Using a Dress Form

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Whether you are a knitter or crocheter, one of the most useful tools you can use when making wearables is a dress form, and getting one doesn't necessarily mean breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas about where to get an inexpensive dress form or how to make one yourself on the cheap.

The most useful dress form is one that mimics your body (or the body of the person you are making a form for) perfectly.  Sure, you can try on a sweater as you make it, and sometimes that is all you need, but it can be hard to see the sweater from all sides and it is sometimes a hassle to take off what you are wearing and change into your work-in-progress.  If you are making a wearable in pieces (like a sweater that will be seamed), having a dress form allows you to pin your work-in-progress to validate fit.  (Jennifer Hansen's online Craftsy Class Beyond Basic Broomstick Lace (photo above) takes you step-by-step through the process of making a crochet wearable to fit using a dress form.)

Professional dress forms can be very pricey, and for the casual crafter, even the adjustable dress forms can be overkill.  Here are a few options for dress forms that you may want to consider if you find you are making a lot of wearables.

  • The Easiest Option:  Buy an adjustable dress form based on your size.  They come in Small, Med and Large.  These can adjust to your measurements (tips on measuring)
  • Go Vintage:  Check out local garage sales or even eBay for vintage dress forms. You can get some real bargains and nothing beats the charm of a vintage form, but be careful about the condition of the form. Many are brittle or bent out of shape and may not prove that useful as a fitting tool.  Stitch Diva Jennifer Hansen (shown above) uses a vintage form - check out her lesson on fitting in her Beyond Broomstick Lace class on Craftsy for more tips on fitting.
  • Make your own!  Making your own dress form sounds complicated, but the easiest method doesn't require much more than 2 rolls of duct tape, an old tshirt, and a friend!  In addition to the previous link, there are a TON of resources on the internet (including videos) to help you create the easy duct tape dress form.
  • Modify a dress form: If you choose to buy a new adjustable dress form or go vintage, many times the form will only come close to approximating your body, but won't be exact. Folks SWEAR by the Fabulous Fit Fitting System (it's even featured on Project Runway) to make the body an exact an useful duplicate of one's own.

Once you use a dress form, you will not be able to imagine how you created a sweater without one. Check out the links above and decide which option works best for you.