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Make your Dress Form Work for Multiple Figures

When I went behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera, I ran into a bunch of people-on hangers. I learned the costumer there makes body doubles that fit over standard dress forms. This way the designers can create a custom-fitting garment without the performer having to appear for multiple fittings, and the Met doesn’t have to store an army of dress forms.

Inspired by the Met’s system, I set out to create a removable body double for a standard dress form. It’s a great solution for anyone who sews for others-mothers and daughters, best friends, wedding parties, and dressmakers as well, or just yourself and an ever-changing figure. You can create a removable, padded cover for anyone you sew for without having to invest in multiple dress forms, and your “customer” doesn’t have to be present.

The process for making the body double isn’t difficult, and the result is well worth the time invested. This method takes four steps: making a foundation layer for the dress form, fitting a cover layer to the figure, padding the gap between the layers, and making it removable. I will show you how to make the perfect custom dress form, starting with the standard dress form you already own from this article from Threads issue 161.

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  1. catstexas | | #1

    Love this idea. Question: what to do when the dress form is way too short from shoulder to bust point? Padding doesn't quite do it.

  2. User avater
    kennethdking | | #2

    That depends on the figure you're working with. Our model had a bust lower than the form, but she also had more girth--I was able to build out the form with padding enough to lower the bust.

    I'm assuming that in your case you don't have sufficient girth to correct this. In your case, this would require building out the form with poster board and padding, to raise the shoulder/neck area. In this case, you'd not be making a removable cover, but attaching this rigid structure to your form.

    I'd first figure out the pattern pieces by draping fabric onto the neck and shoulder area, then cutting t hem out in heavy poster board and gluing them together. You'll be duplicating the neck/shoulder area, which you then would attach to the form with thin nails or bank pins, inserting padding to stabilize the structure.

    It sounds like a nosebleed but really isn't--I used to do it when I worked in window display--a hot glue gun is useful here.

    Does this make sense?

  3. user-7564231 | | #3

    I know this is way late- but I was wondering about how much batting one would need is just adding curves to say a size 6 body form? If adjusting a non- plus size and not really sizing up, how much fusible batting would you have handy? Planning to use shoulder pads or cups to slightly pad breasts.

    Thanks in advance!

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