For sewists, the dress form evokes a special nostalgia and romance for us that is hard to explain to others who don’t sew. While it offers many functional benefits as a tool, it also transforms our sewing space into a more inspiring and inviting place full of possibility! When designing Beatrice, I hoped to honor that, while at the same time including modern advancements to make it useful as a fitting tool for real people, like us.
Over the past year, a lot of love and careful thought went into creating Beatrice. From top to bottom, there are so many beautiful details that went into the current design. I’d love to share some of my favorites with you!
1. The handle.
Let’s face it, the handle on a dress form is super iconic – it’s the icing on the cake, the crown! And it has got to function too – it’s how you move the darn thing after all. If you look at dress forms through the ages, you’ll find tons of variation from the classic Wolf finial style to simple doorknob looking like things, usually made of metal or wood, with a variety of finishes.
For Beatrice, I wanted the handle to feel great in your hand, first and foremost. That’s why it is made of soft, lightly finished wood – warm, organic and familiar. But I also wanted to say, “Hey, we’re the dress form you already know and love but with a twist!” So I put a window in it. As the light shines through, it takes on the color of your space, so there’s a little of you in there too!
2. The just-like-you bodice.
This is the heart of the whole project. Obviously, there’s the tech that makes it possible, which is actually the easier part for us because we’ve been doing that professionally for a long time. But what’s more interesting is the smoothness of the shape of Beatrice.
What I’ve learned over time by working with my paper tape form and testing foam prototypes with sewists is that while 3D body doubles are extremely helpful, being 100% photographically accurate isn’t inspiring or even useful (think panty lines, bulges from bra straps and the like). We smooth each model just enough so it’s gorgeous AND still accurate enough for fitting.
Dress forms are smooth because that makes them great for draping and design. Yours should be too.
3. The removable cover.
My first choice was a draped cotton linen custom cover but we couldn’t figure out how to offer it at an accessible price. Instead, I created a beautiful double knit cover that has a drawstring at the bottom so you can take it off and replace it, and make it yours!
DIY cover possibilities include matching your skin tone and even embroidering your tattoos — turn your form into your own work of art! We’ve even had customers writing fit notes on theirs. The covers are totally replaceable, so why not??
Or you could drape your own traditional woven cover which could be the foundation of your moulage/sloper. The screw on handle is designed to come off easily so a wardrobe change is a breeze.
4. The adjustable stand.
To be useful, your dress form needs a stand that is stable and moves up and down easily. For Beatrice, we chose one with a cast iron base so she stays upright, and with some swooshy wheels so she can effortlessly mosey about your sewing space. Even though it costs a few more $$, we did not compromise on the working foot pedal. You really need a painless way to quickly move her up to hem and down to work on shoulders from above. It’s a non-negotiable ergonomically. And because the foam bodice is inexpensive to update, it makes no sense to skimp on the stand, which you only need to purchase once!
5. The affordable updates.
Speaking of updates, this is a critical feature of Beatrice. I care a lot about this. One of the most unlikeable things about dress forms is that they make us feel like our bodies should stay the same all the time. Or that we have to be our “perfect” shape or weight before we invest in one. I’m not a fan of that way of thinking because it is impossible to keep our bodies the same over time, even over the course of a day. Try measuring your waist in the morning and at night on the same day. Or during and after your period. Or next year. I guarantee that it will be different.
Keeping in mind that our bodies are dynamic, we designed our business to be able to offer foam bodice updates at a very reduced cost. We are uniquely positioned to do this as custom form makers because our at-home scanning tech is available to just about anyone, anywhere. The tools we’ve created to make the forms are all computer controlled, and a breeze for us to run! We are still working out the pricing for these form updates as we haven’t scaled our production yet, but we are working hard to keep costs down.
As we move through the Early Supporter Program, you are teaching us every day how to make Beatrice better in so many ways. Thanks for partnering with us on our journey. Can’t wait to share more about what I’m learning so stay tuned… 🙂