I recently shared the story of my investment in a dressmaker’s dummy and the challenge of getting it home from the office. Quite a few of you asked for more details on this investment, as you’re considering your own purchases. So I thought I’d talk through the decision-making process and my conclusions a few days into ownership.
I’ve been sewing for a good 2-2.5 years now. I only know this because I have religiously uploaded photos of every make into a Flickr set. I strongly recommend doing this – it’s such a fabulous aide-memoire and brilliant testament to your sewing journey.
Anyway. As my sewing abilities increased, I would occasionally be aware of how much a dressmaker’s dummy would help. I missed it when I was measuring hems, when I was attaching linings, trying to adjust fittings on my own body and when it just didn’t feel right to drape a make in expensive fabric over the back of a chair.
I decided to take the plunge and invest. This wasn’t an easy or quick decision. You can spend as much or as little as you like on sewing, and the sky’s the limit if you have an open purse (which I don’t!), and I want to think long and hard about key investments. I’m sure that’s true for all of us.
I began watching Ebay listings. My impressions were that even second-hand dummies were going for the best part of £70 or £80. Not necessarily bargains. I tried appealing on Freecycle for a dummy – no luck. I decided that if I was going to spend that amount on Ebay, I might as well add a bit more to the pot and get a new dummy with recourse to the supplier if I needed it.
In the end, I ordered the Adjustoform Supafit Deluxe Dress form from Sew Essentials. They were very understanding when I a) ordered the wrong size dummy, b) had to return it and c) kept missing the delivery man for the second delivered dummy.
What about the form itself? One frustration for me is that I’m between sizes – hence the initial wrong order. My chest is relatively, ahem, modest compared to the measurements for my waist and hips. This means I had to go for a ‘small’ dress form. I’ve never been small in my life! The bust is right for me, but I have to expand the dummy to its full extent to match my waist measurement – and so there are huge gaps between the sections of the form.
Huge gaping holes can be tricky when it comes to making adjustments on your dress form. However, I have seen people put a close-fitting T-shirt or jersey top over a dress form to get around this quandary. Let me know if you have any other tips!
What else? The form is nice and light which is great for carrying it home or lugging it up and down stairs – as I have already done several times. Everything does feel a bit … plastic, though. Sometimes the adjustment wheels get stuck and I worry that one day they’ll snap. The chalk hem marker didn’t work because no holes had been drilled in the plastic feeder to let the chalk dust be ‘spurted’ onto the hem line. No biggie – we have tools that can solve this problem – but still. I don’t want to spend over £100 in order to get a drill out.
What I will say is that my dummy has already proved its worth as I make a dress for a friend. I’ve adjusted the dummy to her size – crucial for checking the fit before hand stitching the zipper in. This also means I don’t have to constantly harass my friend for fittings as I work further into the make.
I think I’ll probably have more to say after another six months living with Zelda. I’d love to hear if any of you have tips about how to get the best from your dressmaker’s dummy and what it can help you do. I’d be particularly interested in tips on getting the bust – size and height! – to match yours. An old bra?
Another step on the journey!