Whether you call it a tailor dummy, a dressmaker’s dummy or a dressmaker’s form, these practical items are essential to any one who sews regularly - from hobbyist to professionals, from students to haute couture designers. Tailor dummies allow you to perfect the fit of your creation by making fine changes on a human form.
For the same reason that it is so widely used, there are a great number of options in the market. This makes it difficult for amateurs, like students in fashion school, to pick out the right tailor dummy. The boom of e-commerce has been a double-edged sword: although there a greater number of options, many who lack experience in this field would inadvertently purchase a tailor dummy at a beat-down price but only to be disappointed with its quality after a couple of uses.
Here, we list three considerations that an amateur should keep in mind when buying a tailor dummy.
- Types of Tailor Dummies
Broadly, the three types of tailor dummies: fixed, adjustable and professional.
First, the fixed tailor dummy. This is the cheapest of the three and is ideal if your creation is to fit a fairly standard body measurement. As a fixed dummy is realtively cheaper, it is ideal for individuals with a small sewing business or students on a sewing project.
Secondly, an adjustable tailor dummy allows for the bust to be adjusted separately to the hips in order to get the desired shape. This is necessary only for those that are seeking to make a garment for a specific body type.
Lastly, is a professional tailor dummy. Naturally this is the costliest, but it is also the one which is most cost-effective if you are planning on reusing the tailor dummy on several projects. Typical things to look out for when purchasing a “professional” grade tailor dummy would be whether it has a fully pinnable surface and whether the pins would leave unsightly marks after use (i.e. reusable).
- Quality of the Tailor Dummy
The second and perhaps most important factor to consider is the quality of the tailor dummy. This is where the amateurs need to be extremely careful and not rush into a purchase just because a retailer is cheaper than another.
A good tailor dummy, especially for those who are seeking to do multiple creations and use for at least a couple of years, need to make that the surface of the dummy is pinnable. Ideally, it should be fully pinnable (i.e. the pin goes all the way through the dummy), but there are also good tailor dummies that are partially pinnable (the pin slides to the side). This would allow you to create drapes, visualize minor adjustments and allow for last minute adjustments during a presentation.
Next, the pins should not scar the tailor dummy upon removal. This is a big problem faced by those who commit to a cheaper and unreliable manufacturer. A well-made tailor dummy would be covered with a high-grade off white cotton canvas – anything less would leave unsightly scars on the tailor dummy after a few uses.
Lastly, the base of the tailor dummy plays a huge part in its usability. Some manufacturers would recommend a metal tripod base for stability. However we go further to suggest that a metal base with wheels would be the best base for tailor dummies. Not only do you get stability, you also get maneuverability. This is especially important if you are planning on moving your tailor dummies around when preparing for a presentation or trunk show. Needless to say, the base should also allow the height of the tailor dummy to be adjusted.
- Measurements of the Tailor Dummy
The third and final consideration when choosing a good tailor dummy is the measurement. Most professional tailor dummies are not adjustable (unless you specifically purchase the adjustable ones) and therefore should be made to showcase your creation without requiring much modification.
From our experience, several retailers who lack the experience with tailor dummies end up selling dummies that have accentuated chest or extremely small waist. This is unrealistic and not what you want to use when showcasing your designs. So be careful when purchasing a tailor dummy and it is always best to fix an appointment to view the actual product.
If you are particular about the tailor dummy’s proportion, you would need to find a retailer who is able to produce tailor dummies that give subtle emphasis (or no emphasis) on the seat, hip or even the shoulder. If this is what you need, going for an experienced and reputable mannequin or tailor dummy retailer would save you any disappointment.
Finding the best tailor dummy is a personal choice and the above considerations would serve as a good guide. One thing is for sure, tailor dummies are a necessity in the design process and should be treated as an investment.