I’m a 90s kid, ya’ll. And I used to rock dungarees back in the day. Not only are dungarees/pinafores/overalls, comfy – I actually think they can be super flattering when styled appropriately.
With that said, I just had to get my hands on this uber adorable Cleo Pinafore from Tilly and the Buttons. I think this is a nice gateway into sewing with denims and twills
and getting my topstitching game on. I decided to do the mini length version, but in future I might just try the longer length with the front split.
I simply cannot resist buying all the thingz whenever I peruse fabric online or visit a fabric store on a Saturday morning, which is my favourite thing to do when I need a little pick-me-up. Raise your hand if this is you?
The first two turned out amazing! I stuck to the pattern, made both of them in a size 14 (slightly bigger than what was required for my measurements, but I love loose-fitting dresses) and I have literally worn them every week since I first made them.
This blog has been months in the making! I’ve been wanting to do a rebrand for a long time now. I changed all my social media handles at the very end of last year to get a head start and to get familiar with my new identity.
When I was approached by Figure Forms to send me one of their Tailor’s Friend® dressmaker forms, I was immediately on board.
I have always wanted a proper dressmaker form ever since I saw the contestants of Project Runway draping their designs on them. Speaking of the reality show, did you know that this popular Tailor’s Friend® form was featured on Project Runway South Africa? Pretty awesome, right?
Before I get started, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Figure Forms. They are manufacturers of dressmaker and designer forms, fit mannequins and display torsos. When I first visited their site last year, I was actually quite shocked at how many types of forms existed! The Tailor’s Friend® range was developed to cater for entry-level designers, fashion students and home dressmakers, so this is the perfect addition to my sewing room and I’m so excited to create new designs on her.
They’re based in Cape Town, and I’m an advocate of supporting local, so this is a big plus for me. Their products are made to order, and for the Tailor’s Friend® dress form there is about a 2-3 week lead time. They do keep limited stock in their warehouse, but this is, of course, dependant on the colour and size that you want.
However, when that package arrives on your doorstep, I can’t tell you how exciting it is to unbox it. Oh wait, I can! Here’s the unboxing video I made, in case you haven’t seen it.
Unboxing my Tailor’s Friend® dressmaker form from Figure Forms
I’m so impressed with the quality of this form, especially seeing as how affordable it is. The hardware on this form – especially the stainless steel neck plate at the top and the arm plate on the sides add that extra touch that speaks to how well it is made.
What about the sizing?
The Tailor’s Friend® forms are available in sizes 8/32,10/34,12/36 and 14/38. When deciding what size to get, I opted for a size 34. I’m going to explain why I chose this size, so that you can make an informed decision on which size may be better suited to you.
The TF-34 in particular has the following measurements:
Bust Circumference Measurement
Waist Circumference Measurement
Hip Circumference Measurement
My measurements are slightly bigger than those listed above, so why did I opt for a size 10/34, you ask? One word: PADDING! Did you know that you could easily pad a dress form to achieve your desired body shape? It’s easier to upsize a mannequin than it is to downsize one, for obvious reasons.
I have a pear-shaped body type, so my hips are much wider than my bust. While my bust and waist measurements are pretty much on point for the TF-34, my hips are definitely not 93.5cm, they’re actually 101cm, but this is okay – I can simply pad this form to achieve my own body shape. I plan to do a post on some dress form hacks like this in the near future, so do keep an eye out for that.
Brighten up your workspace with these vibrant colours
The dress form is covered in a nylon lycra (spandex) material, and it’s available in a variety of colours as seen in this little swatch book here. Your colour options are beige, grey, pink, black or red.
While I wish I could have one in every colour, I have always had my eye on this neutral beige colour, so I thought this would be a good option for my first one.
Seam lines fit for a princess
The first thing I noticed about this form are the seams and waistline marking with the ribbon. Let me tell you, I have been working on a cheap dinky little form since 2010 with absolutely no princess seam lines or waist line, so this is a game changer for me! These lines can also be found in the back of the torso, so draping my designs are going to be a breeze now.
It’s fully pinnable!
There is something I absolutely need to share with you about this form… it’s fully pinnable. FULLY PINNABLE! Those of you who have dressmaker forms that are not fully pinnable will appreciate what I mean here when I say, it’s fully pinnable.
The form is made in a rigid (hard) polyurethane foam, which basically means you can stick your pins right in the body of the form. Don’t believe me? Check out this photo here where I placed my seam gauge next to one of my dressmaker pins to give you an idea of the size.
As you can see, I inserted about half of my pin in the body. With my previous dinky form, I couldn’t pin into the body at all. I literally had to stick it sideways into the pantyhose-like material and hope my calico/muslin didn’t fall off.
A quick tip
Use a separate stash of pins specifically for draping. When pinning deep into the body like this sometimes the residue of the foam could get on your pins which wouldn’t be ideal for pinning into fabric afterwards, so rather keep your draping pins in a separate little box.
As you can tell from my unboxing video, this dress form is pretty easy to setup.
The dress form has a height-adjustable knock-down steel tripod base. One thing I love about the height-adjustable feature of this dress form is that I could raise it high enough so I could drape skirts and not have to bend over. Another useful fact about this feature is that you could adjust it to your height and use this to determine the best hemline length for your garments, especially for those dramatic maxi dresses! Another box ticked here.
Here’s a closeup of the stainless steel rod.
Sturdy and oh so purdy
As mentioned earlier, it comes with a steel tripod base that is epoxy coated. Now, I’m not going to bore you with these technical terms, so to describe it I’d say it has a cast iron sort of feel to it, making this dress form quite sturdy.
They even threw in this cute holder with a measuring tape! These measuring tapes are specially imported from Germany by a brand called Hoechstmass (Made in Germany). It is a sturdy quality, general purpose measuring tape made from quality polyfibre material in this yellow/white colour with black lettering in the metric number system (both sides in cm), and both ends have a metal tip.
One thing I absolutely love about a measuring tape like this is that the same number system appears on either sides of the tape, but in opposite directions. This means that when you’re measuring, it doesn’t matter which side you use, you can easily plot your measurements. Have you ever grabbed any old measuring tape and proceeded to measure, only to realize you used the wrong end of the tape? With this tape you won’t have that issue anymore. All these little things can improve your sewing experience.
This bad boy is coming with me wherever I go because every good seamstress needs a measuring tape in her handbag.
I’ve been very anti-social on social media lately. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it may have something to do with the immense loss I’ve experienced earlier this year due to my Dad’s passing. I’m doing a lot better now, and have slowly but surely started sewing my way into a better mood again.
These past few months have been rough. My Dad passed away just before the New Year and I was crushed. I still am, crushed. And I don’t think I will ever be the same. It’s been a tough few months, but I am finally at a place where I’m feeling better, and ready to be myself again.
August is going to be the month of getting out of my comfort zone.
I started a new health regime and I said YES to doing a talk on “Power Dressing” at the Nia Azuri Beauty Spa “A Woman’s Worth” event. I knew I just had to make myself a one-of-a-kind dress to wear to the talk. It is inspired by the Victorian era – my favourite fashion era, might I add – and I’m so inlove with the detail and the high necklines. I tried my hand at a fabric manipulation technique called “pin tucks” and I’m so amazed at how these turned out!