Do you have Freecycle in your area? If so, I seriously suggest you check it out.
It's an amazing place where you can offer up items you no longer need, but someone else may have use for, and where other people do the same. In my local area, you can also post inquiries if you are looking for certain items.
Check for one in your area
I have been sewing for years, since I was a child really and last year began making clothes for myself. As I am sort of hard to fit, I rarely use commercial patterns, opting instead to use my current clothing as patterns for my new clothing. This works really well, except when it doesn't.
For example, using a knit shirt as a guideline for a shirt made of woven fabric doesn't work if you forget to account for the form fitting nature of the template shirt. Oops.
I have detailed measurements, and got better about eyeballing patterns. But all along I knew I needed a dress form if I was to do really great work. So I started pricing them.
Dress forms cost a lot of money!
Even cheap ones were out of my price range, not to mention, finding them in small/petite sizes proved more difficult than I would have imagined.
So I added a dress form to my list of "some days" and went on about my sewing life, winging it as I went.
One day while on my local Freecycle board looking at the "wanted" posts to see if I had anything that people might need, I decided to post a wanted ad for a dress form. A long shot for sure as they cost a few hundred dollars and people don't generally give those types of things away, but worth a shot.
Over the years I had received cloth diapers, a cradle, and various crafting items from members of my local Freecycle group. And I had been able to provide a few people in need with misc. baby items over my baby having career. We also provided a Christmas tree to a family in need when we bought a new one. It really is a great place to help out those local to you.
Anyway, 2 days after I posted a lovely woman responded to me that she had a small dress form and if I could use it, it was mine. I literally jumped for joy! I responded that yes I would love it and would come pick it up immediately.
I drove to her home and there it was. Still in plastic, never even used. It was all I could do to not burst into tears and give her a bear hug. I had been pining over this for ages, and here it was. She was offering it to me, for nothing in return. Such a blessing. We played with it a bit, and then I loaded it up and took it home.
The best thing is, it fits my measurements, so I can tailor clothing already in my closet to fit better, I can make things more to my specifications without the crazy pinning to my body experiments.
I am pregnant now, so there will be some areas where it may not be as helpful, but I think I can use it anyway and just account for belly space.
Now that she is home and out of her plastic, it's time to name her. Giving her a name makes her a real partner in my sewing adventures. A sidekick if you will.
I was thinking of something spunky and fun, then I thought more traditional and "old school", then I thought I would use some name that I like but could never give to real live children for fear of the playground suffering.
So I am asking for thoughts. Please leave name suggestions in the comments, and in a few days, I will settle on a name for my new sidekick.