ten years now. And one of those old, feeble blue ones. Her nickname is Manny and she lives in the wardrobe at the theatrical college I teach at. I keep forgetting to bring her home... oops! For general work, placing trims etc they are invaluable. But despite the fact that Diana is supposed to reach smaller measurements than mine she never does - lack of squidge factor? I also found that because she doesn't have collapsible shoulders, I can't fit strapless dresses on her in my size.

    Talking of which and looking at those vogue measurements, I am the 12 on all three counts, but the last vogue dress I made ended up being cut down all the way to the size 6 and then it finally fitted - like a glove. I'm still perplexed by this and find it very difficult to trust their sizing now. But wow, Doris is evidently meant for girdled girlies...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi, interesting page. We make dummies from body scans... http://www.sharpdummies.com.au/ and they are also soft with a skeleton. They are not averaged like the ones above but we chose a single person from more than 2000 3D whole bodyscans (CAESAR database). The person we chose was in the middle of the distribution. This made our base mannequin. We now make lots of manikins including medical manikins to train students how to detect breast tumors etc. I started out just like your page describes but making plaster casts! We sell for the same price as the mannequins above. 

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  15. It looks beautiful! thank you so much :)

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