Home » Draping, Featured, Fitting

Introducing My Rockin’ Roxy Display Dress Form!

18 January 2011 32 Comments
duct tape 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):

sewing kit

sewing kit curve rulers

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).

Roxy Dress form

Here’s a close up:

Roxy Dress Form 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).

Dress form with arm

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:

Roxy Dress Form Side

….and back:

Dress Form Back

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!

Fabulous Fit

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.

Fabulous Fit

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.

Dress Form Back

Roxy Dress Form Back

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.

dress form side

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):

Dress Form Side

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! :).

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32 Comments »

  • Dei said:

    O.k., I’m rockin’ and rollin’ with your post, thinking I need to plunk down the cash and get a decent dress form and I sew covet that sewing kit. I’m also lovin’ your adjustments. But when I got to the part about her scaring the “ish” out of you, I fell out laughing. Girl, too funny!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks, Dei: hee hee…I hate to admit that it happened not once, but twice! If she scares me a third time, I’m gonna have to find another place to keep her at night. I don’t want my cat to attack her. You won’t regret it if you get one!

  • Toya | The Limerick Lane said:

    I so needed this post! I have wanted a Roxy dress form forever, but I was unsure what size to get because my hips are bigger than my bust. I’m going to do what you did and order by must bust size. Thanks so much for this great post! I also was interested in the fabulous fit form too!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Toya. I’m glad this helped with your dress form decision. I got fitted for a bra yesterday and the Roxy bust is actually 1/2 inch smaller than mine, but I put one of my bras on it before I added all of the padding and it looks great.

  • Kisha said:

    thank you for this post! I actually bought my dressform from Roxy through their eBay store last year in April. I have yet to put the form on the pole because I couldn’t get the coil off :(. never thought to check YouTube…

    hope you get a lot of use out of the form. and have fun learning to drape. :)

  • Carla (author) said:

    oh wow, Kisha! I can imagine your frustration. That coil thing was so unnecessarily confusing. It’s time to put your Roxy to good use! Good luck putting it together.

  • Jen said:

    Thx to your post, I got the same form you did! I’m so excited I can’t stand it! Haha…

  • Carla (author) said:

    Congrats! I know you’ll love it :).

  • Sarah said:

    Carla…THANK YOU for such an in-depth discussion of dress forms. I am only 4’10″, so the fact you mentioned being 5’2″ really helped a great deal. Roxy Display is very close to my home, so I can “walk in” to their showroom, which is something they endorse. However, if the consumer walks in and buys an item, it is NOT RETURNABLE!!
    I just need to decide which size would best fit my miniature frame…lol. I’m all of 96 pounds, with a middle-age puffy belly. Small chest (33″), buddha belly, small hips, pathetic butt, thin thighs. All things considered, I’m really nervous about plunking down the money for a good dress form. I know that a child’s size would be too small. I am relatively sure that the torso would be too long on the average sized form. Roxy does not carry petite forms (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE???? THERE IS A MARKET FOR PETITES!!!) I just bought a Dritz “My Double Deluxe” dress form from Joann Fabrics, which turned out to be a horrible piece of doo doo!! I instantly felt like I’ve been sewing for too many years to have to settle for something like that. Needless to say, it is already packaged up to return.

    Anyway, thanks again for the wonderful and informative (yet humorous) blog! I wish you many happy years of sewing with “Roxy.” According to your picture, you are adorable and will look great in anything you sew, anyway! :)

    Sarah

  • Carla (author) said:

    Thanks, Sarah! I’m sorry you had a bad experience with the Dritz. Maybe you can check out the Roxy forms in person and then order one online? After taking an evening gown workshop at a fashion design school, I had the opportunity to work with a PGM form and I also checked out the Wolf forms in person. I can honestly say that I am still very happy with my Roxy!

