February 29, 2016

Plus size sewing dress forms: what you need to know

Hi funsters! One of my most regularly commented-upon photos on Instagram is of my darling plus size sewing dress form (also known as a mannequin, or dressmaker’s dummy). As there’s so much interest, I thought I’d do a little round-up of what’s available out there in the way of plus size sewing dress forms, and whether you actually need one.

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Let’s start with that question first: do you need a dress form?

Short answer? Probably not. 

In fact, I didn’t have one until I started developing sewing patterns, and the main reason I bought it is because it’s really hard (read: basically impossible) to find plus size fit models. Fit models have to have measurements that meet a precise standard, and their life is dedicated to staying *exactly* the same size (for which they are paid the big bucks). Can you even imagine?! I look at a baked good and I change size. Anyway, that wasn’t going to happen for Cashmerette Patterns, and I myself am not exactly in one size (I’m between the 18 G/H and 20) and am more busty/less hippy than average, so I didn’t want to use myself either. Enter, my Alvaform, which is used for fitting, along with a range of real women.

That said, if I wasn’t drafting, I don’t think that I’d use a form. Why might you want one? There’s a couple of reasons (and I’m sure many more!):

  • For draping – this type of pattern / garment making requires a form, as you pin and drape the fabric directly onto the form itself. Note that if you’re doing this, you need a pinnable form – not all of them can take pins.
  • For checking fit when it’s hard to do it yourself. If you don’t have a sewing buddy, it’s hard to tell how something fits from behind! Putting it on a form will help you check. That said, your dress form needs to be *exactly* the same size as you for this to be terribly useful – and remember, measurements matching aren’t enough, because you can have a 46″ bust measurement because you have a small back and large bust, or because you have a large back and small bust, so you need a form that’s the same proportions as you too.
  • Hemming, again if you’re doing it yourself. It’s hard to hem straight if you’re having to lean down a lot, or depending on measuring. As our bodies are far from a flat plane, you may find to have an even hem it actually has to go up and down, and that’s really hard to tell on yourself, much easier to tell on a form.
  • To look pretty. Yeah, honestly, a lot of people I know with forms mostly use them for display!

What to look for in a plus size dress form

If you’re interested in buying a form, the first thing you need to consider is what you’re going to be using it for, because that will dictate what type you need! Here are possible characteristics:

  • Pinnable (for draping)
  • Has head/arms/legs
  • Proportions: a surprising number of dress forms think that a size 20 body is just a size 10 stretched in all directions… which I think we all know is bizarre. A lot of them have a consistently small bust and flat stomach, so depending on your needs, this is something to consider.
  • Is adjustable (some have wheels and cogs which make them larger or smaller)
  • Is going to be used for fitting – in which case, needs to be very similar to you proportionately and in measurement
  • Weight – some of them are super heavy vs. others, so consider if you’ll need to move yours or not
  • Price – there is wildly ranging prices for forms, of which more below.

Plus size dress form options


My lovely dress form is a plus sized Alvaform, from the company Alvanon. The plus form is available in sizes (US) 16 – 24, and I bought an 18, which corresponds almost exactly to my pattern size 18 C/D. I use a bra with chicken fillets to mimic larger cup sizes, together with trying things on real women of different sizes.

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms

There are many awesome things about it: Alvaform forms are based on a survey of real women’s measurements, and as such, actually look *way* more like a person than almost all other forms which are like some weird cartoon idea of a woman, and assume that a size 18 is just a size 10 expanded in all directions.

The plus version has a slightly forward/rounded shoulder, a swayback, a squishy tummy (I enjoy poking it when I walk by), and a tipped waist (it goes down from back to front). Alvaforms are also the most commonly used forms by industrial clothing manufacturers, and they have all sorts of claims about how they have fantastic fit etc. Mine has removable arms and legs (but no head!) and it hangs from a really heavy frame which keeps it stable, but allows you to spin the form around.

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms

Source: Alvanon

The downside? It’s seriously expensive: once you’ve added in exceptionally expensive shipping from China, it’s several thousand dollars (you have to call them for an exact quote based on what you’re ordering and their stock levels). That’s because it’s really meant for industry use and not home sewists, and it’s such high quality both in terms of how it was developed and the physical thing. For me, it was a tough decision whether to buy it and have such a big start-up cost, but in the end I’m happy I did, especially given how many people have given me great feedback about the fit of their Appleton and Washington dresses! But this is really strictly for other pattern designers, or hobbyists with a lot of money to burn.

