20 November, 2008

Custom Dress Forms in a Day

For all the home decor and small project sewing I do, there are very few clothing items I've actually ever made (or attempted to make, that is). Many years ago when bff Ashley and I were relatively new sewers (I'm talking about 11 or 12 years ago), we each decided to make something for ourselves. I bought a pattern for a super cute high waisted short sundress that I was going to make out of a pretty white eyelet fabric. It was supposed to be one of those patterns they claim is "Sew Easy!" Riiiiight. "Sew Easy" my foot. Anyway, Ashley for whatever reason, decided her first clothing attempt would be on a shirt. And no, not a t-shirt, but a blouse. As in long sleeves and buttons and the whole nine yards. I'm sure you are smarter that we were to realize this was most likely not going to end well.

And it didn't.

Both of our items turned out so tight that I could barely breathe because the chest was so tight, and that is nothing to say of the giant uni-boob my cute little sundress gave me as well and the circulation that was being cut off under my arm pits. As for Ashley, she could barely even button her blouse and if memory serves me correct, one sleeve was longer than the other and the collar was funky and the buttons and button holes were lopsided as well. You have to really know Ashley and I in real life to know that by George we were wearing our creations! I actually wore mine out of the house out to Mexican dinner with my family (I can still remember it well), and I'm pretty sure Ashley just wore hers around her apartment while she cleaned that day and ran errands. I'm sure we were quite a sight. However, in or defense, go ahead and try to take your own waist, chest, arm, and leg measurements and see how accurate you are. I dare you.

I've made a few small things with great difficulty for my nieces and the boys since, but I honestly really try to stay away from sewing clothes. That first experience did teach me something though. And that is, that if you're going to sew clothes for yourself, it is important to have a dress form. But geez, have you checked out the price on those suckers? They are not cheap, nor do they exactly fit in with my decor. But that's okay, because I found two awesome ideas for actually making your own exact replica dress form of your own body. Who knows, if I do this and decide I'm still not a good apparel seamstress, then if nothing else, having an exact replica of my body shape will probably encourage me to get back on my diet and exercise plan!

Duct Tape Dress Form (stick with me, I promise it's good)

You Will Need
-A large T-shirt that fits below the bum that will be cut up and destroyed in the process
-Another small piece of discard able cloth (a paper towel will do)
-At least two 45 gram rolls of duct tape
-A pair of sharp scissors
-Cardboard, and cardboard tubing
-Something to stuff the form with (peanuts, foam, polyfil, old clothes, be creative)
-A helper

Instructions (view slide show for photo montage)
1-Put on large T-shirt and have your helper begin to wrap the roll of duct tape around your body. Make sure the tape is somewhat smooth and that there are no gaps in between wraps. Stop wrapping once the bust is reached.

2-Cut several strips of tape from the roll and apply them it a vertical pattern along the curves of the bust for most natural looking shape fit. Be sure to pat the tape down after the helper applies it to ensure shape.

3-Once taping of bust is complete, begin to extend tape from front to back (making sure model’s hair is clipped up as not to tape hair...eek). Apply the second piece of fabric around the neck and back (sort of looks like a scarf or ascot) and begin wrapping tape around shoulders and bottom of arms until you have completed the basic shape of the dress form you are looking for.

4-Repeat by continuing to add two more layers of duct tape over original layer to complete a total of three layers. Fee free to either follow same wrapping method or try a vertical layering method, whichever you prefer.

5-With a sharpie, draw a vertical and horizontal line to mark the center of the dress form.

6-With the scissors, begin to cut tape and T-shirt at the base of the form where your line was drawn. Make sure you have your hand in place between the T-shirt and the regular shirt you are wearing as not to cut your own shirt in the process. If you are having a hard time cutting all the way up the form from the bottom, you can cut from the top as well.

7-Remove form from body and have your helper hold the form while you add a layer of tape to the cut line. Now you have the desired shape!

8-Cut a piece of cardboard that fits the bottom of your form and the sleeve holes, tape them in place and stuff the form until you have your desired shape and mass. Close off the top with tape. Either affix finished form to pole made from cardboard tubing or hang from hanger.
source: Etsy Labs

Molded Papier Mache Dress Form

You Will Need
-paper (brown paper is best so it looks nicer)

Instructions (view slide show for photo montage)
1-First make a plaster mold. For full instructions, go to www.mytwindressforms.com.Cut the form in half along the sides. Line it with paper towels to keep the papier-mâché from sticking to the plaster.

2-Apply a 1/2-in. layer of papier-mâché. Make it thicker at the edges, and be sure they’re very smooth.

3-Drying may take several days. When fully dry, remove from the cast and smooth over surface cracks with a thin layer of papier-mâché.

4-Glue the halves together and tie firmly. Slide shims under the cords to tighten them as the glue dries.
source: Threads Magazine


Anonymous said...

I'm suppose to be writing a paper, and I'm reading how to make a dollmaker's dummy. I'm making the duct tape one. You know what would be even more fun? One made with bright pink duct tape. If I get to it, I'll send you a picture.

P said...

There's also a great tutorial of this on etsy. It's a good idea.

Lilly P. Wannabe said...

What a neat idea! I love your blog, and I left you an award on mine!

Lilly P. Wannabe said...

What a neat idea!! I love your blog and I left you an award on mine!

John said...

I heard that http://www.pgmdressform.com offers custom made-to-order dress forms for their customers. Don't know what the pricing is... but I've seen their regular stuff and it looks pretty decent.