Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Make Your Own Dress Form

Several years ago, Connie Crawford came to the Houston Chapter of the American Sewing Guild to lead a pants pattern class and a dress form making class during a sewing retreat weekend.  Due to some amazingly weird problems... like the venue declaring bankruptcy 72 hours before we were to meet and over 100 attendees working with only a 1' x 3' of space each, the pants pattern making took up the whole weekend so the dress form making was postponed for a few months.

Dress form making is all the rage with many online seamstresses but if my experience is typical, it would be better to save your pennies and buy a pre-made dress form.

For example, your partner who is doing the wrapping needs to be very strong to lay on the layers of tape snugly and consistently.  If the taping is not uniformly snug, your final product could be very lopsided.

Secondly, do not gain or lose significant amounts of weight after your dress form is made...unless you want to go through it all again.

Thirdly, be prepared to stand perfectly still for at least one hour for the taping to occur.  I think I was required to be still for over an hour (more like two) and, by the end was feeling faint and parts of my body fell asleep.

Fourthly, at least four layers of tape are required to make an adequate form, three on the body and at least one more after it is cut off you.  In all I think mine ended up with six layers including one on the inside to firm up weak spots like the waist and where the cutting was done.

And another thing...the form needs to be stuffed after you are done.  Stuffing is hard to find and can be expensive.  For a dress form that you can stick pins into you need many pounds of cotton wadding..not batting as for quilts but loose cotton fill...and you must fill the form very firmly.  At the time it was very hard to find the filling locally and mine was never filled.

Why am I going on like this about an old project?

Well, my dress form has been sitting around the house since it was made.  It was int he dining room for a while, then the sewing room and it finally ended up in the back of a closet.  In one of my rare moments of cleaning, I pulled it out the a couple of weeks ago and sat it up on the bathroom counter.  I thought if I saw it often enough I would be motivated to finish the dang thing.

After much thought I tossed it out in this week's garbage.

After all the time, effort and money spent on this dress form would I toss it away?

Let me count the ways....

  1. I have lost weight since then so it is too big.
  2. Although the dress form has a sway back, I do not.
  3. One breast was wrapped as a double A while the other looks like a triple E.
  4. I have a small butt, and have never had much of one, but my dress form had none at all....completely flat.
  5. More financial investment in this project seemed stupid.
  6. Frankly, I didn't like Connie or her attitude and just seeing that dress form on the bathroom counter brought back all the bad feelings I have of the whole experience. 

So there it is on the side of the road waiting to be picked up and sacrificed to the landfill gods.

Rest in peace!

If you really want a dress form just buy one online.  I can't for the life of me remember who sold me mine but the basic form came from Paris, there were three covers for it and around 20 little foam bits to made adjustments to more properly match your shape and it has a lovely oak stand.  It may have come from Fabulous Fit.  I do not see my model on their website and it was certainly less expensive than I see there now, but it is still the best way for me to how a garment will look on me.