Half Scale Mannequins on the television
Although the episode in question appeared some time ago, I discovered this particular episode watching re-runs of the series. I was delighted to see a half size dress form being used on television in the popular TV series, The Great British Sewing Bee. Although I am always telling everyone what a brilliant workshop tool a half size mannequin is, there is nothing like the reach of a TV programme to promote an idea. These pictures were from episode 7, the semi-finals which was first aired in 2016. The task was a “zero waste” challenge to create an item of womenswear from a child’s duvet cover. However, they first had to prototype it on the half size using a pillowcase.
The presenter explained that “planning garments on a half size mannequin is a method used by many designers to develop ideas quickly without wasting fabric.” While this is certainly true, it is not the whole story. They are used to try out designs from flat patterns using patterns created by adapting special half size blocks where the theory of the design sketch needs to be put to the test in a practical way. They can also, as in the TV show, be used to experiment with draping methods where fabric is placed straight onto the mannequin and then manipulated and cut away until the desired style is achieved. In both methods the design is then scaled up to produce full size patterns.The beauty of half size mannequins is that their small size means things can come together quickly and be viewed easily without having to keep walking away from it to assess the overall appearance; it’s all there in front of you and it can also sit on the table at hand height so no bending and crawling around doing hems!
Professionals and students alike also use them to showcase a collection of designs or style modifications to clients or for assessment without going to the expense of using up costly fabric. Since the mannequins are half as tall and half as wide as a standard mannequin the amount of fabric required to produce a garment is 4 times less.