Different Types of Dress Forms and Their Use

Dress forms are used by fashion institutions, sampling department in a garment factory, in boutique houses, and by haute couture designers. It looks like a simple tool. But dress forms are responsible for the fit of the garment that you are wearing. In this article, we will discuss different types of dress forms and going to know about what a dress form is along with its importance.

A dress form is a three-dimensional model of a torso or an entire body, moulded to take the shape of the human body. It comes in different sizes which often differ according to manufacturers. It is mostly used for fitting clothing that is being designed or sewed. These are available for male, female and kids dress forms.

Dress form
Dress forms for garment fit checking (Image Credit: i.ebayimg.com)

Most often people get confused with the difference between dress form and mannequins. The difference lies in the material with which they are made. A dress form is usually constructed with a hard interior covered by foam and fabric covering making it helpful for pinning. Whereas a mannequin is made of hard material like fiberglass, plastic or even metal, most often depicting an entire body. Another difference is the postures between them. A dress form will always have a straight pose as it needs to justify draping. Whereas a mannequin can be of any desired position to complement the dress as well as act as an aesthetic addition to a retail store.

Different Types of Dress Forms

1. Display Dress Form 
These are the most basic of them and are mostly used for displaying garments and the creation of photoshoot samples. It comes in various sizes with no standard measurements and is the cheapest of them all. Its features include adjustable hights and easy pinning.
Display dress form
2. Professional Dress Form 
As the name suggests these are made for the sole purpose of the fitting, draping, pinning, etc. these dress forms are a must for sampling department, boutique houses, etc. The sizing of these is very much defined but can vary according to manufacturers. the difference between this and the above will be the features and longevity, as a result, these are priced much higher.

Professional dress form

These features include adjustable shoulder for easy put on and removal of garments, wheel stand for easy mobility, caged bottom to assist hemming. These also come with adjustable or removable arms which can be very much useful for the fitting of sleeved garments. It is advised to undo the collapsing of the shoulder as keeping it like that for a long time can damage the hinges.

3. Bifurcated dress form 
It is similar to that of the above, with the only difference being included legs for fittings of shorts and pants. Also, these are costlier than the above.
Bifurcated dress form

4. Adjustable dress form 
As the name suggests, in this dress form the measurements can be changed according to various sizes. These are very similar to that of display dress-forms in size and functionality. The sizes can be changed with the dials which are placed at critical measuring points as in center back, center front, side seam, neck. Also, they are height adjustable along the waist. It must the checked that the expansion made are uniform all-over otherwise fitting can get altered.

Adjustable dress form

The drawback of these is the lack of collapsible shoulders and are not ideal for pining or draping. The reason being that as the dress-form expands, it creates gaps along various critical seam lines like the center front, side seams, waist, and other marking points. Also, these dress-forms loses the advantage of customization due to the ridges formed during expansion. These are mostly light-weighted with a hollow interior and are fragile in use.

Also read: Virtual fitting room 

How to use dress-forms

Most of the dress form comes with the pre-determined making of the various levels on which major measurements are taken. Below are the four major levels of marking.

  1. Bust level- It is placed over the apex point which is the highest point of the bust.
  2. Underbust line- It is placed a few inches below the actual under bust to compensate for the shape of the bust.
  3. Waistline- It is the narrowest part of the form and it differentiates the lower body from that of the upper. Comparing to an actual figure it is at the point where the belly button is.
  4. Hipline- It is the widest part of the bottom area.

These are the basic markings of a form, but in absence of the marks, one can pin ribbon tape over that point around the form. But it should be taken care that the ribbons are straight and parallel to each other.
Dress form measurement

Even though dress forms available in the market are of various sizes but it is hardly often that a person has the same size as that of the form. For that, it is always advisable to pick a size that is smaller than his/her actual size and pad around the critical place to make it even. Thus, the use of pads acts as a little addition to forms to get that perfect shape. The critical points for the addition of pads can be bust, waist, side seam, hip, center back and it should be taken care that the pads are attached or pinned equally all over the form.

Dress forms are a very costly tool and prices vary with the manufacturer, materials, types, etc. Also, they come in the form of fully pinnable and partially pinnable which should be there in the manual of the dress form.

Dress forms are the ultimate tool for a fitting and are a must for every designer but being expensive it can also make it inaccessible. For that, a custom cheap alternative can be made in the home also with just duck tapes. Have a look at this video to make one for yourself.



Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep Saha holds a Master's Degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT, New Delhi. He is also a graduate in apparel production. His area of interest includes Quality Assurance and technology implementations in Apparel Production.

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