If you walk into any shop that works with clothing alterations, such as a costume shop or the alterations room of a dry cleaner’s, you’ll likely see dress forms strewn about the room.
Dress forms are an essential tool in any seamstress’ arsenal. They help the seamstress see how the fabric drapes while on the human form and can help with getting the fit just right.
Of course, getting the fit just right depends on having a dress form that matches the person’s measurements exactly. This can be a tough thing to manage unless you buy a new dress form for every person you sew for.
An alternative would be to buy an adjustable dress form. Adjustable dress forms can be helpful because they adjust to be different sizes, helping you create clothing in a variety of sizes from the same dress form.
So, what is the best adjustable dress form? The best adjustable dress form comes in multiple size options, has adjustment dials or wheels that are easy to use, has thick enough foam for pinning, and includes a hem marker and a built-in pin cushion.
Even if you’re just a small-time crafter making clothes from home, a dress form is a must-have tool in your sewing room. It will help you visualize the clothes you’re making and ensure the right fit for you or the person you’re making clothes for.
How To Use A Dress Form
Dress forms are utilized by sewists around the world because they’re so universally helpful. Using a dress form is simple and straight-forward. All you need to do is create a draft of your fabric, pin it in place, then drape it over the dress form as you would over someone’s head.
The fabric should lay on the dress form as it would on the human body, giving you an idea of how it’s going to look by the person who wears it.
Depending on the dress form, you can also pin the fabric together directly on the dress form. You can do this by pinning pieces of fabric to the form where you want them to be, then grabbing the edges of two pieces and pinning those together.
Dress forms are also sometimes used simply to display finished pieces. If you’re in between projects but don’t want the bare dress form sitting in your sewing room, you could try displaying one of your previously finished pieces on the dress form.
Adjustable Dress Forms – Buyer’s Guide
Before you go purchase the first adjustable dress form you find, it’s important that you know the top qualities to look for.
Although you can get an adjustable dress form online for a reasonable price, they’ll still cost you anywhere between $100-400. You want that investment to be worth it, so it’s best to buy the right product the first time.
To help you get the most bang for your buck, we’ve provided the top 5 qualities below that you should look for in your adjustable dress form.
1. Multiple Body Size Options
The best adjustable dress forms come in multiple sizes. This doesn’t just refer to the adjustment between sizes on one dress form, but rather the company’s variety in offering dress forms to suit different size ranges.
One dress form, even with the adjustable knobs, can only encompass so many sizes. It can’t possibly fit sizes 0-24 without losing stability and ceasing to function. With that much space between the foam pieces, you’d never be able to pin everything right.
This is why it’s so important for companies to offer more than one size. One size of a dress form usually has a range of about 4-6 sizes. Before you purchase your adjustable dress form, make sure it will adjust to your size or the size of the person you’re making clothes for.
If you’re sewing clothes for a wide variety of sizes, you may have to purchase two or three adjustable dress forms to encompass all of them. But buying 2-3 dress forms for 20 people is still better than buying 20 dress forms, 1 for each person!
2. Easy To Use Adjustments
Some adjustable dress forms will work with dials, some will have wheels, and some will have a small cog with a hole in the middle and a tool to insert into the hole and twist to adjust.
Regardless of what method your adjustable dress form uses, you want to ensure it’s going to be easy for you to use. All of these adjustment methods work great, but the important thing is making sure they work great for you.
Some people find dials easier and some people find wheels easier, so figure out which makes the most sense to you and invest in a dress form with that technology.
If you’re not sure which would be best for you, then dials and wheels are both a safe bet. They’re easy to spin and generally have numbers or indicators that help you adjust to the right size.
It’s important that you understand how your adjustment mechanisms work because your dress form will likely have several of them.
Most adjustable dress forms have 9-12 adjustable dials or wheels. You’ll be adjusting every one of them to get to the right size on your dress form, so you definitely want to be sure they’re easy for you to use.
3. Foam For Pinning
Although this isn’t a given with every adjustable dress form, you want to make sure you have a layer of foam thick enough for pinning.
All of the adjustable dress forms we recommend in our product section below have a foam outside, but the real test is if that foam is thick enough to pin on.
Many adjustable dress forms don’t have a thick enough foam to pin directly onto because they have so many mechanics on the inside to adjust the size.
The dress form is hollow inside, with gears and bars to assist with adjustments. This is different compared to a regular dress form that doesn’t adjust. It doesn’t need to have the gears and bars inside, so it’s just one solid block of foam.