Ok, on to less expensive options!


Wolf are a well-known major dress form manufacturer and you’ve probably seen them around as they’re very common. You can immediately see that they don’t have such a realistic body shape compared to Alvanon, but many people are happy with using theirs. Big issue though: they only go up to an 18, which curiously is a 41.5″ bust – 32″ waist – 43″ hip (significantly smaller than an Alvaform 18) – full measurement chart here. So this is only going to be good if you’re on the smaller size. They’re priced around $900.

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms

Source: Wolf


PGM is another mainstream supplier of forms, and they have a plus form that goes up to 26L, plus they do special order forms up to a 30L (which is 55.5″ bust – 48″ waist – 57.5″ hip). They claim to have a “realistic” shape but it doesn’t really look like any plus size woman I’ve ever seen, I have to say. They’re priced at $568.

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms

Fabulous Fit

Fabulous Fit sell forms, and also sets of pads that you can use them to adjust more specifically to your proportions. This is a great choice if you’re not a “standard” plus size, and want the ability to adjust – they have a bunch of advice on how to use the pads to get a good result. Their plus size form comes in a 16 or 18, but it’s not cheap at just under $1,000 for the half body and over $2,000 for full body.

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms

Uniquely You

Now we’re getting into more affordable! This is a foam dress form, and it goes up to 51″ bust – 44″ waist – 50″ hip. It definitely looks a lot more basic than the ones above, but then it’s only $150 so it’s a bargain in comparison!

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms


Dritz have a range of adjustable dress forms, which are reasonably priced in the $150 – 200 range, and go up to 54″ bust – 47″ waist – 57″ hip. They are definitely a little on the flimsy side, but they do allow you to adjust the size to your needs. You could also combine a Dritz form with Fabulous Fit pads to get a closer fit.

Guide to Plus Size Sewing Dress Forms

Ditto Form

The most innovative option of the lot is Ditto Form, a company that 3D models your body and makes a form that exactly reflects your body! This is especially useful if you have asymmetries, or a particularly non-standard set of measurements. The downside is the right now you can only have the scan done in Washington D.C., although they are looking to expand to other locations. There are two versions: one where they deliver it all made to you for $795, and a “do it yourself” version for $395 – 515 depending on size.

DittoForm1 Dittoform2

For more about DittoForm, check out Stephani’s blog post on her experiences.

Finally, if none of those appeal or are all too pricy (I’m aware that some of these are way beyond the average person’s budget) there’s another option: make your own plus size sewing dress form!

The most well-known approach is to use duct tape, and there’s a fairly comprehensive tutorial over at Threads. They also have instructions for using papier mache (which looks very labour intensive!), or paper tape.  There are many other approaches, but I thought this one from Ikat Bag was particularly interesting.

Phew! I hope this was helpful. Do you own and use any of these plus size dress forms, or are there others you’d recommend? There are many different options out there, so I’ve only highlighted a fraction of what’s available.

Are you interested in more information on curvy sewing, including new pattern launches and special discounts? Then sign up for the Cashmerette newsletter!

A guide to plus size dress forms for garment sewing by Cashmerette


82 thoughts on “Plus size sewing dress forms: what you need to know

  1. LizJ says:

    I bought a Dritz form last year. I’m near the lowest size on it so it’s really not all that flimsy (I chose to get the one where I would be on the smaller end of the range instead of the one where I would be maxing out the range). I was surprised (given that I’m a DD cup) that I get a good fit without any pads or alterations! Perhaps the larger size Dritz form is based on a higher cup size like D. Since it’s hard for me to get a fitting buddy (daughters are too busy and most friends don’t sew), I use it for lots of projects, especially more fitted garments and knit garments with negative ease (like the Appleton Dress).

    1. Glad to hear the Dritz is working for you! It’s a bit like patterns, I think – sometimes we’re just lucky enough to “match” something straight away without modifications.

      1. Carolmv says:

        Hi Heather and Jenny. ..Connie Crawford has a pattern for making an “arm” to attach to a dress form. I have not used it yet but it’s on my ‘to do’ list. I also have a Dritz dress form that I adapted with an old bra, various shoulder pads and foam to look more like me. I did buy the “fabulous fit” padding system , but wouldn’t recommend it. Using foam and shoulder padding of different shapes works just as well and costs much less. Then I covered it with a sloper done to my measurements without ease, and added on the markings for centre front etc. I taped it together with duct tape before covering it, but it is not possible to pin thru duct tape. A future project is to do another one that I can pin thru.

