Create a Custom Dress Form
Many people have sewn their whole lives without a custom dress form and didn’t suffer a lick. But if you’re lucky enough to have one, it sure is nice. Just imagine making little style changes and fitting improvements on a 3-D version of yourself. Here’s why a dress form is great and how you can make one, with a little help.
Minor pattern adjustments become easy and obvious when you’re looking at the actual problem in fabric on “yourself.” Of course, custom-made forms are as useful as commercial versions for all the traditional dress-form functions—draping, visualizing, shaping collars, holding garments during sleeve insertion, hemming, and so on. But none of the fitting benefits are possible if the form you’re using doesn’t mirror, with reasonable accuracy, your body shape and posture.
The shape of your shoulders, the position and angle of your neck and the unique distribution of your body weight are issues far more important than questions of circumference, since most clothes hang from the shoulders or the waist, and don’t fit snugly. And this is precisely what a custom form provides: an accurate recreation of your posture and your shape, while keeping within an inch or so of your current circumference measurements.
The best feature of the do-it-yourself, duct tape form described here is that it’s so quick to make you can have a working form ready in less than two hours. And, you can accomplish this for about $15.
Also, check out four other dressform methods in our article, Clone Yourself A Fitting Assistant.
If you can, recruit two helpers: One cuts the tape into suitable strip sizes; the other applies the tape. Use old scissors, as the tape adhesive gums them up, and precut 4-inch to 6-inch strips and longer strips for the waist and crossing the heart. You will need two to three 60-yard rolls of 2-inch duct tape. The brand makes a difference, because some tape shrinks over time and change the size of your dress form. Ace Hardware house brand holds up well, as does Duck Tape.
Prepare the wrappee
Wear well-fitted undergarments. Tape a 2-inch strip cut from a file folder to your skin and over your underwear, down your center back from your hairline to below your hips. This protects you and your underwear when you cut off the dress form. Then put on a long T-shirt. This remains inside the form, so choose one you don’t mind sacrificing to the project. The T-shirt needn’t be too tight, because the tape pulls it in. A turtleneck T-shirt is ideal, or you can fill in around the neckline with plastic wrap before taping.