DIY Dress Form

After my marvellous success with the beautifully fitting Jade Skirt I decided that maybe it was time to make a foray into dressmaking.

One of the things that has put me off in the past is that I’m a totally bizarre size. I’m not much taller than 5ft but I have long legs for my short stature. Because of that I’m incredibly short waisted and I’m also blessed (?!) with a larger than average bust. Throw into the mix that I’m a bit overweight and that I have no stomach muscles (one invasive abdominal operation and three pregnancies will do that to a person!). You get the picture! Off the peg clothes just don’t fit me.

This really put me off trying to make my own clothes. I was too worried about wasting money on fabric that would never make it into something wearable. I didn’t think I had the skills to adjust patterns and I really couldn’t afford a dress form, no matter how much I wanted one! When I came across a tutorial on how to make my own specific dress form using duct tape I got very excited. Cue a trip to the shop for lots of duct tape, a tight top that I didn’t mind losing to the cause and one willing helper in my mum to tape me up!

After a lot of faffing about we seemed to get into the swing of things. One of the most awkward things I found was trying to cut the flippin tape. Our scissors got gummed up after a few cuts and it was really hard to keep cutting without cleaning the scissors off. Especially annoying when we discovered that working in short strips was the way to go. Lots more cutting so lots more frustration. It didn’t help that I am rather squishy and a bit lumpy bumpy in places. The whole thing would definitely have been a bit easier (and we’d have used a lot less tape!) if I was a bit skinnier!

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All that tape felt a bit Fifty Shades!

If I had half a brain I would have rechecked the tutorials before embarking on my mission to become gaffer tape’s new pin up. Tips on covering my neck would have been helpful. As it was we used spare scraps of material that were a bit unweildy. Cling film might have done a better job!

Anyway some time later we emerged mostly successful. We managed to cut the duct tape form off with only a slight injury to my trousers and I could see it was definitely holding shape, even if it did look a bit deflated. I spent the evening trying to tape it back together which was harder than I thought it would be. Definitely keep a helper handy for this if you can!

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Like me, but not!

Then I stuffed it. And I stuffed it and stuffed it and I stuffed it! Three old pillows later and a couple of copies of the Sunday Times and I had a reasonably solid form. Again a helper would be, well, helpful! I had put a clothes hanger inside my form before stuffing so I could hang it up when it was finished. Unfortunately I was a bit heavy handed when stuffing and I managed to break the top of my hanger when I was half finished. There was no way I was taking all my filling out to start again so I found an old brush shaft (thankfully my husband is as bad at throwing potentially useful rubbish out as I am!) and shoved it into my form and stuffed around it. A couple of red bricks with handy holes in the middle have been used to hold it up since I have no actual stand.

I found newspaper great for filling out the form but polyfill (raided from some old pillows) really helped smooth out all the lumps and bumps and gave a nicer shape. I cannot stress enough how much stuffing this thing took. I kept going until I literally couldn’t jam anything more in there!

I was a bit too lazy to try to make a cardboard bottom so I carefully taped it up and filled up with more polyfill. Eventually I was left with a pretty successful version of myself. The measurements all seem to be right and I found an old plant stand to put her on so she’s a bit more movable but now she’s at the same height add me which is marvellous! The whole way through my form was definitely an “it” until I finished. She’s now firmly lodged in my brain as a “her”; with those curves she couldn’t be anything else! She’s not the prettiest but she’ll do to help me get into this whole dressmaking lark. Now to figure out what to make first!

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Miss Polly was a dolly....