    2. Thank your for the clear info. I really appreciate you including prices. Very helpful!

  2. I, too, have a Dritz form – Genevieve. I got her for Christmas a few years ago, and was initially upset that my sweet mother had gotten the “medium” size model. After some playing, though, I found that if I fully extended her dials, the underbust and shoulder measurements matched me exactly. So, I took a busted bra, stuffed it, and put it on her, then bought batting to wrap her stomach and hips till they were right, and covered the whole thing with tank tops (on which I marked my center line, bust level, and my preferred waist spot). So now she is me and SO HELPFUL…though I do wish she had arms – I always have to do a full bicep adjustment, and I’m still just guessing at that. But I couldn’t do without her anymore!

    1. Sounds like you’ve hacked her to perfection! I do have a bra on my form most of the time and visitors to my studio always seem a little taken aback 🙂

    2. Martina says:

      Connie Crawford has an arm pattern that you can make and then pin onto your dress form. I bought it but haven’t made it up yet. I think it will help with arm-fitting issues.

  3. PsychicKathleen says:

    I had a dress form then moved and let it go thinking I hardly used it anyway THEN after I moved I discovered there were times when it did come in handy! So I bought another one (both times they were dritz because I didn’t know there were other options!) I’ve of course had to alter it quite a bit – the proportions are so off so I’ve had to put a bra on it with padding in places to bring it closer to but it’s still far from perfect. I wish I’d known about these other options – although pricier they no doubt would be much less work to customize and built better too.

    1. There are so many options but I think it’s a bit confusing as a result! Maybe you should check out the Ditto Forms ones below..

  4. Rebecca says:

    I’m hoping DittoForms are able to move beyond Washington D.C. soon. I’ve been watching the bitsofthread.com site for updates. They use 3D scans to create a pinnable form based on your exact measurements and they can do male or female forms. It’s surprisingly affordable too at about $800 for the top version. If anyone is interested, you can contact them so they know which areas have the most interest to expand.

    1. These are so fascinating! Definitely seem like a great idea particularly if they expand outside DC.

      1. Mary Flynn says:

        Hi there! This is Mary from DittoForm. Allison and I recently launched our new web site and are gathering city and state information on our “Contact” page. We hope to expand this year! Please let us know where you live and we’ll get there as soon as we can.

        1. Would love to see this available near Charlotte NC – thank you!

        2. Peggy says:

          It would be great if you had a traveling truck. Then you could just do scans and bring info back to your main headquarters to develope the forms. Might be more cost effective.

          1. Angela Hoyle says:

            I’m in Memphis, TN would love to see you expand here.

        3. Jerri Siegrist says:

          Hi Mary! I live near Nashville, Tn and would love to get you guys down here !

        4. Dawn says:

          Please come to Memphis, TN! I know so many people would love to have one made!

        5. sewnitter says:

          And how about the Pacific Northwest? I live near the Oregon capitol, Salem, but close enough to Portland for easy access. The Portland area has a lot of great sewing interest and support. It’s also the home of Seamwork Patterns a great resource for patterns, wardrobe planning, classes, tutorials, and a wonderful sewing community. A place where you’d get great word of mouth advertising, I’m sure! Hope you can head this way soon.

        6. Beverly says:

          Any chance you could come to the Orlando area?

        7. Michele Brissette says:

          Hi, I’m Michele from Calgary, Alberta, Canada and would love to be scanned and get a true representation of me for a dress form.

          Maybe instead of only using your own scanners people could get scanned locally and pay for it themselves (to your standard and format of course) and send it in to you. You should discount your cost or price for the scanning part and charge for the form. Is that something you might consider?

        8. Jane M Lawson says:

          I hope you come to south east michigan .

          1. Mary says:

            Have, you are in luck! Carol Hulls is the new owner. She moved DittoForms to Detroit. Please visit the DittoForm website to see what she’s been able to do with the business. And tell her Mary says hi! ❤️

        9. Maureen says:

          I see someone here suggested Calgary Alberta Canada. I live 5 hours North but would definitely travel for a scan.