  • jasmine said:

    all I want to say is THANK YOU! for this! like abunch =) I’m 17 and I am always told that I have a lot of talent when it comes to making clothing garments, but sometimes I make something amazing, but it just dosnt have the great fit that it has on the person I try using as my manniquien. I was thinking of making a duct tape form, but I didn’t want to waste my time with something I couldn’t pin into to…now my only problem is that my body size isn’t very normal (ugghh I hate it!) I’m 5ft 5 and I have DD breasts and I’m a pant size 5, and I think that the padding kit is over expensive and useless. I just want it to be the closest to me as possible. any suggestions? thank you for your time =)

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Jasmine, You’re welcome! Can you buy a dress form to fit your waist and hip measurements and then put one of your bras on it and just stuff it with some batting, bra padding, or maybe even those silicone bra inserts if you want the breasts to be sturdier when you’re pinning? I’m gonna send you an email.

  • Ann said:

    Carla,
    Thank you for your helpful posting of your dress form experience. I wanted to add to the other posters as it has been very helpful for me to read what others have written.
    I have finally decided to get a form, not to design but just to alter clothes. Nothing fits anymore and clothes are not finely tailered as they once were! I used to make most of my clothes but as time went by I have depended more on buying and altering. Although I am not a “youngster” I still have a waist and have to alter nearly everything. When buying Kasper suits I buy an 8 or 10 for my shoulder size but have to take in the waist and hips of the skirt.
    I first tried the “pants” Dritz but it leaned to one side, so I sent it back. I then orderd the wine colored Dritz but the middle of her back stuck out where my sway back went in. So I then tried a size 8 PGM with hips and like it a lot but finally decided she was too big for me. I also bought the Fabulous Fit system and found the stretch covers helpful. I am sending my size 8 PGM back and getting a size 6. My reasoning is that the size 8 was only 1″ smaller than my waist and by the time I had the two covers on I could not button my skirts on her. I have arrived at the opinion that the best thing to do is buy small enough that you can pad her up to your size and then she will have a bit of “squish” and give as you do in your own body. I need to pad the upper back to achieve the sway back and the size 8 was too thick in the midsection from the side. My mom helped me, she has sewn for the public for 40+ years. I will check back later after I have achieved my matching form. By the way I talked to someone at Fabulous Fit and she agreed that I would be more pleased to go smaller and pad up to size. Thanks again! Ann

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Ann, You’re welcome. It sounds like you will be happier with the size 6 PGM and padding it up. I try to find suits that offer separates so I can go up a size in the pants. I don’t know much about alterations (except hemming). Good luck :)

  • Catherine said:

    Hi Carla!
    I stumbled upon your blog while googling for reviews of Roxy Display. I need to get several mannequins in varying sizes for my small studio, and since I’m not made of money, I thought the roxy mannequins would be great. I had a question for you about the durability of your mannequin. Have you used it much this year? I’m curious how the collapsable shoulders have held up. And if there’s any issues you’ve encountered since using it. I use my mannequins pretty regularly, and while I certainly care for them, they’ve broken down (probably because I got an adjustable one. never. again.)

    Anyways, I hope you’ve had a positive experience! I’m calling Roxy after Thanksgiving to find out about any deals they may offer for buying several dress forms. :)

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Catherine,

    I’m sorry for the delay. I was traveling for several weeks around Thanksgiving w/limited web access. I thought I replied to your post, but I don’t see it here. I haven’t had time for sewing during the past year so I can’t comment on the durability. I’ve only used the dress form once and I didn’t finish that project :(. I’ll do better in 2012. Best wishes.

  • Ann said:

    Hello again,

    Well, just wanted to add that I returned my size 8 PGM for the size 6 but after numerous attempts to get it to be “me”, I give up!! I think I need smaller still; it is very hard to acheive my sway back feature. This model is thicker than I am in the waist, that is looking at it from the side. The form itself seems sturdy enough and this one didn’t smell nearly as strongly as the first; perhaps it is because the second time I got the red muslin covered one versus the first being the linen. Anyway, congratulations to those who find a form that helps them fit themselves! For me, I will go back to what I have done since a teenager, just do a lot of trying it on. Whew, what frustration the form was, wasted time and wasted money. But, happy sewing to all!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Ann,

    I’m sorry the form didn’t work out for you. That sounds frustrating. Have you tried a duck tape or professionally made custom form?

  • Berns said:

    This was very helpful. Thank you for your detailed review. I feel confident now to purchase and I look forward to receiving my new Roxy dress form this week.