Having foam thick enough for pinning isn’t exactly a must-have, but it is an indication that your adjustable dress form is higher quality and worth your money.
You can still certainly pin your fabric while it’s laying down, then drape it over the dress form, regardless of the thickness of your foam.
However, if you plan to pin fabric directly to the form, then you’ll want to try and find an adjustable dress form with foam thick enough for pinning.
4. Hem Marker
An incredibly useful tool that is a must-have to come with your adjustable dress form is the hem marker.
This is a device that usually sits on the lower end of your dress form pole and revolves around the pole to make a full circle. It’s used to mark the hem so you make sure you get an even, solid hem all the way around your clothing.
Marking, pinning, and sewing an even hem isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when working with a large, full skirt or dress. The fabric is wide and hard to make even all the way around.
Even if you measure out the hem and mark it every inch or so, then pin accordingly, you’re likely to still have a little curve here and there that makes the hem a little off. This is usually not noticeable to the naked eye, but can be obvious on closer inspection.
If you want to craft clothing that’s pristine and measured smoothly, then using the hem marker is your best bet. It will mark your hem all the way around the fabric so you know exactly where to pin every step of the way.
5. Built-In Pin Cushion
Another great feature to have on your adjustable dress form is a built-in pin cushion. Not every adjustable dress form has one, so be sure to keep an eye out for those that do.
While a pin cushion might not seem like a big deal, they’re incredibly helpful when you’re adjusting the fabric on the dress form.
Sometimes you don’t see the misaligned seams or the odd shape to the fabric until it’s draped on the dress form. Once you do, it makes sense that you’d fix it by re-pinning the fabric on the form.
It’s easiest to re-pin the fabric if you already have pins readily available right in front of you, instead of reaching down to your pin cushion on your sewing table. You can use the built-in pin cushion to take out pins from your fabric and store them until you’re ready to re-pin.
The built-in pin cushion on adjustable dress forms is usually on the neck of the form, so keep an eye out in that area to see if your chosen adjustable dress form has one.
Just like some of the other qualities listed here, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker if a dress form doesn’t have one, but it sure is nice to use if you can get one.
The Best Adjustable Dress Forms
Now that you have a sense of what to look for in an adjustable dress form, we’ve collected a list of our top recommended products. Each of these products has some, if not all, of the features we listed above. Some are more advanced and some are more simplistic, but they’re all great dress forms.
Think about how you’ll use your adjustable dress form, which features you need more than others, then review our list below and choose the one that best fits your needs.
|Dritz Twin-Fit Adjustable Tri-Pod Stand
|12 adjustable dials, small to full-figure
|Dritz Sew You Adjustable Dress Form
|Small and medium, built-in pin cushion
|BHD Beauty Purple 13 Dials Female Fabric
|Hem marking gauge, neck width dial
|Roxy Display Store Adult Female Dress Form Mannequin
|Small to large, hem marker
|Dritz My Double Designer Adjustable Dress Form
|12 adjustment dials, 5 rolling wheels
|Dritz Little Double Adjustable Dress Form
|12 adjustment dials, child form
|FAMILY DRESSFORM FM-S Family Adjustable Mannequin Dress Form
|12 adjustment dials, neck knob
|SINGER | Adjustable Red Dress Form
|Advanced form, rotating hem marker
|Female Dress Form Mannequin Adjustable Dress Form
|Adjustable height, fashionable decor
1. Dritz Twin-Fit Adjustable Tri-Pod Stand
The first recommended adjustable dress form comes from a brand you will see multiple times on this list: Dritz. Dritz makes several great quality adjustable dress forms with different options and levels of adjustments available.
This Twin-Fit model in particular is one of the best on the list. It sits right in the middle of the average price range, but for a median price, this model is impressive.
This adjustable dress form comes with 12 dials to make your measurement adjustments in ½” increments. Aside from adjusting the size of the bust, you can also adjust the height of the pole to help you get that perfect hem length.
Speaking of perfect hems – this Twin-Fit dress form comes with a hem marker to help you mark your hems with ease. It also has a built-in pin cushion to help you make adjustments while your clothing is hanging on the form.
On top of all that, this dress form comes in five different sizes: petite, small, medium, large, and full-figure. The range of possibilities is endless with the Dritz Twin-Fit adjustable dress form.
2. Dritz Sew You Adjustable Dress Form
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can nearly cut the price in half by choosing this Dritz Sew You Adjustable Dress Form.
This model primarily uses wheels, 9 of them to be exact, with only 2 dials to adjust the front bust and waist. The wheels are located on the sides and back of the dress form, which you can roll with ease to widen or shrink the size.
