The Classical Tutu Dress-form

Classical Tutu On Dressform
Tutu On Dress-form At The Costume Creations.UK Studio

Using Dress-forms In Costume Design

There are many different types of gadgets and accessories that assist a clothing designer with garment creation. One of these is the dressmaker’s dummy or dress-form. We sometimes take for granted the sewing tools that are available to us and spend little time wondering about the history of these items. I was curious enough about the history of dress-forms to do a little investigating about the origins of the dress-form.

Who Invented The Dress-form?

Nobody knows the exact date of the very first dress-form invention. The oldest known example of a dress-form is a wooden torso-shaped form that was found in King Tut’s tomb in Egypt in 1922. This wooden torso was found near King Tut’s clothing chest. We are talking ancient Egypt circa 1350 B.C.  That is quite a long time ago.

Why Were Dress-forms Created?

The most likely reason that dress-forms were created was to allow a dressmaker to create a garment without “bothering” the King and his Royal family. Only the very wealthy and elite were able to hire a personal dressmaker. The dressmaker only had to “disturb” the client once by taking his or her measurements then transfer the measurements to a dress-form. From there, the dressmaker could fit the garment without the presence of the client.

The Benefits Of Using A Dress-form For Professional Results

The benefits of using a dress-form have always been important in haute couture design. The haute couture fashion houses of old-world France demanded the use of the dress-form for dressmaker’s making custom clothing for the rich and Royal of the French aristocracy. There are a few more benefits to using a dress-form:

  • Prevents crushing. Classical tutus are beautiful, but also easily crushed out of shape. Imagine a ballet costume designer stuffing your tutu into her closet and handing you a wrinkled costume when you come to pick it up. That wouldn’t do. The dress-form gives the tutu skirt “breathing” room and space.
  • Shaping. Allowing the garment to rest undisturbed on the dress-form lets the garment keep it’s shape. Especially the bodice. This is much better than trying to hang it from a hanger or a hook where the straps may stretch out.
  • Sewing Guide. This is the basic function of the dress-form. It becomes a fitting guide, a base for draping fabric, measuring length, and all of the other fine-tuning that goes along with tutu couture.

The most important benefit of using a dress-form? A dress-form won’t mind being poked by a pin or two unlike a human client. No screams of “ouch!”  make the design studio a happier place.

🙂 🙂



  1. This is all so true . But do you know I wish someone would make dress forms with a good leg form for Tutu and Leotard fitting. I have seen pictures of good ones at the Maryinsky – I wish we could get hold of them.

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