If you are sewing regularly whether for yourself or for profit, then a dressmakers dummy can make your sewing easier and more enjoyable as you get a great fit and manage to stand back and admire your work. Here I give you a breakdown of the different types of dressmakers dummy and which will best suit your sewing needs.
A dressmaker's dummy is a fabric-covered torso in real-life proportions that is designed to help you sew and fit clothing. They come in different sizing options and shapes and are usually padded so you can pin fabric if necessary. Ideally, you want your dressmaker dummy to reflect your shape and size proportions. Most come with just the torso only, but more expensive professional dressmaker dummy's come with detachable arms and even legs. Dummies typically have either metal or wooden bases.
Dressmakers dummy's can also be called dress forms, tailors mannequins, sewing mannequin or sewing forms.
How to Choose the Size of a Dressmakers Dummy
Most of the time a dressmaker dummy will come in different sizes. This may be in the form of small, medium, large or a numbered size similar to clothing. Always refer to the measurement chart from the dress form manufacturer rather than worrying about the size on the dummy. Different manufacturers will use different sizing standards.
Take your measurements (Read Sewing Measurements - Body Measurements for Sewing) over your everyday underwear. Make sure you also take your body length measurements as you may have a shorter or longer torso than is standard. I have a very long torso with shorter legs so need a dressmakers dummy with an adjustable length when making clothing for myself.
What is the Best Dressmakers Dummy to Buy?
There is no one solution to this question. It just depends on your needs and what you will be using the dress form for. And as always your budget. Here are the different types of dressmakers dummy and their features.
Types of Dressmakers Dummy
There are 3 main types of dressmakers dummy:
- Fixed - Cheap as they have no adjustment wheels
- Adjustable - These can adjust between a range of sizes. Great if you are sewing professionally for a variety of sizes.
- Professional - Most expensive as they are high quality. These come in fixed sizes and often have metal stands and wheels.
Fixed Dressmakers Dummy
A fixed dressmaker's dummy is great if you are looking for a cheap solution, have fairly standard body measurements or for those with a small sewing business looking to photograph your products. Check the measurements carefully before you buy as many have unrealistic proportions such as really small waist measurements. There is also limited shaping in the bust area and these do not come with arm options.
If you plan on taking photographs of clothing, choose one with the stand in the center. I always think they look strange when on the side, although if you are photographing pants this may be an advantage. If you are looking for a feel-good option for your sewing room then consider one of the dress forms covered in patterned or colored fabric. The black and white graphic one below appeals to my love of vintage.
Adjustable Dressmakers Dummy
These are a little more expensive than the fixed dressmaker's dummy but are great if your body measurements fall in a range of sizes. For example, if you are a pear shape or triangular shape you can adjust the bust separately to the hips. These also come in small, medium and curvy ranges so you can find a dummy that can model your shape.
Different brands of adjustable dressmakers dummy will have a different number of dials and adjustment points all of which affect the price. Good brands for home sewers include Singer and Dritz. If you will be sewing for clients regularly and adjusting the knobs constantly then invest in a sturdier model as some of the cheaper ones are a little flimsy. For those of you that plan on setting the knobs and adjusting it once or twice a year then a cheap model will do the trick.
Professional Dressmakers Dummy
These are the most expensive of all the dummies and are designed for those of you who want to design couture garments or sew clothing collections for profit. Unlike the adjustable models, the professional dummies have no knobs or adjustments.
If you are a home sewer it wouldn't be worth the extra expense. The great thing about these professional dummies is that they often come with detachable arms to give you even better fit options. Great brands include PGM, Alvanon, Wolf and Fabulous Fit.
The professional dressmakers dummy is generally well made, strong and has a pinnable surface great for draping and dress design. Most brands will carry women, kids and men's dummies in a range of sizes. You can choose from a half model to the thigh or a full model with legs and arms. Personally, I think arms are a must when designing but only spend the extra on legs if you plan on doing pants designs.
Dressmakers Dummy - In Conclusion
The right dressmakers dummy for you is a personal choice and will be influenced by your needs and of course your budget. If you have any comments or buying tips to share please comment below.
Buy something adjustable if you are making different sizes.
Hi Patty, the workmanship and material quality are normally superior on the fixed dummies.
Thank you for this information. I am just beginning to study what's necessary to create my own business. I wish I'd invested in a dummy early in life when I first wanted to design, but oh well, better late than never!
On question: Why is a highly expensive fixed dummy better than a less expensive adjustable dummy???
Want to know what size and brand to buy for sewing to sell
Great guide Thank you. Would also appreciate comparison to "diy" dummies.