On Dressforms and Fitting
Brenda recently had a question about dress forms, so I thought I'd devote a post to the my thoughts on them and the other relevant topic, fitting. Here's the original question: " . . . how necessary or how valuable is a dress form? I have never used one but many blog sewers do. How close can a dress form really be to an individuals shape unless it is custom made?"
Well the answer is not exactly simple. I'm going to tackle the last question first. A dress form, out of the box, is very rarely an individual's shape. If it was not custom made for you and your body matches your dress form, please email me your diet and exercise plan. I'd love to know what I'm doing wrong! You can buy adjustable dress forms and dress forms that are in your size range, but they will never be just like you unless you customize them by filling out portions to match your own body. This can be done with batting and foam, then the whole form is usually recovered with a leotard like covering to smooth out the whole thing and make it able to have fabric pinned to it again. There's also the duct tape dress form option, which I won't get into. Just google duct tape dress form, there are plenty of links. That said, I have a dress form in the petite size range, and I can adjust the bust, waist and hips to fit mine, *but* the shoulders are too big and I can't adjust those. As most of you know, shoulders are very important and sometimes the most difficult part of the fitting process for a jacket or bodice. My shoulders are smaller and fitting shoulders on the dress form does not work at all for me.
So now for the first question, are dress forms really necessary? Well, no, but they can be helpful depending on the quality of your fitting help. If you have a friend, significant other or even child that can help you pin and hold a second mirror for you while you tell them where to pin, that's fabulous. Even if your helper could just take digital pictures for you to review, that would be helpful. Many helpers probably don't know what to look for, but at least can take a picture. If you have a blog, posting those pictures can be helpful, as fresh eyes might see something you're missing. This is how I discovered I have sloping shoulders (one worse than the other) - something I would have never noticed until it was pointed out by *several* smart readers. If you don't have fitting help, then the dress form is handy only if it is your body shape - you know how much fun it is take a muslin on and off about a dozen times making little tweaks here and there! Even worse if it is a cold climate, enough said, right?!?
That then brings up a different question altogether - what is my dress form good for if the shoulders are too small? Well, I can use it to fit strapless garments without shoulders. I use it for photographing garments, with a little gentle (ok, not so gentle) tugging sometimes. I use it for looking at the overall effect of garments and embellishments - especially art garments. This is how I was able to come up with the right look for the collar for the BOH coat. I tried out a variety of collar options, photographed them all and was able to look at them more objectively and as a whole garment rather than disconnected pieces. It is also good for fitting garments for clients - sometimes the shoulder part doesn't matter, especially if it is a strapless gown. Sometimes it is easier to work on a gown if it is on a body. Take for example, the brown bridesmaid gown shown below. The client needed it shortened by 5". Not exactly easy to do on the hanger as the gown has a bubble hem, train and the tacked fabric skirt and then needed to be bustled for the reception! Whew, can't imagine what the bride's gown looked like! The job was not an easy one, but was easier to see if I had everything adjusted right when it was actually on the dress form versus a hanger.
Fun with Dots update: I bought the Etsy purse! I didn't have time to go to the antique shop on Friday, but will try on Monday. I have backup earrings chosen on eBay just in case. Yes, they are plain white ball earrings. I'll show you Monday depending on the shopping trip.
Parting Shot: First Easter Outfit. Carolyn had to bring up the first Easter dress I made my daughter. I know I have shown the ensemble before on the blog, but not my daughter wearing it. For a little treat, here she is, about 8 months old in her first Easter outfit.