Dress Forms
Sewing Room Essential?

dress forms

Thinking about purchasing dress forms? There a few things to consider before you do. Also known as a dress makers body form, this invaluable tool can make your sewing experience a much easier, but which one is right for you. 

There are pros and cons to each type of body form. Keep reading and I will explain a little about each type of body form available, helping you can make a decision on what form is best for you. 

What Is A Body Form?

A body form is a freestanding three dimensional form that allows you to fit a pattern and garment pieces as you sew. They come in all sizes for men, women and children.

Some body forms are adjustable with dials and some are custom made to a person’s body. Most of the wealthy folks that can afford a designer have an exact replica of their body, so they don't have to be fitted in person as often or at all.

Why Do you Need A Body Form?

If you are able to have a three-dimensional view of how your garment is turning out, you will have a better fitting garment.

You can imagine it is difficult to see how a pattern is fitting when you are wearing it. Using a body form you can alter the pattern and garment as you sew. The result is a better-fit and pleasant sewing experience.

Where To Find Body Forms

You can purchase a body form online, at your local fabric store, or you can make your own custom body form.

Used body forms are also an option. Look in the classified sections of your newspaper or go to online classifieds, such as Craig's List or Yellow Pages etc.

Adjustable Body Forms

Pros :

Adjustable body forms are a convenient feature to have if you do sew for other people. There are dials placed at key points of the body and you can increase and decrease to fit a measurement range. These body forms come in various body measurement ranges. I have sewn for a theater group for many years and the adjustable feature is very handy.


The dials on the adjustable forms can break down easily if you are not careful. The body form is only a general guideline to a person’s actual body measurement. We all have bumps and curves in the right and wrong places. Adjustable body forms don't allow for this.

Professional Dress Forms


Professional dress forms have a more realistic shape, if you are purchasing for yourself or you are starting a business and have customer that require a custom fit this is a good choice.

The often come set on wheels for easy transport if necessary. 


Professional body forms are only good for one general size. They aren't adjustable. 

Professional body forms are a little more expensive, and they are heavier to move around if you need to transport.  

Wire Mannequin

Wire body forms are more of a decorative item. The functionality of a wire form is charm and whimsy and not really for sewing. 

I suppose you could use a wire form to fit but I really think that "just for looks" is what it's main function is.

However, if you are looking for a wire body form to feature in your home or any where, they do add charm and conversation interest.

Make Your Own Custom Body Form

Pros :

 Like the professional body forms, making your dress form would give a better-fit result when making your garments. The cost is a fraction of what it would cost for adjustable or professional body forms and if you don't mind the extra work, you could have some fun with a friend helping you out.


If you would like to save a few dollars and want to try your hand at making your own personalized dress form, here are some websites that give systematic tutorials on the various ways to do this.

I have not attempted to make a custom body form myself, I have an adjustable form and I like it for the reasons I have listed above.

However, I have considered making a body form for myself and would consider these tutorials as reference for making my own.

Threads Magazine - Clone Yourself.

I hope you found this page helpful. For more great sewing help and tips click here.

Happy sewing!