Although this model is on the cheaper side, you won’t have to skimp on special features. This adjustable dress form still comes with a hem marker and built-in pin cushion to make your life easier as you work on your garment.
You can even still adjust the height of the dress form on the center pole to ensure that hem marker is truly positioned exactly where you need it for the height of your subject.
The only downside to this model is that it only comes in two sizes: small and medium. Of course, if one of those is exactly the size you need, then you can’t go wrong with this budget-friendly option.
3. BHD Beauty Purple 13 Dials Female Fabric
If the color of your adjustable dress form is important to you, then BHD Beauty has you covered. They have a wide range of colors, though the color will depend on your size.
Their medium size model comes in red and purple, while their large size model comes in green and blue.
The color isn’t the only great thing about this adjustable dress form. Not only do you get 12 body dials to adjust the measurements around the bust, waist, and hips, but you also get a bonus neck dial to adjust the width of the neck.
The foam on this model is designed for pinning, so you can pin your fabric directly to the dress form for easy construction.
The center pole adjusts so you can set the correct height and see how the clothing will drape on the person. Plus, this model also comes with the hem marking gauge to guide your hand in sewing perfect hems.
4. Roxy Display Store Adult Female Dress Form Mannequin
Another great option in the middle of the price range is the Roxy Display Store Adjustable Female Dress Form.
Like a few of the others, it comes with 12 dials for adjusting the bust, waist, and hips in the front, back, and sides. This gives you more precise control over the measurements of your dress form.
One of the dials even adjusts the torso height, helping you get the silhouette of your garment perfect for your subject.
And just as with the others on this list, you’ll still get that hem marker to help you pin and sew the perfect hem with ease.
This dress form only comes in sizes small and large, so pay attention to the dress sizes encompassed in those ranges to ensure this dress form will work for your needs.
5. Dritz My Double Designer Adjustable Dress Form
Heading back over to Dritz, we have this stellar offering from them in the My Double Designer model.
This model has everything you could possibly want. It has 12 adjustment wheels that you can spin with ease to expand or contract your dress form.
It also has a bonus adjustment knob on the neck that you can use to extend the length of the torso for those who have longer than average torso heights.
The center pole comes with measurements to gauge the height, and it can be moved off center to help you with constructing pant legs.
On the center pole is the pin hem marker that revolves in a circle around the pole to help you mark your hem straight with ease.
The whole adjustable dress form sits on a base with 5 rolling wheels and locking casters, so you can easily maneuver it around your sewing room and lock it in place when you have it exactly where you need it.
This dress form comes in sizes petite, small, medium, and full-figure.
6. Dritz Little Double Adjustable Dress Form
Not everyone works on clothes specifically for adults. Many sewists create clothing for children, whether it be their own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, etc.
If you need a good adjustable dress form to create children’s clothing, then look no further than the Dritz Little Double model.
This model is nearly identical to the model listed above, the My Double Designer, but in a child’s form. You’ll get the same 12 adjustable wheels along the dress form, as well as a knob in the neck for extending the torso.
It also includes the hem marker, adjustable pole height, and a pin cushion at the top.
7. FAMILY DRESSFORM FM-S Family Adjustable Mannequin Dress Form
This adjustable dress form from Family Dress Form has a bit of a more polished look, but the adjustment stations may be a little more difficult to work with.
The adjustments work by using their adjustment knob tool, sticking it into the adjustment holes and twisting to adjust. If this technology sounds good to you, then this model will work great.
It has 12 adjustment stations, as well as a knob on the neck for additional adjustment as well as a built-in pin cushion just below the neck knob. It comes with the hem marker, too, to help you get that perfect hem the first time with no fuss.
8. SINGER | Adjustable Red Dress Form
If you’re a fan of Singer and have a Singer sewing machine in your home, then you will love this Singer adjustable dress form.
It comes in red and grey, so you can pick the color that best suits your style. Just as with the others, it has a hem marker that can rotate around the dress form to mark all the way around your dress, skirt, or shirt.
This model is said to be for more advanced sewists, so if you’re new to the sewing world and have never used a dress form before, this may not be the right fit for you.
9. Female Dress Form Mannequin Adjustable Dress Form
Our last option isn’t nearly as adjustable as the others on our list, but we wanted to include one for those of you who were more interested in the display of your clothing than the adjustment features.
This dress form from HYNAWIN only adjusts its height, meaning the size it comes in is the only size you’ll get.
However, it still has a beautiful look that would complement any sewing room and display your work with style.