Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dress Form Wrap-Up, Part Five

There have been questions about the form, chiefly about how I went about the padding. Well, to sum it up, in layers!

There are various ways to do this project and at the end I will give you some links to other bloggers who have made the attempt. Kenneth King seems to have started this ball rolling a while back. His method which some have used and some, like my self, have not, requires that two covers be made. One cover, the one closest to the form,  fits the form tightly. Then the form is padded and covered with the "real life" form, the one made to fit your body. It all works with a zipper and can be removed without the dress form having any changes to it's structure. This enables you to remove it and then maybe make another one for your sister and zip that one on when you go to sew for her. It's a great idea.

In my case, a bit of the Selfish Seamstress rubbed off on me. I went with padding directly to the form and covering it with the final cover made to my shape. It does unzip but the padding stays on the form. I haven't made clothing for anyone but my grandchildren and myself for years so I don't need the versatility of changing covers.

Here go my thoughts in general and on padding in particular.

* Use a natural fiber that will shrink a bit. A blouse weight or quilting cotton is definitely to thin. Think home dec linen weight here.

* Shrink that form down when completely done with your spray bottle of water as discussed in the last blogpost.

* Have a readily available and willing person to measure as needed and give honest opinions of the fit while you make the cover. I went into this thinking I would do it all by my lonesome. I can't tell you how many times I called, "Honey, can you help me a minute?'


Pardon Miss Naked Form. You can see she has dials, crevasses, and ridge lines to hide. That corrugated board duct taped to the dummy is to extend the hip/thigh line so I get a realistic copy of my own hip/thigh area. My favorite bra was sacrificed to give the right distance to the apex and the right cups size. If you are anything but a B cup you will need to do this, IMO.  You will need to fill the bra with batting densely so it won't collapse in the process. Do this before proceeding.

I started by putting the toile cover on the form and zipped it up. There was plenty of space to be changed. I did this by the halves. In other words, I raised the skirt portion and padded out that first. Then I put that back down when done and upzipped the bodice portion and padded out the top. I thought this was just easier than trying to put a whole cover on the padded form and dislodging everything in the process. So skirt first, then bodice.

I have a drawer full of should pads, many dating back to that famous shoulder pad era, the Eighties. First I needed to put in a little tummy. Is anyone other than an Olympian really that flat in the gut? Not us real women, anyway! So in went the tummy. I used a large triangular covered foam pad 3/4 inch thick on the shoulder edge. It tapered to nothing on the other edges. This was a cheap ugly pad but it was perfect for this. The thick edge of the pad is horizontal on the tummy. I pinned it on the edges shoving the pin directly into the form, no in and out pinning here. We'll do the rest of the tummy when we get to the bodice.

Here is the formula: Pad, measure, pad some more until you get your real measurement. You know better than anyone where your lumps and bumps are so that's where you start padding. This single shoulder pad took care of all my tummy issue so I moved on to the hips after measuring the waistline and finding it spot on.  If you need more tummy bulk than I did here, do it in layers of concentric circles or ovals, whichever is appropriate.


My upper hips are narrow as they lead into my waistline but my hips are wide. Thank you bone structure. I padded them in layers putting the smallest layer where they were the fullest width.  Each succeeding layer gets larger and again it is pinned in. The pins worked fine for all of this for me. I checked measurements on different amounts below the waistline to get the proper amount of padding in the right place. It does look like me. This side view also shows how the tummy got it's mature look from those triangular shoulder pads.

Before I go further, at this point I am using a felted wool blanket for the padding. A  couple of layers of Warm and Natural batting would be similar to one of what I used. I also used 1/2 inch loft poly batting  in other parts of the process as you will see in a bit. But so far all I have discussed is with the felted batting.


Here you can see how I padded the booty, again using ever larger circles of felted wool.

Your cover's skirt has been up all this time. Fill in any crevasses or ridge lines.  I had to do that at the edge of the cardboard. I used a folded piece of the wool  batt with the raw edges uneven, the way you would do a sleeve head. So I had the roll of the fold butted up to the edge of the cardboard and then the two layers further up and as it reached the waistline it was just one layer of batt.

Measure everything again to make sure you are at the right sized. Next I covered everything below the waist with one layer of batt, the wool one. Not smooth enough so I put on another layer of batt, cutting slits/darts to make it all fit smoothly over the bottom of the form. Put the skirt down. Measure again to make sure you are at the right size. If all is OK move on to the bodice.

Unzip the bodice and pull it down so the waistline is exposed. At this point you have no neck or arms.

First I put the other thick shoulder pad point in the opposite direction, butting the thick edges of the shoulder pads at the waistline.

Have you ever noticed how the upper chests on these things are flat? This one even has a dial in the middle where others would have cleavage.  There is no accounting for flesh here. This bra fits just fine but ladies, I do have a bit of flesh, aka, cleavage up there so I put in the  shape you see in green up there. This was the high loft poly batting. I wanted something thick and soft for that area. Nuff said. My back and the rest of the bodice needed no further enlarging so I then covered the whole bodice area with a layer of the poly quilt batting cutting darts and slits as needed to get it all to lay smooth. This final cover which did go all around the bodice helped smooth things out . Also again, keep padding and measuring till you get it just right. Now zip it all up and stand back and look at yourself. It was not moment of pride for my body, nor was it a moment of "dear Lord" promising to diet either. It was an acknowledgement that it really did look like me and DH agreed. I sort of felt relief more than anything after all that work.

