Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
Before I go right in to air my grievances, I think it is only proper that I fill you in with my reason to get a dress form in the first place. Ever since I started my life in Japan, I find myself churning out more ideas for sewing projects than for illustrations. And lately, the determination to make my own evening dress (to attend my brother’s wedding in September) had strongly prompted me to pick up dressmaking skill.
Initially, I began by searching for a fashion school to get the necessary foundation. However, the cons seem to outweigh the pros. There is no english-speaking class near my area. Attending any regular Japanese-only fashion school will definitely freak me out. I cannot afford to splash time and money for self-indulgent, I have a one-year-old to think about. Plus, I don’t need additional paper qualifications at this point of time. I rather acquire skills and experiences at my own pace.
So after much contemplation, autodidacticism is the only way to go. (Wow, finally a chance to use that big word, which basically means self-teaching LOL). Hence, I bought two reference books to start me off. I may buy more advance-level books in the future once I’ve gain confidence with the fundamental steps. I love the flexibility and that it only costs a fraction of any dressmaking course fee.
For some reason, I cannot find any adjustable dress form in Japan. The lady “torsos” here are only available in fixed sized, which is unsuitable for my constantly fluctuating body measurements. Furthermore, they are so expensive and out of my budget. So I decided to buy the basic and reasonably-priced FashionMaker Family Adjustable Dress Form by Yamata from USA.
Unfortunately, most online stores do not offer international shipping for the dress form. I can only find ONE! Overstock.com is willing to ship to Japan but it will cost me a hefty sum of JPY20,652 (about USD258; with shipping and tax included). At Amazon.com, the dress form is only USD109 + local shipping USD11.98. What a huge difference!
Not wanting to bother my friends in the States, I decided to use package forwarding services instead. Based on the recommendations I got from related forums, I visited and compared numerous websites. I finally decided to use Viaddress after I checked their shipping rate, which was less than USD75. Additionally, their website really looks amazing and they offer free services such as consolidation, repackaging to lower weigh etc., which is great since I’m planning to get more sewing patterns from USA. So I registered with them and got my own US address. I proceed to buy an evening gown pattern from Etsy and the dressform from Amazon.
The dress form took five days to reach Viaddress in Elkhart. They promptly send me an invoice to notify me the very next day. To my horror, the shipping rate was USD204.70! Hey, wasn’t it USD75. That’s nearly three times more! I almost faint. I checked with them if there was any calculation error. The package weighs only 9lbs. Its dimensional weight (79 x 37 x 27cm) is 17kg (about 36lbs). Yet, they were charging me for 41lbs.
Well, here is the rest of horror:
“In short: avoid Viaddress.com unless you’re of a mood to gamble” was what Jon Hancock said in his witty review of Viaddress. Since my stuffs were already with them, I had only two options. Either, I cut my losses and bless them with my dressmaking tools. Or, pick up the tab and trust in the Lord.
Yup, I did the latter. Buying another dress form from Overstock.com will only incur more cost. And I really want that out-of-print vintage sewing pattern. Though fully aware that I may end up with nothing, it was a risk I was willing to take. So I asked Viaddress to consolidate both items and opted for the slightly cheaper Fedex Economy Standard, which was USD180.33. Thank God, Viaddress honored their part of the deal and I got my goods after nine days. Yipee!
Well, it was truly a nerve-wreaking experience. I doubt I will ever attempt any package forwarding service provider ever again. Nonetheless, this whole ordeal had made me treasure my dress form and sewing pattern even more. Thank you Lord.