Thursday, March 25, 2010

Updated Dressform Complete!

A few weeks ago I decided I wasn't going to procrastinate any longer, wasn't going to wait until I lost those few extra pounds, nor keep debating with myself over "corset/no corset" before I re-did my dressform. Enough of waiting!

I made my first Duct Tape Double dressform in 1998. (You can read about my experience (and an early online review) Here at Leanna's dressmaking studio site. Scroll down and click on "Jennifer - Stand and Taping Ideas.")

That form was good back then. It served me well despite the fact that I kept my hands on my hips so the shoulders were raised out of place. This caused issues when trying to fit garments over that area. 'sigh' So for the last few years I've said I wanted to re-duct tape myself for a better and more accurate dressform. I woke up on a Wednesday and told myself I would be doing it that very weekend.

A quick trip to a discount store brought me rolls of silver tape, beige tape and stuffing. I also picked up two cheap t-shirts for the tape to go on. (You wrap your body over the shirts which you then cut through both the tape and shirts to remove the form.) It took about three hours for my husband to wrap me (keeping my arms down at my sides of course!) and another two to drape it over my current form and stuff to fill out the new layer. I will say that it was much easier this time as my fitting skills are SO much better than before. (And that includes my time spent in fashion school a couple of years after the first form was made.)

Measurements were taken before we cut the form off. As I stuffed and taped up the back I took the same measurements so the form was my perfect size (despite it not being my ideal size. Custom sewing is so clothing can fit YOU perfectly; NOT display a number dress size.)

I think the best thing about having a true dressform again is for draping and pattern fitting over the back (a hard-to-fit spot when sewing alone) and getting the armhole cut just right for movement (crucial when making well-fitted historical clothing). And even though corsets will alter the body shape, the upper back won't change much. With time, patience and a good mirror or two, I can manage fitting issues on the front. Even having the hips the right size will help skirt fitting when I throw on a bustle or hoop and petticoats.

I'm so excited to try out the new dressform with my current Regency project. Stay tuned for an update on how it goes. (A new corset is first on the list.)


Costume Queen said...

I've always wanted my own dress form, but they're so expensive! I had heard of the duct tape dummy a while ago but never tried it because I was worried about it not working out. Seeing yours makes me want to give it a try!

Jennifer said...

Give it a go! It does take time and patience but is sure worth it. You can tape yourself over a corset too. (Just be sure your taping partner doesn't cut the laces when cutting the form off you!)
My first form was about $50 in supplies. This time it was closer to $25 as I was only making the shape a bit larger.
Let me know if you have any specific questions about making it.

Amber said...

I've done this before, the first time I was in my corset and it was quite scary. On Tuesday my mom and I ventured to do a natural form of me (w/o the corset) and I almost fainted. WARNING: Eat before you venture into this. Mine has only cost me $20. It's very handy! :)

Costume Queen said...

Oh I will definitely ask you questions about making the dress form when I'm ready to do it! =D

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

This looks great. A question though - how is it when using pins on the form? As you are pushing them through the silver tape which is sticky doesn't this gum up the pins?

Jennifer said...

Great question! Yes, I do stick pins into the form, and yes, they do get gummed up. I realized this the first time I used the form and ruined a few good pins. So I have a specific box of ball head pins which are only for the dressform.

Also, I only stick the pins in a little and clean the ends with Goo-Gone, rubbing alcohol, other sticky tape, etc.

With using the cheap ball head pins, sometimes the ball will come off when I'm trying to pull it out. Again - why I use a separate box of easily replaceable pins.

It is one downside to the duct tape form. I know there are other ways to do a custom dressform (paper mache tape, plaster, foam, etc.), but the sticky pins I can work with to have the opportunity for custom garment draping and fitting.