How To Customize a Dress Form

Custome Size Your Dress FormIf you do much sewing  for yourself I can’t tell you how indispensable a dress form is. Sure you can try what your making on and pin it but that gets so tiring and if you ever plan on doing any original designs which include draping, well then you really have to buy one! The problem is they are very expensive. It’s easy to find them used on Craigslist and I have seen a few in thrift shops and at flea markets. If you do buy one used it really should have one measurement that fits you and that is the high bust measurement, the area above your chest and going under the armpits. You also should never buy one that is bigger than you because as you can see you can pad it to fit perfectly. If your lucky you will find one that fits you perfectly.
This is my dress form that my husband bought for me when we were still dating and I was turning 23. It was a pretty extravagant gift at the time costing about 500 dollars if I remember correctly. It is a WOLF form, one of the best ones in the industry. You don’t have to buy one this expensive, Singer makes an adjustable one that cost about 200 dollars.  Now as you can see it is too small for me now. I guess I can blame those four kids for that ! I can pretend I’m still the same size or I can get realistic and drape my projects on a form that will actually resemble me. My high bust measurement is still the same as it was back then so all the form needs is a little padding.
 You can find expensive kits on the internet for about 100$  or you can simply do it yourself like this:
Use an old bra that fits you if the form is too small in the bust line and pad it till it fills the bra. Measure to make sure you haven’t overstuffed it!


Pad the waistline with batting. Buy the kind that comes in a roll like a sheet. Wrap it around the waist till you get the right size. I had to go from 26″ to 28 1/2.


Buy one of those shaper tanks and pull it over. Adjust padding if you need to and double check your measurements. She looks a little lumpy to me but it should work. We’ll see…
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  1. Danièle says

    This is so ingenius! I am a big big fan of dress forms, and I think I told you before that I wanted an old fashion wicker one for decorative purposes (and mostly copy Rhoda’s apartment feel in the Mary Tyler Moore Show hehe). And wow you have 4 kids, and gained a just a couple inches, GRRR you!! 😉 (kidding!)

  2. Sew Country Chick says

    Thanks Danilele, I’ve heard the flea markets in PA are really great. Just like Europe there are more old things to be found than here in California where anything older than 50 years is considered an antique:) I found a really neat old cardboard dress form from the 40’s the other day and I almost bought it for decor too but I don’t have room in my house.

  3. Christine says

    I don’t know why I’ve never thought of putting a fitted shirt over the top. My dress form looks like Frankenstein with the padding patchwork and duct-tape covering it. I’m going to have to snatch up a shaped tank to cover her up!

  4. says

    I came across your blog while searching for bust adjustment ideas for dressmaker’s forms.

    The fitted shirt over the top is a fantastic idea! I’m finally getting around to adjusting my dress form to my measurements, and she looks rather silly standing there, just in a bra! I was using tissue to stuff the bra – but I’ll have to go and use some batting instead, will probably be a little less lumpy and less telling (tissue takes me back to a young teen, trying to fill my bra out! Ha!)

  5. says

    This is awesome! I am much ’rounder than my adjustable dress from so even when the measurements are ‘right’ it really isn’t right. I did ‘donate a bra to the cause a long time ago but it didn’t occur to me to pad and cover the whole thing. That is what I will be doing today! Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. says

    This is a great idea! I already have everything I need to do this! Thank you for sharing…you’re a genius (^_^)

  7. says

    i just recently bought a used dress form with the same idea you have, but it sure is good to see someone who has already done it. Yeah…..thank you so much. i now have my motivation!

  8. says

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