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What is a Dressmaking Model?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Feb 16, 2024

A dressmaking model is a model of the human body which is used by a dressmaker, seamstress, or other professional in the clothing industry. These models are used to check the general fit and appearance of a garment, and to confirm that a garment will fit a specific person. They are available through companies which carry dressmaking supplies, and they can also be purchased at sewing stores, and sometimes at thrift and antique stores, although they tend to vanish from inventory at this types of stores quickly.

There are several ways in which a dressmaking model can be designed. The most basic is simply a mannequin with fixed proportions which can be used to check for fit and appearance in a generic size range. The simplest model may include only a torso, while others may have extremities which may be posable to explore changes in drape and fit which may occur as someone moves. The dressmaking model usually does not have a head.

It is also possible to buy a dressmaking model which is adjustable. This type of product is popular because a dressmaker can adjust it until it matches the measurements and proportions of a specific person. This allows dressmakers to check fit and drape without having to call someone in for a fitting. For mail order dressmakers, this is critical, while dressmakers who see their clients may like the convenience of only requiring one or two in person fittings, making small adjustments with the assistance of the dressmaking model.

Also known as a sewing mannequin or dressmaker's dummy, a dressmaking model is a valuable tool. It allows people to see how their garments might look on real people, something which can be hard to visualize when looking at garments as they lie flat. Models with generic male or female physical features are available for different kinds of dressmaking needs, and they can also include features like soft bodies which allow dressmakers to pin fabric while they work. Some dressmakers have several models, allowing them to leave garments on a model rather than needing to take them off to fit another garment.

A closely related concept, a fit model, is an actual living person who acts as a model for a dressmaker or designer. Fit models are used to see how garments look on real people, for the purpose of making adjustments before making these garments available for sale. The fashion industry has been criticized historically for using fit models with somewhat unusual body types, making it hard for many people to find garments which fit because most people are not fit models.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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