          1. Frances Cook says:

            I wish there would be something like this in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

  5. Stephani says:

    I have a DittoForm, and it is fantastic. It is 100 percent custom, an exact copy of my body, and it’s the least expensive of the custom options out there. Well, if you don’t have to take into account travel costs to get to DC. I haven’t tried any draping on it yet, but I foresee lots of use when fitting patterns for the first time.

    1. That’s great to hear! I only just found out about them and it definitely seems like they could be the holy grail of getting a form that precisely reflects your body for home sewing purposes.

  6. alyson clair says:

    Dude I am scared of the shoulder drop on the Fabulous Fit ones.

    1. Yeah, there’s definitely a range of qualities out there…

  7. Janet in FL says:

    I have used a very, very old garage sale form, padded, then moved on to a duct tape form. The duct tape form is great for fitting, but hard at time because you can’t stick a pin in it. But at least it has my every lump, bump, and fitting issue!

    1. Sometimes homemade can work just as well!

      1. monkeysocks says:

        I made a paper tape one but had the pinning problem so I cut it open and made a smaller paper one inside like a mould with a layer of wadding then made a cover- I love it for fitting and am never going back to flat paper alterations (I was rubbish at it!) It’s all on my blog if any one fancies a look / go at making their own). I added a recap page after seeing a similar convo recently.

  8. Hedda says:

    I have two forms, one adjustable and one “pro” with a set size. None of them are perfect but let’s face it: They make my sewing space much prettier 😉

    My first was a Prymadonna from Prym. Kinda similar to the Dritz with adjustable size. It works pretty well and i LOVE that I can adjust back length as well since I’m high waisted. Unfortunately it is a bit on the small side after I gained a little to much weight, but I padded it to get a better shape anyway so it doesn’t really make much difference.

    My second one looks very much like a Wolf-form with another brand name slapped on it. I love how sturdy it is, but the shape is of course all wrong. The shoulders are super broad and it barely has hips at all, so this pear shaped seamstress certainly doesn’t use it to assess fit! (Not even gonna mention the completely flat tummy and way too perky boobs. Nuh-uh!). But it does have its uses, and with the shoulders collapsed it is fairly similar to me on top. Of course you’re not supposed to keep the shoulders collapsed for too long, but sometimes…

    I did go the duct tape route before buying my two forms, and while it of course matched me perfectly in size and shape I didn’t really use it much. It was heavy and stiff and unpinnable and in general just too impractical.

  9. erniek3 says:

    Courtesy of Ikat Bag, I’m going to have “everyone knows it’s Stiffy” in my head all day long. Think the slinky jingle.

    I’ve got a store brand medium form that I build a princess seamed cover for (zips up the front) off of my sloper. Quilt/foam padding draped inbetween. I’ve made a couple of covers, one for me (38 bust” 36″ tummy 45″ butt) one for my sis (45″ bust, 50″ tum), one for The Client (42″/48″ tum) and use them the same way. Uglier than sin, but effective. I just couldn’t ‘fit’ the nonstandard lady lumps any other way.

    1. thereportstore says:

      Really like this idea of having a shirt with your measurements. Interchangeable too! Brilliant.

  10. Meg White says:

    I heard that Wolf has an option to buy a dress form custom made to your measurements. Have you (or anyone) heard about this? I fantasize about investing in one if they’re good.

    1. Stephani says:

      Wolf does do custom forms, but the price is sky high. There’s the cost for the form itself, the cost for the custom mold, the cost for any changes after the first “draft” and then the freight shipping–you could spend $1500 easily. But from what I’ve heard, it’s a good product.

  11. DTD user here because of cost and because no pre-made form will ever mimic my forward rolled shoulders and Bootstrap D belly protuberance. ; ) Luckily, I made it when I was 20 lbs lighter so I can still use it to check general fit after adding a little back and tummy padding. I use it to check general fit, figure out design line placement, etc. Can’t pin into it, but for the price it’s okay.

  12. Grace says:

    I used to have a uniquely you form that I purchased at a yard sale for $20. It was foam though so it was completely useless for draping and the shape wasn’t remotely realistic. We use Alvanon forms at my job and they are fantastic. Thank you for the run down on all the other options!

    1. Karen says:

      Uniquely You forms are not usable without the covers. You sew the cover to fit you tightly without ease, unzip it and place it on the foam, compressing it into your shape and measurements. Most people do have to resort to an electric knife to reshape the boobs though, as they are bullet shaped 🙂 I love mine.

