Introducing My Rockin’ Roxy Display Dress Form!
I’m so excited to tell you about my Christmas gift to myself: a new professional dress form! I finally decided to replace my pitiful duct tape form with a fancy professional dress form so I can finally learn how to drape. Even though it took an entire day to make it, I’ve never used the duct tape form because she lost her shape and couldn’t remain upright without falling over. After the duct tape drama, I decided that I wanted a form that could be easily adjusted if I gain or lose weigh (I’m not a fan of the adjustable forms at the fabric stores). It felt great to throw my duct tape disaster out with the trash :). Clearly, it was time for an upgrade! lol.
I am a doctoral-level trained researcher, so rest assured that I did my homework before making a final decision (I can’t stop myself from researching everything :). I read an extensive dress form review in the March 2006 (#123) issue of Threads, scoured the Internet for dress form reviews, and compared several brands including Fabulous Fit (I ruled them out because of some negative reviews regarding their clearance dress forms), Roxy Display, PGM, Andy’s Dress Forms, Royal, Wolf. After eliminating Wolf and Royal based on their high price tags, I called PGM and Roxy Display and asked several questions (Andy’s Dress Forms didn’t answer the phone). My goal was to find something sturdy that would last many years until I am ready to upgrade to a Wolf, if that ever becomes necessary.
According to the representative at Roxy Display, the female half body forms are stuffed with layers of paper mache, so I concluded that it must be very sturdy and similar to the quality of PGM forms, which seem to be highly coveted by many home sewers and fashion design students. I don’t know if the information regarding the stuffing is accurate because it seems to contradict what’s posted on the Roxy Display web site, however, I’ve never touched a Wolf, so I have no idea what a paper mache-stuffed form feels like (see update below). In contrast, I was informed that the PGM forms are stuffed with foam. I couldn’t justify paying $150 more for the PGM form (even if it was stuffed with paper mache), when they looked almost identical to the Roxy forms on the web sites and I couldn’t identify any noticeable differences. As long as the form is sturdy and I can pin into it, I’m not overly concerned about what’s under the cover.
Update (1/24/11): A few days ago, I had the opportunity to see numerous PGM and Wolf dress forms at my fashion illustration class (see below). I squeezed and poked them all over and they didn’t feel noticeably different than my Roxy (I hope no one saw me feeling them up in the back of the classroom. lol).
Even though I couldn’t find a detailed review of this dress form online, I wanted to stay under $300, so I decided to purchase my form from Roxy Display, and I LOVE it! I considered purchasing the full body form with legs, but I thought it would be too difficult to pad out her thighs to match my figure, and I think I would be slightly disturbed if I had to look at a body hanging in the air like that on a daily basis because it reminds me too much of lynching. But if you’re looking for a full body form, the $379 price tag is very reasonable. Anyway, my dress form arrived a couple of days after I ordered it in one large box and one small box.
Here’s a description of her features:
1. Model #601, High Quality Fine Linen
2. Collapsible shoulders
3. Sides flange
4. Adjustable up & down
5. With hip shape
6. Pinnable Surface (covered by fine linen, and multi-layer padding underneath.)
*Need extra $35 to ship to Canada (from size 2 – size 16, half body only).
I decided to take advantage of a “5-day special” ($229 + shipping), which included the half-body form along with a complimentary arm and sewing kit that includes a seam ripper, French Curve set, various pattern drafting curves, stencils, pattern notcher, tracing wheel, and measurement tape. I also considered purchasing the dress form directly from the company via Ebay to avoid paying the shipping costs, but after researching the cost of the tools in the kit, I decided that the free sewing tools were worth more than the $49 shipping fee to Atlanta – especially since I am planning to start learning pattern making. I ordered my form several weeks ago, and the same special is still available on their web site (as of 1/16/2011). In case you’re wondering what’s in the kit, here are a few pics (the orange package contains various french curves):
Despite the cryptic instructions (they really need to hire a copy editor IMO), it was pretty easy to put the form together until I tried to figure out how to remove the coil from the pole. It was impossible to pull the coil off of the pole, so I had the bright idea to try to hold one end of the pole with my feet while I attempted to pull upwards as hard as I could to remove the coil and I ended up accidentally stabbing myself in between my legs with a really sharp screw (it’s hard to explain how this went down, but it took me completely by surprise). Luckily, I was wearing thick sweatpants and I didn’t break anything, but the pain was awful. Just for the sake of drama, this is the screw that almost sent me to the gynecologist.
