Friday, March 7, 2014

What You Need In A Dress Form: A PGM Dress Form Review

Earlier this week I shared my new craft room tour and showed a quick pic of one of its recent additions: a proper dress form.  Now it's time to share more about this lovely lady:

I sew a lot of children's clothing, but haven't really done as much apparel for myself despite that being the thing I wanted to do most when I learned to sew.  Being on the petite side, but having curves at the hips & back, it's tough for me to find clothing or patterns that fit well.  It's also hard to do alterations when you're standing in front of a mirror & trying to pin something you're wearing, so a dress form is a tool worth having.

When PGM contacted me and asked if I'd like to review one of their dress forms, I was thrilled.  PGM makes the forms that fashion schools, clothing manufacturers and designers use.  They also been used on Project Runway. They offered me the Industry Pro 601 Ladies Dress Form model and I paid the shipping cost.  I selected a size 6 after following their directions to determine size needed. It took a little time to measure all over, but it was worth it so I could get as close a match to my real measurements.  They do offer custom sized forms as well and colored options like these.  Super pretty, aren't they:

I'd gotten an inexpensive plastic dress form a while ago, but it was designed more for display use than dressmaking, so I didn't really use it apart from photographing finished items on and I never pieced things together on it because it was only vaguely close to my size.  This one was very different.  The contours of this form are more realistic than most dress forms - the bust and backside have definition like a real body for a more accurate.  Yes, it's cheeky around the back, which I love;)

It also helps that there are ridged "bump out" side seams so you can easily find them when altering to line your garment up just right.   

There are also handy seams for piecing and determining marking points which is very helpful too, especially for designing your own items:

The height can be easily adjusted thanks to a foot pedal.  This is really valuable to me since it means I can actually have it at my real height, unlike my old form on a wooden base.

I can even bring it up high enough to hem skirts while standing.  And speaking of hemming, it's a lot easier to get a uniform hem and precisely measure with by using the cage section at the bottom

The part I like best about it is that it is pinnable.  This doesn't mean you can just stab into it, but pins go in nicely at an angle so doing on-the-form draping and designing is a possibility. 

There's also a handy collapsible shoulder feature to make it easier to get clothing on and off. 

It's on the heavy side, but the iron base has wheels to make it easy to move around.  The form I'd had before was hollowed out plastic and so light it was a bit tippy by comparison. And decor-wise it's got a fun vintage look with the linen outer & metal finial, so it looks nice sitting out.

I'm really looking forward to styling some custom clothing for myself using the draping method, since the form is the exact size I need:

Price wise this form is a bit more than a lot of the adjustable plastic versions or shop display forms out there, but it's the real deal.  The key features above make it worth the extra cost in my mind and they do offer discounts for students and have special deals and sales announced on their Facebook page. One thing I've learned in sewing is that good tools are an investment - cutting corners to save a few bucks usually costs extra time and effort and is the difference between a homemade and custom made look for clothing.  I'd much rather people ask if I made what I'm wearing because it's a great fit, rather than because it looks "not quite right" so it couldn't have been bought in a store!

I was not financially compensated for this post .  I received the PGM Dress Form shown, to review & use as I desired. The opinions are completely my own based on my experiences.  


  1. That looks like an awesome dress form. I have a rather flimsy one that I purchased at a yard sale. I never even thought about looking for a better quality dress form. Thanks for the information. By the way, I like your apron too. Can you let me know the pattern information for it? Thanks Kathy

    1. I'll admit I hadn't either and now see what a difference it can make. And yes, you can find my free how to for making my reversible apron here:


  2. Replies
    1. Aren't those fabulous? They have a slew of colors to pick from so you could even pick your preferred shade of green!

  3. I would love to have a dressform like this one. The features are great and it looks nice as well. Sounds like a good investment for anyone who likes to design and make well-fitting clothes. Lucky you to have one!

    1. I always wanted one and cheaped out with the first and it wasn't much better than not having any. This one is SO much better and I think it's going to really change how I make clothing for the better.

  4. I appreciate your analysis and thorough review. I am looking for a good durable dress form that will last for years. The ones I am seeing in the stores for under $200 are very cheap-feeling and each has its own limitations. While this form doesn't claim to be adjustable it does have a realistic body shape and comes in many sizes.

    1. Now that I've been using mine for nearly a year I don't know how I lived without it. It's a MUCH better quality and more realistic shape than the flocked plastic adjustable ones they sell in the big box stores.


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