  13. I use a VERY cheap foam form bought form eBay new, just £30. I got a size a little smaller than my hip size as I am large in the waist and bust. I took off the pinnable stretch nylon cover, padded the form to my shape and size with white wadding plus an old bra, and replaced the cover. I now have a fairly accurate representation of me, for about £40 and a little effort – and with the nylon cover back on it doesn’t look as nasty as a duct tape one 🙂

    1. I did the same thing almost, I had the same polystyrene dressform as you, bought in a smaller size, padded it where it needed it, then I made a new cover for it out of upholstery fabric…. I made a moulage to my exact measurements, then fitted it and sewed it up the back. Looks a lot nicer than a duct tape dressform thats un-pinnable.

  14. Fabulous Fit sells dress forms in two different price points. I bought the less expensive Studio version (not the Professional) for about $400 and that included the dress form, sturdy cast iron stand, a set of contoured customization pads (that sells separately for about $70), and two form fitting covers. I’m not a plus size but I’m lumpy/curvy — the dress form I bought had an annoyingly flat stomach and no butt whatsoever, but I was really happy with how well we got it to match my dimensions and proportions using a combination of the FF pads, thick polyester quilt batting, and a variety of shoulder pads and “chicken cutlets”. It was a lot of work and I couldn’t have done it without my mom helping me: http://cheekycognoscenti.blogspot.com/2016/02/pineapple-log-cabin-block-21-of-36.html

  15. Donna Barraclough says:

    I bought my dress form from The Shop Company. Very nice range of styles and sizes for men, women, and children and prices are reasonable from $170 to $500, they sell a padding kit if you need it and the customer service is out of this world!

  16. Nancy K says:

    I have the Uniquely you and modified it with the Craftsy class. It’s close, but not exact but it is close enough to use it for fitting. I had made two versions of the duct tape dress forms which was more difficult to get close to my body that and my dh refused to do it again! It is time consuming.

  17. Regenia says:

    I will have to make my own as my shape is so different to all forms.

  18. heidi says:

    go and seek Barbara Deckert out. Her Pappmaché- doll is really easy to do and cheap. For pinning you sew a cover. There is a video about making one:

    1. Barb says:

      I also made Barbara Deckert’s paper tape version. I used it for a few years but garments always turned out a size or two too big. It held up pretty well with stuffing inside but was a pain to store and hang/mount on a stand and, of course, was not pinnable. I eventually bought a Dritz size 20-22 adjustable and put an old well-fitting bra on it with extra stuffing. I’m still adding padding to the tummy area but I did buy a princess seamed “dress” pattern from bootstrap patterns (they make patterns to fit the measurements you enter into their website software for a perfect fit but don’t offer much variety in patterns) which will be the outer layer. I’m using Kenneth King’s method of making a 3 layered cover where the innermost layer (with 2 way opening zipper) fits the adjusted but un-padded dressform exactly, the 2nd layer has all the padding (which is attached to the innermost layer permanently with hand stiches and/or spray adhesive) and the outer layer exactly matches your measurements (again with a 2 way seperable zipper). All 3 layers are permanently attached together with the goal of allowing the dressform to be used for multiple models. Once the “parka” is created for each model, it can be slipped on over the dressform to allow for accurate fitting. Apparently this is the way costumers do it for multiple actors/models. It sounded like a good idea and I really didn’t want to use spray adhesive directly on my nice dress form. This also allows a bit of weight variation without having to purchase a new dress form.

  19. Jess says:

    I tried the Duct Tape Dress form for me and my daughter. It worked great for her, she is a cute little rectangle right now, but I had a hard time getting my bust on the form close to real life or removing pieces I had pinned together. Needless to say after a few months of non use I scraped them and made pillows with the stuffing, Between a plus size 24 and toddler 5, it was a lot of stuffing O.O

  20. Lor says:

    Duct Tape Dress forms do not hold up well in hot climates, unless you keep them in the air-conditioning during the summer, as I found out the hard way. I have been wrapped in plaster bandages twice, due to weight changes, for the MY Twin form, and I love it. Covered in cloth, it never leaves sticky residue on pins. If well wrapped, the final form is a pretty close copy of the model, and it doesn’t care whether it gets to stay in the a/c or not.

