Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Meet Bernadette! My Dress Form Review

So, this is a post that I planned on putting up in June of 2015, thus the photos in my old sewing room. Something else always got in the way. Last year for my birthday, my family all pitched in and got me ... a dress form! I know it's old news now since I've been posting pictures using the form ever since I got it, but still. After using this form for a year I figured it would be beneficial to others to hear a review about it :)
While this was a gift, it was one that I chose myself and I did A LOT of research before deciding which one to have them purchase. I come from a small town-ish area, and around here the only type of form you ever see locally is the cheap adjustable ones you can get at Joann's (and I say "cheap" meaning how they are made, not their cost). I've used a vintage adjustable form that belonged to a friend of mine that was great because it was made entirely of metal - sadly it was a size 6 (plus it wasn't mine, lol) so that one wasn't a real option for me. I searched for vintage forms first, but it seems that no one wants to get rid of them. Even if people don't sew with them, they look cool as decor. So, I had to resort to the various new options out there. I read Threads articles and various blog posts about the ups and downs of all types of forms: Wolf, PGM, Uniquely You, My Double, Twin Fit, etc. In the end it was a combination of Gertie's review and Lauren's review that helped me make my ultimate decision: the Professional Female Dress Form with Collapsible Shoulders from The Shop Company.

The Shop Company form is very sturdy in how it's made, including it's heavy cast iron base. It has all the perks you want in a dress form - raised side seams and waist, a butt, a pretty yet basic colored fabric that is pin-able, a neck, a hem cage, etc. I went with the collapsible shoulder model because it seemed the better value to avoid the hassle of not being able to get things on and off the form easily (and believe me I use that feature all the time).
The cool thing is that you just press the shoulders toward each other and they click inward, allowing you to slide your garment on or off, then you just press them together again and they spring back into place. This makes the form perfect for really seeing how things will hang at the shoulder.
The most attractive aspect of this particular form is undoubtedly the price. It has similar features to the higher priced forms (like Wolf and PCM), but this one only costs $269 (plus I got a 10% off coupon, making it even cheaper). The prices of this form is realistically the only way I was able to get it. My family loves me and all, but no one was going to fork over $600 - $1000 on a not-exactly-necessary sewing room item that wasn't a machine, nor would I want them too (there are many other things I would rather spend that kind of money on, let's be real). But in the $200 - $250 range, that changes things. While I don't drape things on my form (though I may one day), it has turned out very handy for other applications. The one that sticks out to me the most is matching up pleats and side seams. I have to alter most every pattern I make up, meaning when I go to sew it up these seams are not always perfectly aligned. I can pin a dress bodice to the top, and strategically pin the skirt to the bodice at the cut edges and then make sure the pleats match the position of the darts. I know this is possible to do without a dress form (I made due before i had one, don't get me wrong), but it is SO MUCH EASIER with a form. You get a real 3D idea of how the fabric is going to lay while pinning. I've also loved having my form for things like adding neckline trim to shirts. For shirts like my Gathered Back Experiment and the Plantain for My Mom, I would put the shirt on the form, then drape the trim around the neckline, then hand sew it in place. This way the trim was sure to have enough ease around curves and whatnot so it does not pull when you wear it like it might if it had been sewn flat.

One thing I've intended to do to my form but haven't got around to is to pad it out to be closer to my size. When choosing a size, I deliberately went a little smaller than my measurements just in case I ever lose weight so I wouldn't have to buy a new form. I knew I was going to have to add padding to most areas on a form even if it had my same bust measurement anyway since my waist and hips are larger than the proportions that they make on standard dress forms. So, seeing something on my form is certainly not a true representation of what it will look like on my body as yet. I've had so much going on in the last year that I just haven't wanted to devote the time to it yet (just like I say I will set up and learn my old serger, lol, one day ...) Because of this fit discrepancy, I've never used the form to mark a hem (since I have considerably more gut and booty than the lovely Bernadette here, it would hang differently on me). Even though it's not exactly my size, it still gets lots of use - plus you just can't deny that it makes for great garment photos at the very least.
So while a dress form isn't something I would ever tell you to run out and buy right now, it's certainly nice to have if you can afford one :) As far as the name of mine, I chose to call her Bernadette after my Grammy. It was her middle name and she hated it, lol. She always said she would haunt me if I dared name any of my children after her (first or middle name - she hated both equally). I disagree with my grandma's feelings about her middle name, and this isn't my child, haha, so I felt fine naming my form Bernadette :)

So that's my dress form! If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask. In the meantime, I'll be here enjoying my pretty dress form :)

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