How to Use a Dress Form

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This is a beginner's guide to using a dress form. Why use one, and how? I've found that those new to sewing often view dress forms as something that only professional seamstresses use, however using one is quite easy and intuitive. While mastery of pattern making is an art that comes with years of practice and mistakes, a dress form is still a huge help to beginners for many types of projects.

Read on for a quick and dirty guide on how to drape patterns on a form!

Passo 1: What is Draping?

Before we get started with how to make a pattern from a form, let's first ask the question, why? There are two main ways to make a pattern - flat pattern making, and draping.

Flat pattern making involves taking a basic flat pattern (sloper), and altering it to the desired style in flat paper form through cutting, measuring, and taping. An easy example to visualize is if you had a straight skirt, and wanted it to be A-Line. You would slash the skirt at regular intervals, and pivot the pieces apart from the waist until the desired level of flare is achieved. Then you would copy that over to a new paper pattern, and voila, new pattern.

Draping is patternmaking done on the form. Draping is useful for all kinds of patternmaking, but particularly for anything with draped elements (hence the name), like the two examples above. Cowls, ruching, asymmetry, and any elements that are hard to visualize in a flat fashion are where dress forms are truly indispensable. What I love about draping is that it is easier for me to visualize than flat pattern making, as creating a shape in 3D feels like a more organic process than drafting in 2D.

In this tutorial I am draping a simple form fitting pattern. While buying a flat pattern would probably be the quicker way to go in this case since it is an common shape, I wanted to keep it simple in order to demonstrate the basic process of draping, fitting, and drafting the pattern. All patterns, from a basic pattern like this to a complicated draped design, will follow very similar principles.

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girlwithknife
girlwithknife diz: Abr 17, 2014. 3:38 PM

Thank you for this instructable. I recieved a dressform over a year ago and it has given me nothing but trouble trying to fit it to me (ended up using a stiff bra to counteract the form's flat chest) and use it constructively (i hate patterns and can't think 2d w/ sewing. Very useful

tofu911
tofu911 diz: Abr 3, 2014. 10:28 AM

Thank you for this instructable. I am working on 2 similar projects but I'm a newbie and enjoyed reading your expertise on dress forms.

Natalina
Natalina diz: Abr 4, 2014. 4:50 PM

Glad to hear it!

HollyMann
HollyMann diz: Abr 3, 2014. 6:55 AM

This Instructable is very useful Natalina. I bought a beautiful vintage dress form that is quite old - but awesome as it is adjustable in all areas so I could make it fit my measurements. Yours tips are so useful - I seemed to have skip learning the basics when I got it a while back - this helps give me more ideas. :)

Natalina
Natalina diz: Abr 4, 2014. 4:50 PM

Thanks, I'm so glad you've found it helpful. I was surprised when I searched for similar instruction online how little there is on the subject, glad to have this out there!

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Abr 2, 2014

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Bio: I'm a designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.

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