Unless you have a perfect fit right out of the envelope, a dress form is an essential tool for sewing. It doubles as your fitting assistant as well as helping you to see how your garment will look on your own body in a 360 view. It can be a bit daunting when searching for a plus size form as they are not easy to come by and always cost more than the lower sized form, but there are more inexpensive options and there is always the DIY approach.
The Non-Adjustable Dress Form
If you want to spend a lot of money and want the best of the best, there is the Wolf Dress Form. Keep in mind that the Wolf does not go into a true plus size.
There is also the Fabulous Fit which goes up to 47-40-48.
Similar to the Wolf is the PGM. These go into plus size ranges (up to 55-48-57) and have plus size body types but are still pricey.
A lower cost option is the Uniquely You dress form which goes up to a 50-44-51.
The Adjustable Dress Form
I use an adjustable dress form. Mine is the Dritz Twin Fit Full Figure.
While adjustable dress forms have some bad reviews for being plastic-y and cheap, they are an inexpensive option. The only two I have found in the true plus range are the Dritz Twin Fit (up to 54-47-57) and the Dritz My Double (up to 54-47-57). I really did not know which one to choose when I bought mine, but the day I bought mine [from Overstock.com], the Twin Fit was cheaper, so I snagged it. I love this dress form and it works well for me. I also have a Singer adjustable form in a medium and the Dritz is far better quality. People also complain about it not adhering well to the shape of their body. Well… what can you expect with an adjustable form? It is not a custom form and you need too take that into account. However, you can alter it to be more like you with customizations below. 🙂
Customizing an Existing Dress Form
Before I bought my Dritz, I used a dress form that I customized. This was one I bought at a thrift shop for about $20 and I customized it to my size by using quilt batting, foam and stuffing. I then made a cover with cotton broadcloth and pinned it on rather than sewing one so that I could adjust my form if need be. You can get a perfect fit going this route if you take good measurements and adhere to them while customizing your form.
There is also the Fabulous Fit System, which takes a bit of the guesswork out.
The DIY Dress Form
Duct Tape Form
I was considering going this route before I purchased my Dritz Twin Fit. My plan (which I rarely see others do) was to make a nice cover for it as I frankly think the duct tape is quite horrid (although you can buy colored and print duct tape now!) and I like pretty things in my sewing room. I was also concerned about pinning things to it, which doesn’t seem like it would be feasible to do with a duct tape form. You could add some batting, but then you’re also adding bulk which is something you really don’t want in a dress form. There are many online tutorials on making a duct tape dress form, you can find a two good ones here and here and here.
Paper Tape Form
Molded Papier Mache Form
If you are really inventive and artistic you could make your own papier mache form and fill it with foam. This looks really awesome to me, but I’m doubtful I will ever do this. It also doesn’t seem that usable to me as you can’t pin on it. There is a good tutorial here.
I find this form to be completely awesome. It looks quite time consuming, but you will get the perfectly pinnable and uniquely you form with this method. I would like to go this route someday and make my own ultimate dress form. This excellent tutorial is here.
Sew Your Own
This French Dress Form pattern is actually very small, but you could grade it up and get a great fit if you are quite industrious. I bought this pattern myself to make some pretty decorative dress forms for my sewing room. I even bought a nice pink damask and blue toile to make covers, but have yet to do it…. When I’m in my sewing room I’m more into sewing garments than other things and stuff like this gets put on the “I’ll do it someday’ list….
Wooden Dress Form
This dress form is not for the faint of heart, but as it has a wood base, it will definitely be sturdy! Tutorial here.
DIY Form Base
I’m sure you’re wondering how to prop up your DIY form once you’re done with it. I find this photo (which I originally saw on pinterest a couple of years ago) to be very useful. I also thought that a coat rack would work well for a base and bought myself a couple at a yard sale for the day that I actually DIY my own form. If you (or someone you know) is good at woodworking, here is a great tutorial for making your own base out of wood.
No matter which option you chose — even if you bought a ready-made form — you can dress up your fitting assistant with a cover. You can go with a fitted cover with a zip back like this or a stretch knit one like this.
I hope this helps in your quest for the right dress form for you.
If you have another type of form, have seen others elsewhere, or have made your own, feel free to comment and let us know!