Next I stitched up the collar, pulled the casing tight on the bottom edge, and appliqued on the "arms" as shown in previous posts.  I measured it all again and it was spot on. Yippee! My weight fluctuates maybe five pounds from winter to summer so I am not concerned about making a new one too soon. I have made an oaktag copy of all the parts so it will be much easier to whip one out if needed in the future. This really wasn't particularly difficult. What it was was intense and it took me three weekends to complete and that was averaging 6 hours a day. So it's a major todo that will put your regular sewing on hold for a bit but so so well worth it. I do hope some of you try it and let me know how it all comes out.

Here are links to a few other sewing fanatics that have also made their own dress forms. I will say this way way beats standing around while my friend covered me in duct tape. Good luck with yours and have fun with it. Stay focused. You can do this!  On all of these links I have tried to put the first post in the link. Most of these cover several posts to complete the project so search forward to get all their info. Thanks to all of you who sweated through this process with me and to all these bloggers who inspired me.And a special thank you to Laura Nash and her spray bottle! She is brilliant.

Gorgeous Fabrics

Phyllis's Dress Form project

Kari's Form

Laura's Dress Form

A search on Pinterest will also bring up some good info as well. Stay in touch and let me know how this all works out for you......Bunny


18 comments:

  1. Ive looked at doing this but the upper chest/back on my form (the smallest) is too big for me, so fitted dresses would be too small for the dress form. Did you have this problem?

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    1. I am just a tad to long in the shoulder seam. I figure the additional with is my arms. I am going to mark "my" shoulder line with some black embroidery floss and work from that. Best I could do.

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  2. Your dress form is so pretty with the toille cover

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  3. " It was not moment of pride for my body..." Honey, I would be dancin' with joy if my body looked that nice!! Your pretty double is not only beautiful but functional as well. *sigh* ~~shaking my head in amazement at all that you do~~

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  4. Thank you so much for all the information you shared! Pretty sure i will look up your posts again down the line when i want to make my dress form a body double :)

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  5. Your dress form is so beautiful! BTW, your site has changed since I last viewed, and it's beautiful, too. Well, no surprise there. I enjoy reading your blog.

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    1. Glad you like the revamp, Karla. Red had always been a good color for me.

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  6. Your dress form is decoration for your sewing room as well as being useful. I had a ductape dress form that my dh and I had made a number of years ago. Unfortunately I gained weight. Since I had my moulage from Kenneth King's class I used that to pad out my form to fit my current body. I really should make a new cover in a nicer fabric than muslin since I really love how your toile looks. Enjoy.

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  7. Wow - Your form looks great! I can't believe all the work that went into it! What a great resource for those of us who have yet to bite the bullet.

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  8. Your dress form (and your blog) are always inspirational. Thank you for that. Because your heading does not show in my blog reader, I don't know when you changed it to the crocheted doily. But there must be a story behind that doily. My grandmother used to make them; she called the pattern a pineapple design.

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    1. I did an ombre dye effect on the doily and also a really fine glitter treatment to the browner parts. What looks like spots of dust all over is really the super fine glitter. This was done to make a Leather and Lace bag that I really liked when complete. As with many of my bags it was gifted to a friend.

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    2. Just wanted to add that I change the header on the blog on the first of the month each month. This one came out bigger than planned but February is a short month so that will change soon enough.

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  9. Thanks for lighting the fire under us to get our own dressforms finished and
    /or refined. It is a pleasure to read your blog. I have only been subscribed for a year, but a very I formative and inspiring year.

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  10. Thanks for lighting the fire under us to get our own dressforms finished and
    /or refined. It is a pleasure to read your blog. I have only been subscribed for a year, but a very I formative and inspiring year.

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  11. My sister who sews came out to visit and did the duct tape thing with me, but I don't like it. The breasts collapsed and the adhesive stinks. So I may do this after reading all the links you provide. I've been on a diet, lost 26 pounds (!), so am not quite ready to make a form. Maybe in a few more months once my body stabilizes a bit. Thanks for all the instructions, they will definitely be helpful when I go ahead and do this!

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    1. Congratulations on the weight loss! That's wonderful. Duct tape forms leave a lot to be desired for the effort required. They just lose their shape unless you fill them with plaster and it is really aggravating that they can't be pinned.

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  12. Bunny, this was all so helpful. Now that more than a year has passed, are you using your dressform and still happy with it? I'm either going to dress mine up or toss her out. We haven't had the best relationship. ;)

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  13. I definitely use it and am still very happy with it. It has not lost it's shape at all, unlike my duct tape version. I love that I can pin into the fabric and padding. I am still a firm believer in muslins but this definitely helps with fitting, hemming and placing things on a garment like pockets, buttons, etc. Dress yours up, Robyn!

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