Coveting a dressmaker’s dummy

There’s something human-shaped missing from my sewing life. I’ve been coveting my very own adjustable dressmaker’s dummy for some time now.

Once upon a time, I found a ratty mannequin at a flea market in Germany. I snapped it up for 25 euro and got some funny looks on the way home, clutching this tea-stained dress form as the metro whizzed underneath Dortmund.

I ended up naming it Sally, as you do. Sally was a bit broader in the back than I was, so I couldn’t really drape accurately using the form, but it was so handy to have a general idea of what a garment would look like without having to put it on and inspect it in front of the only full-length mirror in the house.

At the moment, fitting a garment is an odious case of trial and error as I guesstimate how much needs to be taken from a waist of a dress for it not to look like a potato sack. I often feel like a human pincushion as I wiggle my way in and out of half-finished items in an effort to get the fit just right.

So I guess it’s safe to say I’m in the market for a new Sally. There are a few options I could go for:

Buy new

Probably the most expensive and un-Seamless option, there are plenty of places I could get a brand-new dress form. John Lewis have a whole host of dress forms on sale starting at £139 for the Easyfit model. Not my first port of call as you’d imagine, but John Lewis do sell some good quality sewing wares so might be worth checking out.

Second-hand or vintage

Much more Seamless-like, don’t you think? Ebay always has a few vintage or second-hand dress forms on sale, but the price will fluctuate depending on how much competition there is for your chosen dummy. You never know, you might just get lucky. Also, I spotted a few ads for second-hand dummies on auction site alternative Preloved.

Do it yourself!

Yup, it’s possible to make your very own dress form. There are several tutorials available on the internet, the most popular being the duct-tape method. A more time-consuming but potentially rewarding method involves making a plaster mould of your upper half. You’ll need a good friend to help you out with either one – needless to say, it’s far cheaper than either of the first two options.

Personally, I’ll probably go on the hunt for a second-hand dress form if I can get a good price. Sad to say, I once passed up an amazing vintage wooden dress form I found in a charity shop in Swansea. It was the worst timing really, I’d just packed everything to move out of my flat and there was definitely no room for it, but I still wonder if it would have been worth the hassle anyway.

Do you own a dressmaker’s dummy? I’m dying to know if anyone’s had any success with the duct tape method!

Could you spend five hundred pounds on clothes?

On Monday, I wore almost £500 worth of clothes.

FIVE. HUNDRED. QUID. Never in my life have I spent that much money on an outfit. Before you all start thinking I went and blew my pledge on an epic shopping spree, I should probably explain.

Over the past few weeks at Cardiff we’ve been working on different features for a Christmas supplement we’ll be putting together next week. Secret Santa style, we had to pick our articles from a hat! My friend and colleague Ellie was lucky enough to pick out women’s fashion, a topic I think all the girls were eyeing up!

A couple of us were asked to be models for the feature, so off we popped to John Lewis (where I saw Ellie Williams from the clothes swap again!) in Cardiff to get suited and booted in some donated clothes for a quick photo shoot in the furniture section. It was a bit surreal trying on various clothing from the department store, because I haven’t been shopping in so long!

mango reiss carvelaCheeky mirror photo while our lovely make-up artist Nicola does her own war paint!

What I wore:

This all added up to a whopping £495.80!

Ok, so this includes the shoes and accessories, but even £300 or so on a jacket, top and leggings seems a bit much to me. Before the pledge, I’d hesitate before spending £30 on a dress, let alone £120 on a top alone!

I did wonder… could I possibly re-make this outfit myself? The leggings would be easy if I found the right fabric, as there are plenty of leggings patterns around. Take this one at BurdaStyle for example!

The peacock top would be fairly easy to make, but I’d probably go for a cheaper fabric than silk, but with a similar drape! This pattern would actually be pretty easy to draft myself! I’ve already tried my hand at drafting a skirt (more on this soon…), so it’s about time I tried to draft a top! Otherwise, I’d probably use a lengthened version of Goldfinch and Eagle’s Port Elizabeth Pattern.

As for the trickiest part of the outfit… the jacket. I’ve eyed up a certain biker jacket pattern at BurdaStyle since they released it a few years ago, but have always shyed away because I just don’t have confidence in my sewing abilities. They’ve used a very thick woolen fabric for their version here, but the Mango jacket was made out of quite a thin leather. If I could find some leather look fabric which was as soft and comfortable, then theoretically be all set…

Have you ever remade a garment you saw on the high street? How did it go? If not… ‘fess up and tell me what’s the most you’ve ever spent on clothes in one go!