Have you ever made a dress form?

2 Sep

A few months ago, when I wanted to try putting some darts in the back of a top, I decided that having a dress form would be really useful. It just wasn’t possible to pin darts in place when I was wearing the top, and doing it when it was off would just involve multiple pinning and then trying on attempts until I got it right. I started having a look around at dress forms to buy – on ebay and the like, and quickly came to two conclusions:

1. Even second hand, dress forms are really expensive
2. Even an adjustable dress form is unlikely to ever be a particularly accurate copy of my body.

I’d previously seen an article on Tilly’s blog about making your own dress form, and did a bit more research around this. It seems there are different approaches you can choose when making your own dress form, the two most common being to use either gaffa tape or gummed paper tape. The general principal is that you wrap yourself up in your chosen medium and then cut it off, therefore ending up with something that should be a fairly good representation of your body. You can then choose to fill your dress form if you wish – with expanding foam or scrunched up newspaper.

Image source: Ancien-Nouveau

Given that you need a partner to wrap you up to create the dress form, and I wasn’t entirely sure what Marcus’ response would be if I asked him to spend an afternoon basically turning me into a mummy (he’d either have got really into it and done a brilliant job, or got really bored!), I asked a few of my sewing friends if they were interested in making one, thinking that we could all spend an afternoon taping each other up, and generally having sewing chat! A few of them were game, but unfortunately it’s taken about 3 months to actually find a day that we could all make!

But on Saturday, we are hopefully all going to make our very own body double! We’ve decided to go with the gummed paper tape method – the consenus seems to be that this is less likely to deform in the future than a gaffa tape one – and I’ve been doing a bit of research on the best way to do it. I’ve found a few good tutorials, which I’m definitely going to be referring to on Saturday, such as this one from Jejune, this one from Threads (they also have a general article with links to all the different methods), and this one from Tea for Teal.

I’m also intrigued by this idea, and thinking of giving it a go:

Instead of using the paper tape form that you put on yourself as the dress form, you use it as a mould, lining it with a layer of felt or something similar, and then building up more layers of tape inside the felt, and then taking the outside off.

This approach has a number of advantages:
– The form you create will be pretty much exactly the same size as you, rather than being a little bigger all around due to the layers of tape you built up
– You can actually build up more layers of tape on the inside, to make it stronger, without worrying about making it too much bigger than yourself
– It has a smoother finish, rather than a lumpy layer of tape
– The layer of felt means you can more easily pin things to it

Image source: tyui2 on BurdaStyle

However, I do wonder about quite how easy it will be to get the felt to lay smoothly into the dress form cast you have created. I think I’m going to give this method a go though – if it fails, I can always still use the original paper tape one!

I really can’t wait to get this dress form made – I’ve had a few sewing jobs recently (putting darts in the back, finding the right place to put the zipper in the back of a dress) that a dress form will be invaluable for.

If any of you have ever made a paper tape dress form and have any tips to share, I’d love to hear them!

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6 Responses to “Have you ever made a dress form?”

  1. Daniela September 4, 2013 at 07:14 #

    Yes, I have made a dress form from duck tape before. It was a nightmare, because I could hardly breath and it took ages. And then the shape and size of my bust was not right. Over time boops and bum became even flatter :( and that although I had stuffed the form tightly with stuffing. I really hope your method will work better! I am looking forward to hear about your experience :)

    • Kelly September 5, 2013 at 18:34 #

      Yeah, I’ve heard that the duck tape ones can deform over time, I’m hoping the paper tape might hold up better. I will make sure to take lots of pictures as we do it, so that I can provide a full report!

  2. Jennifer Lauren September 5, 2013 at 01:07 #

    I’ve never made a dress form but have read a few articles on making them, mostly the gaffa tape version. I look forward to reading how this goes for you, it’s a great alternative to modern dress forms :)

    • Kelly September 5, 2013 at 18:35 #

      It is, and much cheaper! I’m really excited about having one, I just hope it works out!

  3. Lucy September 8, 2013 at 15:23 #

    I made a gaffer tape one, and just blogged about it so you can have a giggle at my terrible photo! I linked back here to you as I just had to blog about it as soon as I saw your post!

    • Kelly September 9, 2013 at 00:42 #

      Haha, nice photo! Made the paper tape one yesterday, it’s looking pretty good :) will have to get the photos up soon!

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