Dressmaker Dummies For Pattern Cutters.
Are you looking for a dressmakers dummy suitable for learning how to cut patterns ? There are a huge variety of dummies available, and several different terms to describe them :- Dressmakers dummies; Tailors dummies; Mannequins; dress forms; body forms. In the fashion trade we just call them stands.
Modelling On The Stand.
Professional Pattern cutters may refer to modelling on the stand, or draping on the stand. This is how we work. Yes, we use flat pattern cutting methods too. In truth, we use a mix of the two methods to obtain the best results. But we dont spend our time drafting from A to B to C. And we dont bother too much with pattern cutting theory.
Ultimately what counts is how the garment fits on the body, and the stand is meant to mimic that body. So, why use theory when you have a real 3D figure right in front of you – One that has been finely tuned to represent the perfect average shape.
Our Pattern Cutting Classes.
We at The London Pattern Cutter, are specifically interested in dressmaker dummies for use with our pattern cutting lessons. We encourage the use of draping on the stand, in conjunction with flat pattern cutting for our students. We love to model on the stand to properly learn about how to cut patterns in our home based pattern cutting classes. Right from the very start we throw the theory book out of the window and start with getting our students to make a block for the dummy, using the dummy.
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What Properties Should A Dummy Have ?
For pattern cutting purposes a dressmakers dummy needs : To be the correct size; height adjustable; anatomically realistic; and pinnable ( you need to be able to stick pins in it ). It also needs to have reference lines, or a writable surface so that you can mark your own lines.
All professional dummies should possess these properties. And it is possible to buy really cheap dummies that have all these properties, but with out the durability, or quality of a professional version.
Some mannequins are made with additional ease incorporated into the form. This may be for fitting coats or jackets, that are worn over other garments. Other mannequins are more representative of the human body, so have no ease at all.
Economy Polystyrene Dummies.
We are presently testing an economy polystyrene dummy to see if it is a practical, although temporary alternative to a professional stand for our students to use from home.
This dummy is very light. It has a soft, removable cover that we remove so that we can mark all the important points in a black felt pen. We mark the centre front; centre back; side seams; neck; bust line; waist line; and hip line.
The shape is far from perfect, it wont withstand years of pinning, and those pins have to be inserted at a right angle, so are not that secure. But it serves our general purpose for learning how to cut patterns on the stand.
If these prove to be satisfactory, we would be able to recommend them for students of our online pattern cutting courses.
Types Of Dummy.
There are three types of dummy depending on body part – Hip dummy; full leg dummy; torso dummy; full body dummy.
Each of these can be divided into more specialised areas, such as swimwear or coats. But for our purposes, we are only interested in the torso dummy.
This dummy has limited use as it is just for skirts. Only really for large organisations, or for specialist skirt pattern cutters.
Full Length Legs.
Used for trousers or skirts. Really useful for fitting trousers.
Useful for all sorts of garments, including tops, dresses, jackets, and coats. There are many types of torso dummies for different shapes, and different garments. A jacket or coat dummy will have ease built in to represent under clothing. It would also include a shoulder pad allowance.
Full Length Dummy.
These are not cheap, but can be great for a wide variety of garment types.
Stands For Dressmakers.
Whereas a dressmaker would either want to use the dummy to make clothes for themselves, or a variety of differently shaped clients, a pattern cutter normally just needs to make patterns for one standard size. For ladies that is usually a size 10 or 12. For men probably 38″ or 40″. For children it can be any mid size for a particular range of sizes.
The professional pattern cutter will become very familiar with exactly how a pattern for that one size should look. A tailor or dressmaker on the other hand, needs to familiarise themselves with an enormous variety of different shapes and sizes. In fact they will have a disproportionate number of clients with more extreme body shapes.
A Tailor usually relies on his drafting skills and a formula rather than a mannequin. Over time he will learn to adapt his formula for each client. The dressmaker will often have an adjustable figure, or they may use padding to adjust a basic stand.
Dressmakers may prefer to use an adjustable stand that covers a range of sizes. They come in a soft These are acceptable for what they are. They come in a soft covering, which makes them pinnable. But they would not be suitable for pattern cutting purposes.
Different years have different shapes depending not just on the natural body shape of the time, but also influenced by the under garments of the era.
DIY Custom Body Forms.
There are some quite interesting methods for making bespoke DIY body forms, involving an old T shirt and duck tape. They are cheap, but time consuming and fiddly to make. There are also patterns available to make your own stands from. None of them are pinnable.
Swimwear And Sportswear Dummies.
Dummies for swimwear, lingerie and sportswear need to have different qualities to standard dummies. They need to have extra give to mimic the human body`s flexibility. Intimate / swimwear figures for compressionwear.
How Much Is A Dressmakers Dummy ?
Prices can vary enormously, depending on what you need it for and how much you are willing to pay. You can pick up a very cheap polystyrene dummy for around £28.
A good professional dummy on the other hand, will cost hundreds, or even several thousands of pounds, but will last a lifetime, with a re-covering every thirty years or so. A good mannequin is a great investment for anyone serious about pattern cutting.
Some dummies may be used for display purposes, while others are used for fitting garments. For our purposes, we are just interested in the ones for fitting garments. Display mannequins are totally unsuited for this purpose primarily because the body shape tends to be totally idealistic and unreal.
Some people would like their stand to have collapsible shoulders. This means that they can fit styles they would not otherwise be able to fit because they wouldnt slide over the shoulders.
Professional stands do come with collapsible shoulders, which really does make things easier. They are more expensive, but considering how long they will last, it is well worth opting for this version.
For most people detachable arms are not an essential for a dressmakers dummy, but they are quite handy so to speak. Without an arm anything with a sleeve tends to look quite empty, without body, or fulness.
Shop Display Dummy.
Shop display dummies may be very cheap. I have often had clients come to me who have been using these dummies to fit their patterns on. The trouble is that they are worse than useless. They are a grotesquely distorted idea of the human for – Idealised beyond recognition in order to sell clothes. They have a hard surface, so are unpinnable.
Where Can I Buy A Stand ?
If you are just looking for a cheap option, then Amazon is always a good place to start. There are always plenty of sellers for all types of stands. Ebay is good if you would like to buy a second hand dummy, although older ones may need re-covering.
If you are serious about pattern cutting or dressmaking, then you need to buy a professional stand. Morplan is a favoured place for students to buy all their supplies. It has a good variety of stands for both dressmakers and for professional pattern cutters. They sell K&L dummies, as well as ones that sell under their own label.
Kennet & Lindsell Ltd.
You can always go directly to K&M to see their full range of stands.
Covered in foam and linen.
The Alvaforms are amongst the very best mannequins for professional use. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but they are very realistic.
Custom made Mannequins.
It is possible to have a custom made mannequin , but the price would be prohibitive for most individuals, or small businesses.
Centre Back Length.
It is common practise in the pattern cutting world to make the centre back neck to waist length longer than most stands allow for. This is because we build in some excess length in order to make one size fit as many customers as possible.
Hiring A Dummy.
Some places do hire out dummies, but they can work out expensive doing it that way.
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