  21. Diana Steiner says:

    I have the Dritz, as well and have had her for going on 10 years, I think. Brunhilda is super handy for pinning together styles I am not sure about and she’s adjustable, just like me (sometimes smaller, sometimes bigger). If I need a really good fit, on goes my bra and some batting to make sure for final tailoring. A few years back, I think Sew News ran an article to make a pinnable cover for a standard dress form but for the life of me I can’t find it in my stash.

  22. ive found a program that uses the xbox kinect to scan your body and convert it into sizes, then you put that into a pattern drafting program. Ive not tried it yet but it looks like it should be good for bespoke made to measure stuff

  23. Season C says:

    Excuse me, but when you said you used “a bra with chicken fillets to mimic larger cup sizes”, did you mean actual filets from poultry? Or is that the name of a professional sewing notion that I’ve never heard of? Like something made out of filet lace, in the shape of a chicken? I’m trying to wrap my imagination around this. If they were boneless, they’d be the right heft and texture. Are they wrapped in plastic?
    Please put me out of my misery! :o)

    p.s. I’m leaning toward the notions option, since no one else commented on this topic, they must all know about it already.

    1. Hi – it’s a common phrase for gel inserts that you can put in a bra to make your cup size bigger (they look and feel a bit like chicken!). In my case, I”m using it to fill out different size bras.


  24. Monica says:

    I’m a little late to comment on this post but… From my professional experience, Alvanon forms are the only way to go. I have worked with them at several companies to develop new dressforms and the research they put into their work is excellent.
    Most of the other forms you will find out there at size 18 are not true plus, but are graded up missy forms. Alvanon does the best and most realistic job that I have seen in true plus forms – you made a great investment with their form! They also have the best shaped bust on a dressform- actual projection with an underbust instead of that weird slope on so many old forms.
    A company nearby that I used to work for has a body scanner- maybe I can sneak back in and generate my scan to get a Ditto form 😉

  25. Dawn B. says:

    I have a question for those that already have dress forms (duct tape, Wolf, or otherwise);
    If you didn’t opt for the collapsible shoulder, has that posed problems for you?
    If so, how have you worked around those issues to make the dress form work for you?

    1. Mine doesn’t have the collapsible shoulder but I’ve never really had a problem with it.

    2. Barb says:

      I’ve never had a collapsible shoulder. Never had a problem.

  26. Yvonne deCordova says:

    I have actually done a version of the paper mache form many years ago. They require some work, a helper, and the right supplies. You are going to need very specific supplies to make one, but I thought mine was as good as the very expensive store bought version. I used the pre treated plaster strips over one of the body stockings. You will need help to apply the plaster strips and to cut it off your body. It will help with removal if you apply a layer of Vaseline on your skin..You can include arms and legs if you like. It is easier to make them separately. You then tape the halves together. I used a fabric tape, but any heavy duty tape will work. I then used the spray foam you buy at the hardware store to seal insulation. You fill the plaster form with the foam. You want to go slowing being carful not to leave gaps. Once it is completely dry, at least 24 hours, remove the cast. Patch any spots where you see gaps. Put your remaining body stocking over the foam form.You will need plywood caps cut to form for the base the ends of the arms and the neck. Cut and staple the base. I applied a long threaded rod down the center through the plywood based of the neck for stability. I then cut and stapled the neck and the end of the arms. I placed large eye hooks at the neck, arms and two on the base where the legs would attach. I made the arms and legs in the same way and used the hooks to attached the arms and legs. I used the one at the neck to hang the form from a chain. I did alter it with pads and even shaved away some foam when I lost weight. This worked until I got pregnant. I haven’t really made many patterns since then, so I haven’t made another one.

    1. Roni says:

      Yvonne deCordova you went thru a lot of work for your dressform. Thanks for detailing all you did. My Mom wrapped me we used paper tape, and in the course of the 3 or so hours I could not stand perfectly straight. Mom was not that fast with the tape and I was helping thus causing me to slouch and bend slightly. I now have “me” on my cutting table now for more than 2 months waiting to get finished. Measurements on the form the full belly, waist and upper hip all were 4 to 6 inches larger than I was, we remeasured me just after we took it off. Now I am looking into buying a Full Body Dressform and just trashing the “me” form. Totally discouraged.

      1. Barb says:

        I had similar issues with the paper tape version. Every garment I fitted on her was WAY too big on me. Am now trying to accurately pad up an adjustable form. Sigh.

