Monday, February 18, 2008

Le Mannequin!
Entry no.I

I have just returned from visiting my family in the U.S. and a doing a workshop in Ann Arbor Michigan for the Ann Arbor Fiber Arts Guild on the subject of mannequins, fitting and draping.

It is always such a pleasure to work with such creative, involved, open, extremely supportive women. I loved it!

I have received many requests for how to choose a mannequin, what to look for, which brand? I began discussing the shape of what one might look for and the questions then became more specific. I have taken photos of dressforms and sewing mannequins from <> I have used this site as I feel it is a good start in terms of price and selection.

My suggestions come from my personal experience. I speak about what I have learned along the way, and hope that what I share here will help direct you.

The number one question:

How do I know if a dressform is for display or for draping and fitting?

These followoing 4 photos are of display mannequins. The shoulders are extended, and the torso is long and thin. There is generally no shape for the derriere, nor are the proportions in general very realisitc. The stand is also an indication; it is made of wood and attractive to display in a window, (or sometimes made of round flat metal, not so easily to balance when draping a garment) A fitting mannequing will have a base of metal with feet or extentions which allow for balance. The material for the body is a type of hardened styrofoam. You can pin into it, but in fact, it becomes rather "chewed up" and is not covered with a muslin but a knit which makes it difficult to pin into correctly for draping. The ideal material is a heavy paper maché or cardboard type material which holds up through years of working with toile.

Early in my experience in France, a friend gave me one of these to use until I could afford a more professional one. I built her up, covered her with the proper material and then a muslin but the base was always the big problem.

As you can see with this body, once again, the shoulders are extended, and the base is for looks not for balance.

I am always happy to see mannequins that reflect reality and this might have been a good choice for a fuller figure, however, the shoulders are too extended for general fitting ( I have one which has very extended shoulders and it is for draping evening, off the shoulder garments) and the base is not balanced.

This one looks like a dream come true!! She has arms, she has a shaped backside, she is balanced in terms of shape and could be easily built up, she has the possibility of wearing pants!!!!!! Well, unfortunately all the elements I have already mentioned are also present here. Although you cannot see the base it is a display base, not a working "draping mannequin" style base. In fact you don't want this type of arm. If you look closely, our arms don't fall from our bodies in this way. These arms are bowed. It is much better to make your own arm after building your mannequin to fit your body, then grade the arm pattern to fit your shape. Although she has a snug muslin cover, she is still made of the styrofoam display mannequin material.

Let me say that if you get any one of the above for free, take it, and practice on it. Then save your $$ for a better one.

Please feel free to contact me at for any querries or comments!

The next post will be to explain adjustable mannequins and professional forms, the differences and the possibilities.

No comments:

Post a Comment