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3 Simple Steps to Using Dress Forms Like a Pro! (2023)

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Many amateur and home seamstresses do not know how to use a dress form because they believe they use it only in the industry and by sewing / tailoring experts. However, using a dress shape is an important skill no matter your sewing skill, and knowing how to use a dress shape to make a pattern will help you immensely if you are sewing for a hobby, personal use or a profession. This article describes how to use a dress shape to make a pattern, different draping techniques with a dress shape, and the tools needed to help you sew, drape, and make the most of a dress shape.

When you’ve finally made your own dress shape, follow this step-by-step guide covering areas like shaping, draping, sewing a hem and using a dress shape to make a pattern.

What is drape and why is it necessary to make a pattern?

Draping is making a dress pattern using a dress form. Unlike drawing a dress pattern on flat, evenly spaced fabric, drape places the fabric over the dress shape in 3 dimensions, allowing the seamstress to visualize unusual or uneven patterns in the fabric, such as ruffles or other shapes that are not symmetrical. There are several draping techniques you can follow if you are wondering how to use a dress shape to make a pattern, and the following guide will detail some of them.

How to use a dress form of clothing to make a pattern?

1. Prepare the dress form:

how to use a dress form: Prepare the dress form

Before you drape, it is important to know how to make your dress pattern. Sketch a simple dress pattern in the style you want – this will be your guide to preparing the dress shape and creating the final dress pattern. Use bias tape to mark the main seams and hems of the pattern you are hoping to make in a fabric. The bias tape should to the dress along the lines it will eventually dictate on the dress itself. Make sure that it does not twist the bias binding at any point and is flat and tight against the garment shape.

2. Tools You Will Need:

how to use a dress form: Tools you will need

  • Tape Measure
  • Scissors
  • Fleece or a similar thick material to fill the garment mold
  • Bias tape to mark the outline that the fabric will follow
  • Draping fabric – normal muslin but a non-stretchable artificial fabric is sufficient
  • Pins
  • Sharpie
  • Pattern paper
  • Pattern transfer paper
  • Tracking wheel

3. Start draping:

how to use a dress form: Begin draping

  • Using the muslin fabric, drape it over the dress shape and pin it even and flat against the grain. Pin the muslin along the bias lines you marked earlier using the bias tape. This can on one side only (split from top to bottom) and later transferred as a mirror image pattern to the other side
  • Cut the muslin along the lines showed by the bias tape. When cutting, leave about 5 inches of excess fabric around the arm and neck holes. Trim the dress around these areas smearing the leftover muslin against the dress shape.
  • Smooth the dress against the back of the dress in the same way as the front. form. Pin the muslin to the shape and diagonal lines as before and cut accordingly
  • Once all required neck and armholes have , use a fine pencil to trace the pattern. draw that the bias lines create on the muslin fabric itself. Use the pins holding the muslin to the bias lines as a guide and connect these points together with a pencil.
  • Remove the pins from each part of the muslin, leaving only the pencil marks and lines. Take a straight-edged ruler and use it to help you accurately draw the straight lines of the dress pattern.
  • Fold the side of the muslin with the pattern on over the created rather centerfold by the crease from top to bottom along the dress shape. Using your hands, apply pressure and rub the fabric along the pencil lines – these will transfer to the unmarked side of the fabric, creating a symmetrical design pattern
  • Try it partially finished muslin fabric on yourself and take a few selfies in a mirror how the bias line marks in pencil match the shape of your own body. This is a useful step to complete at this early stage as it is still possible to adjust the design pattern before making the last cuts or sewing the final shape.
  • during all that follow the design as it will – hanging from the prime point of the shoulders and down. Take as many times as necessary to make this pattern fit evenly and symmetrically while wearing
  • After correcting the shoulder pattern on the fabric, follow the same procedure for the seams on the side of the dress. Move the dress while wearing it and make sure the side seams are completely straight and vertical with no bend.
  • At this stage, you have completed the design pattern thanks to the help. of your clothing shape. Take each piece of muslin with a design pattern and iron out all the folds.
  • Take each piece of individually cut muslin and draw along the outline on pattern / craft paper. Correct smudges or imperfections in the muslin on the paper with a marker.
  • Cut out the paper and you have a custom clothing pattern for yourself, ready to be transferred onto the fabric of your choice!


how to use a dress form: Some tips to follow

  • Want to know how to use a dress shape to make a pattern? Would you like to improve your draping techniques? You need patience and practice! This is a method that takes time and personal investment to improve.
  • Every time you remove pins and try out the muslin, make sure that you nothing misses as these scratches can cause skin damage if not noticed
  • Ironing pieces of fabric during the process can help visualize the final dress shape
  • If you are trying the process for the first time, using a friend as a model can help – you can usually spot mistakes and areas for improvement Wernerian draped over someone else


This article should serve as a good introductory guide to using a dress shape and to design your own pattern. The draping techniques outlined in this step-by-step guide are a general guideline, but experiment and play with them to help you find your own preferred technique. Designing a dress pattern from scratch is time consuming, but extremely satisfying, so make sure not to rush or skip steps. Lots of fun!

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.