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Choosing and setting up a Prymadonna Dressform

Prymadonna Dressform Set up

The Prymadonna dressform is just one of the dressforms available on the market today and is a good value adjustable dressform to help you get the best fit and make alterations when you are making your own clothes. As it is easily adjustable, you can make small adjustments as your body shape changes if you gain or lose a bit of weight! 

You can use the dressform for a number of things as you sew, for example:

1. Fit a tissue pattern to your body shape and make adjustments before you cut into your precious fabric!

2. Drape your fabric over the dressform to see if it hangs in the right way for your chosen pattern.

3. Positioning correctly for darts and buttonholes etc.

4. Check hem lengths for shirts or skirts/dresses to see how a garment will look on your body shape.

5. Show off your own creations!

  It is very important to choose the correctly sized dressform for your usual body measurements – not your ‘dress size’, which can vary widely for shop-bought clothing. How many times have you bought a size 12 in one shop, only to find you need a size 16 in another shop – it has happened to me! 

The Prymadonna dressform comes in four versions for different body sizes:

XS:  Chest: 76 – 91cm; Waist: 56 – 71cm; Hips: 79 – 94cm

S: Chest: 84 – 100cm; Waist: 66 – 84cm; Hips: 91 – 109cm

M: Chest: 100 – 116cm; Waist: 82 – 99cm; Hips: 104 – 122cm

L: Chest: 112 – 127cm; Waist: 94 – 109cm; Hips: 119 – 132cm

 As the dressforms are adjustable within these measurements, choose the one that has the range closest to your body measurements by checking your bust, waist and hip measurements. 

I was pretty much between the S and M version so I chose the M version as I do not tend to make very fitted clothing. I prefer my clothing a bit looser so this suits my needs. If you sometimes wear more fitted clothing, it may be better to choose the size based on your smallest measurement(s) so you can pad the rest of the form later – there are numerous tutorials online to help you do this.

See this article from Threads that helps you pad a dressform to your true shape to allow for sagging etc. especially as our figures mature! It’s important to get the dressform to mirror your own body as closely as possible for a true fit.

How to set up a tailor's dummy

The dressform arrived well packaged and needing minimum assembly with an illustrated instruction sheet showing how to make the adjustments on the dressform and which knobs and dials to use for each adjustment. 

Dressform stand

Unpack the dressform and attach the feet by pushing them into the dressform stand. 

How to choose a tailor's dummy

Place the dressform onto the stand. You can then start to adjust the dressform to your own measurements and it may be easier to get someone to help you with this. The instructions do not help with how to measure your body so it is worthwhile reading this article to help you measure the right points, and grab a friend to help! 

You can adjust the neck circumference using the knob on the top of the dressform where you press down and turn. There are no measurements on here so use your tape measure for this to open out the neck to the right size. There is also a handy pincushion on the neck piece for use when you are adjusting your sewing.

Adjusting a dressform
what to consider when buying a dressform

Adjustments on the main body can be made in inches or cm using the front knobs and wheels on the side and back of the dressform. The wheels are quite stiff to turn and I found it hurt my fingers a bit so take your time. There are thirteen adjustments you can make on the dressform.

How to adjust the waist or chest on the Prymadonna

If you are long or short waisted, you can adjust the position of the waist in relation to the bust by adjustable knobs inside the dressform. This dressform also has an elaborated shoulder section – this ensures that the sleeves always fall in the right position. 

Measuring yourself for a dressform

Once you have set your measurements for the bust, waist and hips, adjust the height of the dressform to sit at shoulder height. It’s then a great idea to get someone to look at you standing next to the dressform – does it resemble your body shape? Have you measured in the right places? Check all your measurements once again and adjust as necessary. The instruction sheet diagram can help with the correct placement for measurements.

Sewing dressform from Prym

I also recommend you select a garment that fits you well and try it on the dressform to see if it fits like it fits you! This should indicate if any of the measurements are incorrect and need adjustment.

Tailor's dummy with hem marker

Also included is a skirt marker with pin fixing. This allows for the model’s length and hem to be marked at the correct position – something it is very hard to do on yourself when trying on a garment! 

The Prymadonna dressform will be a very useful addition to your sewing workroom, if you are a dressmaker. Find out more about the dressform here. Check out your local stockist of Prym products here.