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).

32 1/2
26 1/2
34 1/2


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

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

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?!


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