Saturday, August 28, 2010

sewer's saturday: making a dressform

Welcome to my new scheduled postings :) hopefully the trite titles and silly pseudonyms will provoke more posting on my part... but we'll see.

This, as you can see, is the first post in the series on "sewer's saturday," posts dedicated to interesting things related to sewing, crafty-crafts, and the like. This means that I will discuss the merits of making my own clothes, thrifting, tailoring, knitting, crocheting, jewelrymaking, etc... I may host a few guests on this part who are more experienced in the different angles of crafty-crafts, as well. :)

So this first Saturday, I wanted to talk a little bit about making my own dressform. Over the summer, I managed to make 3 complete dressforms (which are all, unfortunately, stuck in California because, well, I don't have the money to ship them out here to Pittsburgh.

In the past I have made my dressforms out of:
1 SUPER large t-shirt (preferably used!) (long enough to reach your hips)
2 rolls of duct tape (i love the colored variety :)
bags and bags of old magazines/fabric scraps/newspapers, etc. will also need scissors and one lovely friend to help you.
In the future, I want to instead use paper tape instead of duct tape. Duct tape can be very sticky over time, and that's not good for the fabric. Paper tape (which is used basically like super clean papier-maché) is much cleaner and though not colorful, is much better for the clothes you will make and looks more professional.

So, here are the steps to making an awesome dressform for yourself, out of YOUR OWN body.

1) Put on the shirt over your regular undergarments (and of course a pair of shorts/pants, whathaveyou -- i'm talking just the top here). Don't wear other clothing under the t-shirt, because it will bulk up the form and can create problems when trying to cut off the form.

2) this is where your lovely friend is going to pitch in. (I did 85% of the tape wrapping on my form by myself, which may have been a really intense mistake, but mine turned out okay. In any case, I really don't recommend trying it yourself.) Begin to wrap you up in tape. If you want to do the first layer in duct tape (it's good for under-layers to ensure tightest fit) that's cool. Start at the waist first of all - make one complete wrap of the waist, then the spot right under the bust, then the hips (I hope your shirt is long enough to reach your hips!!)

3) after those 3 major spots, wrap the bust/shoulders. This part is not a horizontal wrap at all. You will pull the tape, in smallish strips first, in a very contoured fashion over the bust, first down from the shoulders to the fullest part of the bust, then from the under-line of the bust to the fullest part. In the back, you will also pull strips in a vertical fashion from the top of the shoulder to the tape spot that delineates (what would be, on the front,) the under-line of the bust. It should look kind of like overalls, basically.

4) Follow the form of the body to tape the remainder of the shoulders and the upper torso. Make sure the tape fits the contours of the body and doesn't fall like a shirt might, blanketing certain parts. You want it to fit like a glove!

5) after the bust/shoulders is done, you may wrap up the rest of the lower torso. Horizontally wrap it! Oh, and make sure you can breathe!!!!

6) after the first layer, basically do the same thing (steps 2-5) once (or if you prefer, twice) again. Use paper tape for the top (2) layer(s).

7) This step you will need scissors (and to stand veeerrrry still!). Your friend will cut you out of the form from the bottom up, in the exact middle of the back. Make sure not to cut any undergarments!!!

8) After the scissors, you will need the paper tape again -- tape up the seam where your friend cut you out so that both sides match up perfectly!

9) begin filling the form with scraps, starting with the armholes. Once the shoulder looks "filled", tape up the armholes with the paper tape. Do the same for the neck hole.

10) fill up the rest of the form with scraps, making sure that it is completely filled. The scraps *may* compress, so be careful not to loosely fill in the form. Make sure it is packed thoroughly!

11) when you get to the bottom, tape up most of the bottom opening except for a space in the middle to fit whatever pole you decide to use! (I just stick my forms on stools for now, I don't have a good pole yet...)

12) voila! a perfect dressform of your own body to use for making your OWN beautiful clothes! And the majority of it is reused/repurposed materials!!

If you have any questions, send them to oathkeeper24 (at) gmail (dot) com