Trust me when I say that this screw is not to be played with! When the incident happened, my honey and his friend were in the room and they both cringed in horror. On the bright side, I’m really glad that I don’t have testicles :).
Despite the setback, I was determined to finish assembling the dress form, so I used my handy research skills to locate a YouTube video posted by Roxy Display that demonstrated how to assemble it. After watching the video, it was super easy to figure out how to remove the coil from the pole. I really don’t know how they could justify omitting something as critical as “step on the foot pedal” to release the coil from the instructions. UGH!!! They really should include a link to the video in the box with the dress form. It could have saved me a lot of frustration (and pain).
Update: When I went back to the web site to retrieve the link for my blog, I noticed that they posted a link to the video to help with assembly. Ugh! Again, they need to include this in the box.
Anyway, here she is after I figured out how to put her together! Isn’t she a beauty? I had to move her downstairs because my upstairs (8 ft) ceiling got scratched up when I tried to lift up the dress form to put her onto the stand. Isn’t she pretty? I’m really happy with the construction. The steel base is very sturdy and I had to squat and tap into all of my strength in order to pick her up and carry her upstairs to my sewing studio (she’s really heavy!). Side note: I am 5’2, so I lowered the form all the way down and she’s still about 2 inches taller than I am (without heels).
Here’s a close up:
And here she is with the arm attached! (this photo was taken with a different camera and the coloring of the linen cover is much more accurate).
My biggest concern when I bought the form was the fact that her waist and hip measurements are smaller than mine, so I purchased the form based on my bust measurement so I could pad her out. Here’s what she looks like from the side:
My butt doesn’t look anything like this! So I purchased the Fabulous Fit fitting system to pad her out. I bought it on sale for $69 + shipping from AllBrands.com. I also considered buying Booty Pop panties for her to give her more junk in the trunk (via mail order, of course :), but then I realized that it would be impossible to get them on without alterations because she doesn’t have legs!
I was confused about what size to order (the size 6 dress form’s measurements out of the box are a “small”), but the customer service representative instructed me to purchase a medium because it matched my actual measurements. It took about an hour to pad her out completely. I used all of the pads, and I was happy that the system includes shoulder pads because my shoulders are about 1″ wider than my dress form’s.
When I first padded out the form, I had the pads in the wrong areas and I had to move them around and take continuous measurements to adjust things properly. It helped when I stood in front of and behind her so I could see which areas were too small or large. Her shape isn’t exactly like mine, but the measurements are the same, so that’s good enough for my purposes. I may make some adjustments, but I’m just ready to start draping! The size medium covers fit perfectly by the way.
Here she is with her new butt! According to my honey, her “booty is phatter” than mine (I probably set myself up for that one when I asked for his opinion :), but it’s definitely an improvement from the un-padded version.
When I view her from the side, I see the most noticeable difference between her body and mine. First of all, my posture is much straighter than hers. Second, the area in between her abdomen and upper thighs is all wrong (it’s way too full). Ideally, I would need to carve out 2-3 inches of padding in this region in order to match my figure, which “dips inward” in this area (see below):
After I padded her out, I put a dress on her and I was really impressed that the same fitting problems were visible on the dress form.
My only complaint is that she scared the ish out of me a few nights ago when I opened the door to my darkened sewing room and saw her headless shadow looming in front of the window (I didn’t have my contact lenses in, so she really looked like a decapitated person)…lol. I remembered that when I was a little girl, I used to be afraid to go downstairs because that’s where my mother stored her super-scary sewing mannequin. At the time, I thought it was really bizarre that there was a “headless woman” in my family’s basement, and I didn’t believe my parents when they tried to assure me that she was harmless (she was the subject of scary stories at my slumber parties). Now that I am adult, it seems so silly!
Also, my dress form cover had a couple of long vertical “snags”/runs that distracted from the princess seams so I returned it directly to Fabulous Fit and they promptly sent a replacement. The new cover also has a small run, but I don’t have the energy to send it back and it’s not a big deal.
In summary, I’m completely in love with my Roxy dress form, even though she doesn’t match my figure exactly (she’s close enough). She was definitely worth the pain, and the price was great! Last night, I used my dress form to help me pin the hem of a coat. Seriously, I don’t know how I lived without her for so long! The only thing she’s missing is a name (and a left arm). I’m sure I’ll eventually think of something fitting. For now, I’ll just call her “Roxy.”
I hope this review helps others who are shopping for dress forms or curious about the quality of the Roxy Display forms. And most of all, I sincerely hope that my review saves someone else from unintended injuries (in case you missed my warning the first time: Watch the YouTube video before assembly! :).