Meet my new sewing friend – the Lady Valet Dress Form

I’ve been wanting a dressmaker’s dummy for some time now and, finally, I have one! Despite being obsessed with making bags, I’m keen to have a go at making some clothes for myself. I don’t know if it’s been the amazing Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing or the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee which has spurned me on. I also enjoy all the inspiring sewing blogs out there and I desperately need to improve my Summer wardrobe. Whatever, I think I’m going to enjoy setting myself this new challenge. So, this was the perfect excuse to treat myself to a dress form and here ‘she’ is…

The Lady Valet Dress Form

The Lady Valet Dress Form

You wouldn’t believe how difficult it can be to choose the right dress form! I thought I could just do a quick search, within my budget, and get one ordered up. But, there are so many different ones available, I was overwhelmed. A few that I’d thought would be good, mainly due to being reasonably priced, turned out to be totally unsuitable. They weren’t adjustable enough, had flimsy stands, didn’t have enough padding on the body (for pinning directly into it)… I only began considering all these things after reading through some reviews. I’m so glad I did that, as I started off not knowing the first thing about choosing a dress form. I though it might be helpful to write about it here, in case anyone else is having trouble choosing the right one.

First of all there’s the adjustable features to consider. I’ve had four kids, so I’m far from a standard size. This created problems, whilst a small size dummy was perfect for my hip size, it was no good for my upper half. I’m also quite short, only 5′ and a bit, so I had to look at forms with 8 part bodies, rather than just 4, so that I could also adjust the measurement from nape of neck to waist. I then noticed, from user reviews, that some models aren’t very durable – the stands can be flimsy – and many didn’t have enough padding enabling fabric to be pinned directly onto the dummy. My list of potentials was slowly narrowing…

I don’t have a sewing room (oh, I wish), just a corner of the dining room which is open plan to the living room, so it was important that the form looked nice too as it would be permanently on show. I finally came across a few really good reviews about the Lady Valet Dress Form. The more I read about it and looked over the specs, etc, the more I wanted this one. The medium size would adjust to my sizes – it is an 8 part body with 12 adjustable dials. It was consistently reviewed as being of great quality, very adjustable, enough padding on the body and a good solid wooden stand which offered stability. Then came the price crunch though. It retails at around £149 (GBP), way out of my budget. Oh well, sigh! Not to be beaten though, I did more searches, eventually searching on ebay to see if anyone happened to be selling a second hand one. Well, I was so chuffed when I found a brand new one, boxed and my size, being sold for £99. Perfect! Still quite a bit to spend, but I was happy with saving so much on the one I wanted and reassured myself that it will pay for itself over time. I was so pleased with this purchase, the reviews were right. It adjusts really easily, it’s fantastic quality, it’s robust but looks great too. Well worth the money. Now that I have this, I’d definitely say that even the full price is well worth it.

Lady Valet Dress Form - Review

Now for some easy-to-do sewing patterns and some nice dressmaking fabrics. I have some lovely tops in mind to begin with. Oh, the delights of shopping for patterns and fabric! I’ll also keep you posted on my new dressmaking adventures, or miss-haps  as the case may be!

28 thoughts on “Meet my new sewing friend – the Lady Valet Dress Form

  1. I can’t wait to see your next project, I’m sure with a dress form it will be much easier to work with it and yours is very nice, specially the color.
    I know how hard it is to find a good dress form. I have mine for about three years and I had to do a lot of research before I decided which one to buy. Mine is not an expensive one, and I don’t like the color which is a dark blue, but it is sturdy enough and I am satisfied with it.☺

  2. I too have just bought my first dress form. I have named her Gladys. I am so pleased I have finally got her. The only moan is that she has a VERY flat stomach, which doesn’t look natural. But regardless of that I can’t be happier. I hope you have fun with yours

    1. Hi there!
      I’m a novice dressmaker. Made a few dresses and couple of skirts which is so hard when on your own.
      Thank you for your review as I am in the same situation. Friends have a Lady Valet but then they are amazing at sewing. Was unsure if I should just get a cheap one or not.
      You have given me confidence that buying a Lady V is the right choice.
      Hope you have her a name!!
      Daisy xx

      1. That’s lovely to hear that you found my post helpful. I did a lot of research and am so happy with my Lady Valet. As well being just perfect for the job, she also looks lovely in the corner of the dining room, wearing one of my handmade tops! Happy sewing!

    2. Hi I have heard from friends that you can add wadding to parts that are larger than the mannequin. Also to put an old bra and fill it on her to get a proper representation of yourself 🙂
      Hope this helps xx

  3. I just convinced my husband to get me one for my birthday!!! Yay!! Now I just have to go do all that research to see what is best suited for my body too! Congrats in your new house mate, lol! Excited to see what you make 🙂

    1. Yay! That’s fantastic. You won’t regret it. Best purchase I’ve made, next to the sewing machine of course! I’ll hopefully be able to post about my first top soon. She’s wearing a muslin top at the moment, whoo hoo, got that far! Have some nice fabric now to make the real thing.

  4. Hi, I’m hoping to buy the same soon, 5.1 in height and three kids for me. Seems you found a bargain for £99, please could you share the stockist? Thanks 🙂

  5. i’m considering getting myself a dress form, not to make clothes but to alter the ones I have. My problem is I have a back problem that has given me a curved spine and a lot of tops just don’t fit very well. How much can you alter the top of the spine to bend it forward. Any advise would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Nicky,

      There is an adjusting wheel which would be roughly between the shoulder blades which might help. Not sure if it would adjust enough though. Might be a good idea to visit somewhere that you could check out different forms before comitting to buy? Not sure if you have a local retailer but try John Lewis as I’m sure they sell a few different ones.

  6. Hi Susie! Great blog post, I have just started shopping for dress forms and was instantly drawn to the look of the Lady Valet. After your fab review, I don’t think I need to look any further, it looks like you have done the hard research work for all of us! Thanks!

    1. Hi Natalie, you’re really welcome! I’m pleased you found the post about the Lady Valet so helpful. I still absolutely love this fab dress form and glad I bought it. Good luck with yours, hope you find it as great as I have done.

  7. Hi everyone, although a novice to this I have read some interesting articles about adding batting to various parts of your body form to reflect your personal shape, ie for me a thick waist and roundy tummy

  8. Hi there I know this is an older post but wondered if you can help as I am VERY new to dressmaking. When pinning cut pattern pieces to the form – do you do it inside out like you do pinning flat pieces? Many thanks x

  9. This is just the post I’ve been looking for! Like you I’ve been inspired to start making my own clothes. I’ve been doing lots of web searching to try to find the best dress form. Having read your review I’m more convinced the that Lady Valet may be the one for me too. After adjusting to your size, have you covered your form so the gaps don’t show?

    1. Hi Liz, pleased to have helped your decision. I didn’t cover the gaps but I did make a muslin for her to wear when not in use. But, yes, good idea to maybe make a tight fitting, stretchy cover if you find the gaps troublesome.

  10. Hi Liz, I have a question for you on your dressform. I have recently purchased one and struggling a bit to fit it in my real shape. Have you noticed the slight dent going all around the middle dial? I have tried setting my form so that that is my waistline, but if I do that my ribcage measurement is wrong (too large). Would you recommend me to just ignore that dent and use the space immediately above it as a waistline reference? I’m pretty confused! Thanks, Giorgia

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