        1. Jan says:

          I made a duct tape form in a class. I had a partner that I did not know applying the tape to me, and she was not doing it exactly as instructed. When the form was finished, it matched my general shape, but I could not put any of my own clothes on it – skirts wouldn’t fasten, blouses wouldn’t button – it was too big. When we moved, I trashed it.

  27. Teresa says:

    I have a ditto form and I love it. It gets the posture right–the shoulder slope and waistline tilt and the bulk and curves are in the right places. It includes the upper part of the arm and is bifurcated for pants. And I can stick pins into it. It was eye-opening to see the ways in which I am lopsided. Now the challenge is to maintain my personal size so it is not outdated! But really once you have the posture right you can pad it if you gain weight. It’s one of the best investments I ever made. I hope they succeed in getting it out to a wider audience. I had done a paper tape form which wasn’t very accurate and not so pinnable. This is much better.

  28. Joy says:

    Just daydreaming here! The writers that have bought secondhand forms then stuffed and padded them to accurately reflect themselves, then covered, someone even suggested a zipped cover . . . . I now have a desire to find a cheap standard size form and make an add on much padded version, me, that can be unzipped and put in the cupboard out of sight so that my room can be decorated by a ‘regular lady’!!!!! Ahhhh🙄

  29. Gilly - UK says:

    I used the Duck Tape method with the help of my husband (hilarious!)and we now have “Elsie” after my Gran who taught me to sew. I looked at forms but couldn’t find one with a large bust that wasn’t up round your ears! None of the adjustable ones seem to be able to raise/lower your bits just widen!

  30. quiltnlady says:

    I was considering purchasing a dress form because I do not have anyone to help me fit clothing. A visitor to my library let me know I could buy a basic pinable form and use my bra and some batting to pad it out.

    1. ellen fleischman says:

      my library rents dress forms

  31. sheilaokelly says:

    Hi Jenny, on a different topic. What pattern is the navy dress you are wearing here? I love it! Thanks.

  32. Emily says:

    I have sewn a couple of Cashmerette patterns as a novice sewer and love them. Thank you for making me look beautiful. I just ordered one of the Uniquely You dress forms as an entry level investment — a few years ago a friend and I made the duct tape dress form, but the combination of humidity and sun in my old home caused it to come unglued in several places.

  33. Karis Crain says:

    I realize this blog entry is from 2016 but I am finally in the market for a dress form. I was very disappointed to find the Ditto Form has gone up to $1500. I was super jazzed that for $500 I could get myself replicated. I figured in the last 2 years the probably started traveling to a few other major cities- yep! But I cant afford $1500. So now I guess I need to take all my measurements and seriously debate between Dritz, The Shop Company and Uniquely You. I am close to 48-50-52 total apple so anything will need to be padded at the waist.

  34. Baptiste says:

    Hi Jenny! Thank you very much for this really detailled blog post. I have a few questions about your dress form, what is the height of it (what is supposed to be the average height of your specific dress form)? I can’t seems to find this information on the Alvanon website and their PDF catalogues. Thank you! Baptiste

    1. It’s a little hard to say as it doesn’t have a head 🙂 But I would estimate around 5’6″.

      1. Baptiste says:

        Thank a lot for your answer! I have one last question, did you choose a soft form or a fiberglass form?
        (1) Fiberglass: It is made of a fiberglass shell covered with linen. This make is best suited for frequent fit sessions.
        (2) Soft: Our soft make is an innovative alternative to our original fiberglass make. It is made of memory foam with an internal skeleton wrapped with a fusible stretch cotton fabric. This make is ideal for tight fitting clothing and undergarments as the memory foam exhibits similar properties to soft human tissue.

        I’m starting my plus size clothing line and your blog post popup when I googled alvanon 😉

        I found the information about the hight of your form, it is 168cm 😉

        Thanks, Baptiste

        1. Carrie McGowan says:

          Our dress form is the soft version.

