My Custom Dress Form Journey (Updated 07-Oct-2020)
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
I currently have 3 dress forms (yes, 3), but none of them are really working for me when it comes to fitting garments. Sure, they help, but they don't really help me get that perfect fit. Dress forms tend to come with industry standard measurements and are symmetrical. Most human bodies have some kind of asymmetry and stand with different postures, which can be very difficult to accommodate for on a dress form. I have tried the adjustable forms, but found them to be too flimsy. I tried to create a custom form my making a duct tape form -- twice! While the duct tape form allowed me to better understand my body, using it as a dress form just wasn't working; it was awkward to work with.
On that note, I recommend making a duct form of yourself just so you can really see and understand your body (check out this tutorial on how to make one). Trust me, having this additional insight is incredibly helpful when it comes to fitting garments. I was later advised by a private sewing instructor that using the brown kraft tape (like the kind you can get at Uline) is better for this project because it won't stretch out like the duct tape.
One way to adjust for asymmetry is to pad out your dress form using a padding kit or even batting. I have tried both, and while it helped somewhat, it still wasn't great. And what if you lean to one side or more backwards or forwards? What if your torso is longer or shorter than than the dress form? You can't really change that. Let's talk about my body for a minute. My left shoulder is higher than my right shoulder, and my left shoulder blade protrudes out more than the right. I have a swayback, and my shoulders are rounded. One of my hips is higher than the other and I lean to the right when I stand. My torso is also longer than the industry standard measurement and the difference between my waist and hips is approximately 12 inches. Accounting for my body's unique physical characteristics in a dress form by padding it out has been been challenging and frustrating, Finally, I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and shell out the cash for a custom dress form based on a 3D scan of my body.
I researched custom dress forms and chose to go with Beatrice Forms. Of course, cost was a factor, but I'm also a firm believer in "you get what you pay for." Some custom dress forms can cost thousands (the Beatrice Form cost me $1,350 including delivery). But what really sold me is that Beatrice Forms is created by a husband and wife team (Alison and Nathan) who provide one-on-one personal service and are committed to quality and satisfaction. Throughout the process, you will work with either Alison or Nathan, as they are only a two person team. While this is great and lends itself for truly personal service, it means the dress form will take about 8 weeks to make. As you can see, the hardest part in this entire process is the waiting. But, I am ok with that, because I am assured it will be done right. The other companies that offer custom dress forms just seemed so... "disconnected."
With Beatrice Forms, you use an app on your phone (iPhone or iPad only) to scan your body in the comfort of your own home. Once you submit your scans, Alison and Nathan will work with you to ensure you have it just right. They are available for any questions you may have along the way, even on video chat!
As a review of my experience with Beatrice Forms, I decided would document the creation process in the form of a timeline leading up to the actual arrival of my dress form. Once I receive my form, I will be sharing it in a video review on my YouTube channel.
Timeline (check back for updates):
27-Jul-2020: Order placed online.
28-Jul-2020: The body scan kit shipped/email received with links to the "Beatrice 101" videos and an invitation to schedule my one-on-one pre-scan consultation with Alison.
01-Aug-2020: My Body scan kit was delivered. This kit includes body scan clothing (a very fitted knit top and bottom), measuring tape, elastic for the waist and bust, dot stickers, twill tape, and safety pins. When you order your Beatrice Form, you are asked to enter some of your measurements to help determine the size of the body scan clothing you will need.
02-Aug-2020: One-on-one pre-scan consultation with Alison, where we discussed what to expect, tips for scanning, understanding silhouette, and answer any questions I might have. Alison is easy to talk to, super nice and very helpful.
03-Aug-2020: Body scan day! I can't believe I'm posting a picture of my in the body scan suit, but hey, I have to learn to appreciate my body -- asymmetry and all! As you can see, the top and shorts are very fitted, but not too tight where it was uncomfortable. This allows for all your curves to show, which is super important, of course! Elastic is tied around your waist and just under your bust. The twill tape is placed around you neck, then secured with a safety pin to your bra. This is to indicate the space between your breasts. Looking at my body in this suit, I can visibly see that right hip is higher than my left and that my left trap muscle is higher than the right. This asymmetry will be captured in the 3D scan and eventually in your actual dress form, which is exactly what you want so you can make clothes that better fit you.
As noted earlier, you will need to download to the Beatrice Forms application on the Apple App Store. I have an Android phone (Pixel) and forgot that I needed to use an iPhone (or iPad). Luckily I was able to borrow my friend's iPad, which worked well. Prior to starting to scan, my scanning partner and I watched the "how to scan" video on how to scan a few times before starting the scanning process in the app. I completed the scan in my living room. You will want a well-lit 7 x 7 foot space, free of mirrors, blinking lights, and anything that would create motion (that includes pets!).
The app guides you through each step of the scanning process, and it's actually pretty easy. One thing to note is that it doesn't seem you can go back one step and complete only one video/scan. If you go back, you have to start all the way over. I completed 2 sets of scans/videos, and each set includes 6 videos/scans. You will want to take your waist measurement at the end of each set of videos and enter it into the app before uploading. Yes, actually take the measurement twice. My second measurement was .5cm more than the first.. The videos/scans were uploaded to Beatrice Forms directly from the app once each set was complete, and you will get a message on the screen letting you know your upload is complete. Note, you will not receive an automatic email notification that your scans were received. As noted below, Nathan emailed me the next day to let me know my scans were received and in queue for processing.
04-Aug-2020: Received email from Nathan advising my scans were received and are in queue for processing. He let me know my position in queue and that I can expect results sometime tomorrow.
05-Aug-2020: Received email from Nathan letting me know my scans are still processing and that I can expect results tomorrow.
06-Aug-2020: Received email from Nathan informing me that the scans I uploaded were great and that they have everything they need to move forward. He advised that my scans were now in queue for editing and that they would start on them in about 3-4 weeks. I was not surprised at this, as Alison previously informed me this part takes the longest and was already aware that it would take approximately 8 weeks in total for my dress form to be built.
11-Sep-2020: Received Nate let me know he would be working on my model the following week.
20-Sep-2020: My 3D model was ready for review for my approval. I had some questions for Nate to ensure my measurements/form was correct, to which he replied promptly, and after Nate's responses and reviewing the scans, I was satisfied that my model was accurate and approved for production.
02-Oct-2020: Notified that my form was shipped via USPS.
07-Oct-2020: Form delivered! Nicely packaged and great quality. Now, to film my full video review. From date of online order to delivery: 72 days
Learn more about Beatrice Forms.
*** This post is not sponsored in any way, and I paid for the dress form with my own money. This is my honest, unbiased review ***