7 March 2010

Me and my clone

[Or, Two or three things I've learned about making a dress form]

Today Oh Sew Brixton held an experimental dress form crafting workshop. Being desperate for a dress form but reluctant to fork out hundreds of pounds, I leapt at the chance to make a replica of my torso using nothing but brown paper tape, some cling film, a wet sponge and a trusty helper. 



If you're considering following suit, here are some hints and tips that we learnt during the day:

1) While a dress form fashioned from duct tape has a smoother and more professional-looking aesthetic, as soon as it's cut off the body it's going to collapse. Parcel tape may be the ugly duckling method, but it's reliably sturdy.

2) Wrap yourself in cling film first - not only will it save you cutting up a t-shirt, but it makes the experience of being covered in wet paper relatively more pleasant.

3) Start by wrapping long strips under the bust line and round the waist, then diagonally across the bust and shoulder blades, then smaller strips round shapely lady parts, and some strips diagonally around the hips (bias cut stylee).

4) Apply three layers of tape and try to be systematic about it so you know how many layers you're up to (I did mine a bit too willy nilly).

5) Don't forget to go to the loo before you start getting wrapped!

6) Don't drench the tape in too much water (unlike moi) and, when you've finished, use a hair dryer to blow dry it until you can blow dry no more - if you take the form off while it's still even slightly damp, it'll start to subside.

7) Draw a line down the middle of the back as a guide line for cutting it off, and draw markings at the shoulder blades and waist to guide you when joining it together again.

 

  

Once we'd cut the dress forms off, we taped up the cut with duct tape. Then we drew around the bottom edge onto cardboard to make a base. That's as far as I got with my clone today - I've still got to stuff it (probably with pillow foam), smooth over the surface (possibly with PVA glue, although I'm not sure I'll be able to pin through that), find a suitable stand (I'm thinking a small stool), and eventually stitch a cover (hopefully out of felt). 

If you've got any suggestions of the best way to finish it off, I'd be glad to hear them!

20 comments:

  1. I've been considering making a dress form like this for a while because they are so expensive to buy. I will definitely be referring back to this and following your hints.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been wanting to make this same style of dress form for a few months now. I wonder if a large nylon stocking would be a good "cover" for it? Pinnable and it would look like skin without adding bulk. Either that or a very stretchy jersey stitched into a cover would be great, too. Thanks for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Looks like fun! My husband helped me make one out of duct tape. It took more than 5 lbs of polyfil to stuff it so it was firm enough to use. Then it busted open in places! We were able to repair it and it is very usable just propped on a chair. Perhaps brown paper will withstand the pressure of the stuffing better than duct tape. I read somewhere that you could install a coat hanger in it so you could hang it in a closet to store it, but that didn't work at all, I tried it twice. Best wishes for finishing--it is an excellent tool for fitting!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Congrats on your clone! I like mine (made in the same way), but don't use it too much (it's a little lopsided). I would recommend you to have a look on what tuyi2 from BurdaStyle did: http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/dress-form because that sure looks usable and professional!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Have you thought about covering it in Mod Rock? Remember that plaster covered bandage stuff you probably used to make things with at school? It gives a nice smooth finish and would be pretty sturdy too... then you could buy a long sleeved stretchy top from somewhere, put it on it and sew up the armholes...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Heather, you're a genius! A stretchy jersey top should be perfect. Bonjourlanlune, I did think about Mod Rock but I'd prefer something that I'll be able to stick pins into - any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just found your blog,and love your writing voice! I once made a duct tape form, but didn't like the silver color. Plus mine busted open like paisleyapron's.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Tilly, I just found your blog and love your written voice!

    I once made a dress form out of duct tape, but I didn't like the color. Your tape looks much closer to your skin tone.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think this is an amazing idea and like you have wanted a dress form for a while, I may yet have a go!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. wow, this is brillant!! I agree about applying a felt or jersey cover of sorts (that's what my dress form has on top). Makes it easier to slip clothes over it and push pins into without leaving major visible pin holes?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Just wanted to say that I really like your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Love the blog - have added it to my list. The thing I hate the most about my thrifted dress form is that I'm never sure if I am setting it to what my form really is... this would solve a lot of that fiddling and 'oops did that slip out of alignment?' Will come back to read more!

    ReplyDelete
  13. this looks like fun! You can buy your own covers but I made my own out of jersey and saved myself £10+. It's basically a long high-necked t-shirt with the arms stitched up. Easy-peasy!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Fantastic! One day I aim to make one of these so will be watching to see what wonderful things you do with yours!
    Looks like a fun day out was had by all :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. oh my! what a wonderful idea! :) i have a little lady form- but i'm ehm.. curvier than she is and when i use that to drape- the dresses always come out a bit small. i will be fiddling with your instructions above- as i would love to have a form where i can actually fit the clothes i sew! i've put myself up for the challenge of making at the LEAST 1 dress a month... let ssee if this form can help me. :) i just came across you blog- and must admit, i'm absolutely in love with it! :) bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've just started filling one I made from gaffer tape and and old t-shirt with Polyfilla expanding foam filler. Not sure if it'll work but fingers crossed...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Only just found your blog and it's great!

    Very interested in this entry about making a dress form.

    Can I ask one question though? If someone is a bit more generously proportioned in the bust area, would it be better to wear your normal bra so your boobs are where they would normally be (if you see what I mean!). I'm not entirely sure if you were wearing a bra when you made this?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hi Tilly,
    Thank you for commenting on my blog. Having looked more closely at your photo, I can see that you ARE wearing normal underwear!!

    If I do have a go (eventually!) at making a dress form, I know I won't be brave enough to post photos of the process ... eeek!! I might frighten the horses LOL

    Your blog is really inspirational. It's very encouraging to me, as very much a beginner, to see how you've progressed over such a short time :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such a great blog you've got going on :-)
    I was wondering -what is parcel tape? I'm from Australia and am familiar with duct tape and packing tape (which is kinda like sticky tape on steroids) but haven't come across parcel tape which looks like some sort of paper tape you need to wet?...

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm from Australia but i have seen many dress forms and good ones at that in charity shops way cheap as well maybe something to keep and eye out for but i love this idea

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to chip in! Please don't comment anonymously though - you can leave your email if you don't have an OpenID. Comments on older posts are moderated for spam so won't show up immediately.