How to Use a Dress Form

by Tracy Morris

For people who make their own clothing, a dress form is a useful tool to add to any sewing room. This item, which is human-shaped, closely matches the dimensions of the person for which the clothing is being sewn. Having a dress form makes multiple fittings unnecessary and eases the process of fitting and altering patterns, and hemming garments.

Items you will need

  • Dress form
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins
  • Cotton batting
  • Clothing pattern
Step 1

Measure your (or your subject's) dimensions using a tape measure. Dimensions include neck, bust, waist and hips at the widest point as well as height.

Step 2

Adjust the dress form to match these dimensions. Most recently manufactured dress forms will include dials that adjust the form to match the dimensions. Older forms may be adjusted by padding the form to the proper shape. Pad the form by pinning cotton batting onto it until the dress form matches the shape of your body or that of your subject. Early wicker forms were made to push or pull into the proper shape.

Step 3

Modify patterns by pinning the pattern directly to the dress form, overlapping seams as you go. Adjust the seam allowances as needed by changing the point where the seams meet. Changes in one area of the pattern may mean that you have to change the entire pattern by moving the neckline, button hole, collar or sleeve placement.

Step 4

Fine tune the garment as you go by trying it on the dress form while you are making it. This eliminates the need for additional fittings.

Step 5

Hem your garment by placing it on the dress form and then turning up the rough edges and pinning them at the length you wish the hem to fall.

About the Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.