  35. Karie Houser says:

    Bootstrap patterns have a dress form cover pattern made to your measurements. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks cool. The plan is to make the cover and put it on my dritz form so I can have a “sewing buddy”

  36. There is a company called Bootstrap Fashion that will take your measurements online, and then send you a downloaded pattern for around $50. I have read very good reviews on this , but I was STILL trying to get something for less…..or even free! So I copied the idea and my sister took loads of measurements of me, and I made a moulage of my body, I added a 5/8 inch seam allowance. I had already got a cheap polystyrene mannequin for $30, which I would use for the stand. The polystyrene mannequin was a little out of shape, I had to cut into it to re-shape my bust area. Anyway, I made up my moulage, and tried it on for a good fit…..then attached it to the mannequin….and stuffed here and there, wherever need the extra padding. I used some upholstery fabric which I already had in my stash…..but if I had had to buy it , it was only 1 metre…..so possibly $15-20. And I needed just a small amount of stuffing as the polystyrene form already had the approximate shape, I was just filling in here and there. In total this dressform cost me $35-40 but like I said, I had the fabric already, add that on if you need to buy fabric. I bought half a dozen cheap pillows to use the stuffing , and they cost $10 . I am very happy with my dress form and have made many clothes and the fit is perfect, I also do a lot of draping, so the pillow stuffing and the plystryren is perfect because it makes it pinnable. Bootstrap is a very good option to buy the pattern, but you still need some kind of stand, which is why I used my own dressform and just made it better…..but what you COULD do is buy the pattern, buy a smaller polystyrene dressform to use as a stand, and you wouldnt need to buy so much filling, and it would STILL only cost less than $100. There are many options….

  37. Sandra Jusak says:

    I have used duct tape dummies for years when I was sewing historical clothing. The main thing that is important, is that whovever is wrapping you, does it tightly, otherwise when you start stuffing the dummy, it will end up oversized.

  38. Deanna says:

    In spring of 2020, I purchased the Ava dress form from SewingMachinesPlus.com. It is an adjustable form with a stand and hem arm. I originally ordered the large, but exchanged it for the medium since my hips are narrower than the smallest setting on the large. The large size for bust, waist and hips is up to 53″, 46″ and 55″ respectively. I looked again this morning and they show on sale again all of these months later of $169.00. I still ended up purchasing a Fabulous Fit padding kit to pad the waist where needed. So I think overall, I spent about $215 and am pretty happy with it. However, I think finaaaaaalllly making muslins has been more helpful for fitting issues. 🙂

  39. Linda A says:

    Looks like there’s a company developing remote imaging to do body double work, such as people manufacturing dress forms: That would mean you wouldn’t have to be in the same city as the dress form manufacturer. http://nettelo.com/

  40. Lee Zuhars says:

    Found this web site spot on. Have done duct tape jobs for tall show hats, and costume tops. Also learned about Alvanon here. One aspect about my job is the wearable part in wearable technology. And Alvanon may supply a foam form for us in the near future. Their offering of the 3D digital information of their forms will help greatly. And I have signed up for the 3D TECH Festival 2021 organized by MOTIF & Alvanon . Thank you Jenny

  41. Phyllis Smith says:


    I have to confess that I haven’t taken the time to read through all of the responses. I saw this bootstrap fashion dress form which sounded interesting, but haven’t tried it. I did have a Dritz-style dress form that was queen-sized, but I have a tilted waist/pelvis, so I never could adjust her to fit me. She perished in a shed fire. I’ve had 2 duct tape dress forms, both wrapped by my dear late husband. The first one was, I think, his view of what he wanted me to look like, and the boobs were up and out in a way that was nothing like me. The second one is still in my sewing room and has had a fair bit of use, but I have, happily, lost a lot of weight since “Phyllis 3” was made. I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the standing, inability to go to the toilet, and absolute exhaustion due to disabilities in order to have a “Phyllis 4″ made with duct tape. And I don’t know where the weight loss will stop–I started really losing after my husband died. But I do need to be able to fit my clothes and don’t have a fitting buddy, so I may look into the bootstrap dress form.

    I love everything I’ve seen you do so far, Jenny. I love your patterns, but with my tilted waistline I always gravitate away from dresses with waistline seams. I haven’t figured out how to alter the patterns to be 4” higher at the back waist than the front. I tend to favour princess seamed dresses without a waist seam or empire waistlines. I haven’t seen much like that in your collection–yet. I’ll keep watching your site to see what I could work with. I do like that Upton dress–it’s so versatile! I may have to give it a try–perhaps for Christmas.

    Thanks, Jenny. It’s nice knowing that there are nice patterns for curvy figures!! Maybe someday a designer with a tilted waist will do a line of patterns for folks with my figure problem!

    Phyllis x

  42. Tonya Steele says:

    I have so enjoyed your blog! I am a plus size and there are many helpful articles here. I will be back for more!

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