Sunday, July 18, 2010

taking it up a notch

I want to take my sewing up a notch.  A few months ago, I started asking myself "Why am I still sewing at this level? Why haven't I sewn a tailored jacket for myself yet? Or a lined sheath dress for myself?".    I have sewn some nice things for other people, but still not sewing as well as I could for myself.
The answer: I need more instruction.  I need help with fitting.

And now, a sequence of events has begun that will take me where I want to go.  I had my first lesson with Susan Khalje last month and we covered a LOT of ground in the afternoon we spent together.  I used the muslin from that lesson to sew a dress already and this weekend I sewed another muslin that will go to Englewood, New Jersey for my dress form. 

This time, I took darts out of the sleeve cap to get a smooth fit. 

This makes me a little breathless: I am getting a custom-made dress form from Wolf Forms.  You can see a video here about how these dress forms are made.  I considered getting a My Twin dress form, geography played a big role in the decision.  New Jersey is close and California is far.

I want to discuss this just a little bit - a custom made dress form is certainly not necessary for most people.  In fact, Susan showed me an example of a Roxy dress form that she recommends to her students.  It is a much less expensive option. In the draping class taught by Susan and Julien Cristofoli, they spend the first day padding out the forms to match the students' measurements.

But I have a little experience with this.  I already own a Fabulous Fit Dress Form and it works about the same way as the Roxy.  I had a really great experience when I bought this dress form back in 2003.  I called and spoke with someone about my measurements and she helped me decide on a rather small form in order to accomodate my shoulders.  When I got it, I padded it out with the foam pads and some quilt batting and it has served me pretty well.  Not great, just pretty well.  The problem I have with a standard size dress form is that ... well ... you can see it here:

I could not resist including the cute guy who hangs out in my sewing room with me :)
OK, where was I ... the dress form.  The dress form's bosom starts higher than the bosom on yours truly.  Unless I get out the electric turkey carving knife, there is not much I can do.  And of course, the back and shoulders are not at all like my back and shoulders.

So, this is just a short version of how I came to this decision.  It is a big decision.  I went up to Wolf in June and got measured.  I came home and fretted quite a bit that I my measurements seemed too big.  (Had I gained weight?  Was it a fluctuation?  Somehow my waist was up by 4 inches- yikes!)
It wasn't purely a vanity issue - it was a practical issue.  This dress form will be my fitting buddy for a long time.  It is OK if I go up in size because I can always pad it out.  But if my size goes down - well that's not as good.  So I called them back and said, "Don't start my dress form yet!"  The company was closing for a few weeks in July for vacation, so we agreed I would come back after then to be re-measured.   Tomorrow is the day I call to re-schedule.  (yippeeee!!) 
[And I did drop those extra inches very quickly by keeping an eye on food portions and increasing the exercise.  I feel better, too!]

I discussed this with Susan during my lesson.  It was really helpful to get her opinion and she agreed that the Roxy wasn't going to work well for me; if I'm willing to spring for the Wolf- then that is really the best option.

Now, I feel I have only written a summary, so feel free to ask if you are curious about anything.  When I go back, I intend to take my camera and take pictures.  When we were there last, it was a very enjoyable visit.  We got a tour of the work areas and met the people who craft the dress forms.  They are a very friendly company and they take pride in their product.
OH, and YES, I did try to make a duct tape dummy.  LOL.  That did not work.  
OK, it is time to eat.  One more thing- look at the new front garden! A camelliia bush, daphnes and lariapes.
woo hooo

Happy Sewing!


  1. Wow, a custom dress form sounds amazing. If you aren't happy with your fit it makes it hard to sew thing s you are really happy with.
    Your front yard has lovely new plants, and I hate to correct you but I think you mean liriope. Lovely, grass like perennial that has purple flowers and black berries after it blooms? All sound like lovely choices for your climate. Are they spring blooming or fall blooming camelias? So many lovely choices are hardy these days.

  2. I don't know if I told you this before but I've been to the Wolf factory in Englewood to see some custom dressforms being made. It is a pretty awesome adventure and I'm happy for you that you will be getting a duplicate of yourself.

    These would be one of the first things I would buy if I won the lottery! Can't wait to see the pics of your visit!

  3. Wow, what a treat!! Don't feel bad about getting yourself a great tool!! I look forward to reading your report on the process.

  4. You really put a lot of thought into choosing the Wolf form. It will make sewing for yourself so much more enjoyable.

  5. What a treat, looking forward to seeing it, and think you were right to wait a bit.
    And must follow your lead and loose a few centimeters, that should be my goal first because I need new pants for fall/winter.
    And just looked at the wedding gown you made, which I hadn't seen before: it's beautiful. You're certainly up to a tailored jacket or something like that. You just didn't make it for yourself, time to do that.

  6. Congratulations on the Wolf Dress Form. From all accounts you will be delighted. I know I'm happy for you :o)!

    It's on my wish list but I need to lose some weight :o) so I have the Fabulous Fit which I am actually padding out this weekend. I just finished the moulage which I will use as the cover and pad it out. I will let you know how it goes.

  7. Oh, how I wish I could have one too! I would be willing to pay whatever price. Well, I suppose I could travel to the US, wait for it to be made and then pay for an extra plane ticket back...perhaps too expensive. Can't wait to see your double :)

  8. My dress form used to be the same size as me, but she seems to have shrunk ;)
    I found the only thing that annoyed me about her was the underbust region which slopes gently to the waist - so it wasn't suitable for fitting empire lines.

  9. Robin,
    I have been trying to decide whether or not to spring for a wolf form, myself. I will be very interested to see how it works out for you. Congratulations on your decision to step it up a bit with your sewing. I always think your sewing is fantastic. I can't wait to see what you make in the future!

    :)Deb M.

  10. I think one of the reasons people lose their sewing mojo might be they don't step it up a bit but instead turn to churning out the usual. Congrats for inspiring us, and I too am looking forward to seeing your new Wolf.

  11. Oh lots of goodies in this post...Susan Khalje :)...your very own Wolf dress form..fittings...this is a definitely wonderful time of life for you and well deserved and nice to see you are enjoying every minute. I loved reading this post.
    A great inspiration and I can't wait to hear all about your form.


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