  • Ann said:

    No, Carla, no duct tape for me!. I have learned through the years what to do to patterns to make them fit. Slope the shoulder seam down 1/4″, cut that same 1/4″ out under the arm; taper out 1/4″ on side seam under the arm, taper in the waist, then out again for the hips. Taper out 1/2″ in back around the waist to make the garment fit my sway back. That will pretty much make most patterns fit but I haven’t bought a new pattern in ages, not sure if they are still sized the same. I notice bought clothes are much, much bigger in the waist which means more alterations for me. Ug! Mostly I do alterations now instead of “making from scratch”. But you did great on your form. Congratulations!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Alterations aren’t my specialty at all, but it sounds like you have it all figured out. Good luck!

  • Lady said:

    Hi Carla, I just found this wonderful post about dress forms which I’m in great distress over because I need one too but do not have the $$ for it. I was promised one for my B’day recently and went to Joanne’s and while turning one of the dials on the display form, it fell inside, and the whole thing just felt very flimsy and looked ugly too, for far too much money IMO. But I love the details of what you have here and I wonder about the sizing…it is scary to me that I wear around a size 10-12 but that in measurements for dress forms, I would need a size 16 ? does that make sense to you? I’d like your opinion or explanation on this before I order one. Thank you again so much for this very helpful post! blessings, Lady

  • Mary Jones said:

    Carla-
    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this post.
    I ordered a Roxy & Fabulous Fit from Amazon today and you post gives me confidence that I made the right choice.

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Mary, I’m glad my post helped and hope it works out for you!

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Lady, Sorry for the delay. I’m not sure about the sizing question, but I would focus on the measurements instead of the sizing: Measurement Chart - However, I just noticed that I ordered a size 6 (based on the bust), even though my hips are closer to a size 12 (according to the Roxy chart). I also wear a size 6 in ready to wear. Personally, I focused on the bust measurement and padded everything else out. In retrospect, I think I should have ordered a size 8. If your measurements fluctuate, I would buy a form based on the smaller measurements and pad the form (you can take the padding out later if necessary). I lost weight since I bought my form and need to remove some of the padding. However, I’m not an expert! You can also call Roxy and they’ll answer your questions over the phone.

  • Lady said:

    You are darling, and thank you for your well researched, written comparison, and responses to us all. I just purchased one last night…You should show Roxy this blog so they can see who is buying from them based on your write up. I’m excited and happy to have found this again, as I was so sad I couldn’t find a nice one for under $400.00, and this one is being gifted for my B’day. :D I’ll be getting it in a few days I think. Not the shocking size 16 which is pricier, but the 12, which is only a few inches smaller, as nothing I will make is form fitting, everything will be loose garments. Now I see the last post, a woman buying from amazon, was a bit cheaper, not much, but still. Thank you soooooo much! Lady

  • Carla (author) said:

    Hi Lady,

    You’re welcome. I hope you’re happy with the 12. And yes, this post has influenced a lot of Roxy purchases. They are aware of my blog and I asked them to make me an affiliate, but didn’t get anywhere. Perhaps, I should become a PGM dealer? I had the opportunity to use their dress forms at a class over the summer and really liked it. Maybe I’ll write a new post :)

  • Sandra said:

    Carla,

    Thanks so much for the info. I am taking a draping class and am looking for a dress form. I will need to pad mine out too. Your post was so helpful and fun to read.

    :)

  • Dress Form Review : Pencil Paper Fabric said:

    [...] I have first hand knowledge. I initially became interested in the Roxy form after reviewing this post written by Handmade by Carla while researching dress [...]

  • Roxy said:

    Thank you for the suggestion and the compliments!

    We cannot add the link to the box since we make drop shipments for many distributors around the world but,going forward we will add the link to our customer’s invoices.

    Sincerely,
    Roxy Display Inc.

  • Brittany said:

    Thank you for this review!! I’ve been researching dress forms for months now and your review is the first in depth analysis of the lower end professional forms (vs the adjustable). This form is in my price range and the sewing kit is the icing on the cake! How has it held up since you posted this review?
    xxxxxx!

  • Carla (author) said:

    It looks brand new because I haven’t been using it! :) But it looks just as sturdy as the others I’ve seen. I’m glad you enjoyed the review.

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