My brand new Roxy dressform, padded in the Fabulous Fit Fitting system
In the window of the Roxy foyer. The model is wearing 2exist boxer/briefs.
So I think it was for my birthday 2 years ago, mom gave me $$ to buy a dressform.
I started my diligent research about 2 months later.
I hit up dressform websites and read pattern review of dressforms.
I measured myself, I compared to measurement charts.
And I hit a wall.
I'm a pear shape. Smaller on top than I am on bottom.
Adjustable forms would manage that, but the reviews were mostly bad. They're cheap, flimsy, fall apart (or over) easily, hard to turn the dials, can't pin into them, etc etc etc.
Professional dressforms are standard sizes throughout. Get one that matches my measurements on top, and it will be too small on the bottom. Buy one that matches my measurements on the bottom, it will be too big on top.
I had read about Fabulous Fit but had not gone further with it. Their dressforms were $700-ish (now they have some in the $300 range too) but they had a fitting system that would let you pad out the form to look like you. Gain weight? Pad it out more. Lose weight? Remove some pads. Weight stays the same but moves around? Move the pads around.
So that's where my research ended. In the meantime, mom bought a mannequin for me from a consignment shop for $20. I named her Emma. I can actually pin into her! She's smaller than me but incredibly helpful for many things. But she ends under her waistline, nary any hips, thighs, or derriere to speak of. Her back is flat as a board.
Fast forward to PR weekend in NYC, and Jill Ralston gave a demo of what her company sells--the Fabulous Fit Fitting System. This was one of the most interesting parts of the weekend for me. I was super interested in the system. You can buy the system off amazon for $69 and use it with a dressform (any dressform--I had not realized it can be any dressform) that is smaller than you are--you pad it out to look like you. She demoed it for us and it was amazing. She made a dressform look like a real person.
I bought the system and tried it with Emma. It didn't work because of Emma's aforementioned non-existent hips, thighs and derriere.
I had asked, in the course of the research, where Clever Girl bought her dressform. Antoinette is an incredibly petite woman, and was having trouble finding a form. She found her size 2 form from Roxy Display Co...in NJ. This made my eyebrows shoot up. NJ?
Roxy happens to be located in East Brunswick, NJ. Like, 15-20 min from my home.
So after FF didn't work with Emma, I went back to the Roxy site. Their professional dressforms are $250. And they are open on Saturdays. I mean, really, could the stars and the moon have aligned any better? A dressform company practically in my backyard? With the backing of trusted sewing friend? For $250? And open on Saturdays?
I planned to go there last Saturday but they were closed for the holiday weekend. Today was the day.
It's in an industrial park off the turnpike (exit 9, if you are in with that Jersey joke) and easy to find.
Picture taken from the front door of the showroom. I meant to take the pic again from the road but forgot.
Their showroom is a hoot. They sell some dressforms but tons of mannequins, in all shapes, sizes, colors (want an entirely red mannequin? how about a blue one? a silver one?), forms (hands only. head only. upper torso only. with/without heads, arms, legs?) flying like superman? Positions (sitting? standing, arms straight out? How about on all fours?) Men? Women? Children? Pets? it goes on and on).
It was less creepy once the clerk turned the lights on. I had predetermined that I would get the size 6. My bust is a 10 on the Roxy chart (remember, I usually sew 12 or 14 at the bust grading to 14 or 16 at the hip), but with FF I needed to go smaller, so I went two sizes smaller based on how much FF padded out Emma (Jill had recommended going one size smaller but after seeing how much it padded out Emma, I went two sizes smaller).
In person, a 6 is incredibly tiny. But I remembered I was padding her out and ordered the 6.
Here's the dressform section of the Roxy showroom. I had always wondered how the full size dressforms are suspended and now I know, it's like this:
Here is just one row of several rows of mannequins. Love how they're all wearing their conference lanyards:
Here are some busts:
I really wish I took pix of the all-silver mannequins.
My new dressform fit easily in my little car after folding down the seats. I was freaking out a little on the way home because the box said "half size 6" and I was afraid that maybe that meant "half size 6 dressform" instead of "half body size 6". But it was really a half body size 6. Phew!
Here are the boxes, after I opened them.
So then I brought the pieces upstairs to my sewing room.
I struggled with the written directions when it came to the part about the spring. But thankfully their website had a youtube video and then it was all clear!! So it was about 20 min start to finish, but would have been faster if I had just used the video and not the written instructions.
So here she is in her naked, just-born nascent glory: The white bits on the floor are from the styrofoam the base was embedded in.
Then I started padding her out with FF.
I was glad I had the brochure handed out at PR weekend as the FF box did not include instructions. The brochure has all the details on padding, and measuring. Thankfully I had been measured at PR Day Austin's pants fitting workshop (as a bonus we had ALL of our measurements taken, phew!)
The pads are labelled (i.e. shoulder, stomach, upper hip, bust, side back, etc etc etc) and there are filler pads too for areas that need extra padding. First you start to put the FF bodysuit on the form, like just below the shoulders, then put the shoulder pads in. Then roll it down under the bust, and put the bust pads in, etc etc etc. Then when you're done, you put the princess seam body suit over that and it smooths it out.
So here's where it was at before I put the princess seam bodysuit on it....
At that point, I had the extra filler padding in the hips. But it
doesn't need quite that much padding. It needs more than the hip
padding but less than the hip + filler padding. So for that area, I
will probably use tissues or something for the little bit more padding.
Here's the side view:
I love how it has the little belly like my little belly. But it doesn't have a sway back. I need to get more padding to pad out the upper back to create the swayback curve. I will probably buy another stomach pad and some thigh pads a la cart from the FF site and use them pad out the upper back to make the sway back curve.
Again needs slightly less padding in the hips.
Here's what it looks like without the filler pads in the hips, but with the princess seam body suit. Hrm, her hips don't look symmetrical here, but I'll have to move them anyway when I go back to make the swayback....
And here she is in one of my favorite and best-fitting-on-me dresses, Simplicity 2473:
And in another favorite dress, NL 6071:
It is a kick to see the form actually fill out the dress!
And here she is with Emma
I will let you know how she works out (and what her name is, once it comes to me! I was originally going to name her Emme so my form and mannequin would be Emme and Emma, but now I'm not sure she looks like an Emme to me.)
My cleaning mood continues. I found this in my bedroom closet. I bought it at TJ Maxx 2 years ago for $5. I think it looks pretty cool in my sewing room now.
My second rose of the year from my "garden":
Flowers from the Princeton Farmer's Market.
My favorite flower farmer has returned for another year!