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Make my own body dress form with plaster

Denise1260 | Posted in General Discussion on


I would like to know if anybody tried to make her body dress form with plaster cast and papier mache as showed at this link : http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00002_p4.asp

I would be very interested to make one and would really appreciate your advise.

Thank you very much in advance for your help !




  1. starzoe | | #1

    Years and years ago when my sons were young teenagers, the three of us made a plaster cast on me. We still talk about all the fun we had and how much we laughed all through it. I used it for about 20 years and finally outgrew it. The most difficult part was to find a stand to place it on, finally found a hand-carved ashtray stand, very substanial and sturdy which, although awkward, did the job.

    1. Denise1260 | | #2

      This is great ! I am so interested in making one, but I would need to have information on material needed, quantities etc... It is hard to find though I think the idea is really great and I feel it is more accurate than making one's own body dress with taper rolls. Do you think you could help me ? Thank you so much !

      1. starzoe | | #3

        If you will go to the url posted above in an earlier message you will find almost all the information needed. Also, if you Google for papier mache dress forms you will find a lot of references.

        1. Denise1260 | | #5

          Hi Starzoe

          Thank you very much for this advice. I found some more information on body dress with papier maché. Thank you !!

  2. Susan -homedecsewing | | #4

    Denise, in reading your post I thought of an idea for a stand. You could cut a shape smaller than yourself out of 1/4 inch plywood in your height with a wide foot base. Cut a slice up the bottom center, say 4 or 5 inches deep 1/4 inch wide. Then another piece of wood maybe 8 inches deep 14 inches wide, with a slice 3 inches that will slide onto the bottom in a cross. If you think of how paper dolls stand up , it may make more sense. I just thought this one up so you may need to change the measurements a bit. you could cover the wood with some soft flannel so it won't snag your fabric I think your dressform could be on top . You could fill the void with a can of spray foam insulation from Home depot. Sounds like a fun project, if you are near Fort Myers I 'd love to help you make it. Papier mache' is messy fun . Good luck , Susan

    1. Denise1260 | | #6

      Hi Susan

      Thank you for sharing this idea with me, I will think about it more seriously. In fact, I live in Switzerland, which is quite far away from you :-)). But thank you so much for proposing to help me !

      1. RedFishBlueFish | | #7

        I recently made a paper-tape dressform of my torso with good success; the hardest part was finding the correct form of paper tape, which I eventually found at Staples. It's wonderful for making fitted skirts, and now I have a lovely gored skirt that was a breeze to fit.I plan to make a full-body version ending mid-thigh with some assistance in the next few days, and will be making a PVC pipe and t-joint stand to place it on.I recommend trying this method to anyone who has a friend with paper-mache/sculpting skills, as it's cheap and easy, if painstaking.

        1. Denise1260 | | #8

           also tried to make a body dress form with paper tape but I did not really success in it. I am happy for you that it worked so well for you. I would be very grateful if you could explain me a little further how you make the part with PVC tube and t-joint stand, this was a problem to me and was not very happy with my result. Maybe you have a picture also ? Thank you !

          1. RedFishBlueFish | | #9

            The trick to the paper-tape dressform, for me, was to let the paper tape go where it wanted to go. So for example, if I wanted to put a piece over my hip, I would put the centre of the tape over the point I wanted to cover, and then smooth both ends of the tape, travelling outward from that centre point, over my body gently with my hands, the way you would smooth lotion over your skin. Let your body's curves direct the tape, do not try to 'wrap' yourself the way you would with duct tape, as your body will distort instead of the paper tape if you try that way. My first dressform with my hubby as my helper was a complete disaster, so don't despair, you just have to get used to how paper tape handles.Have you ever worked with plaster strips, say for a face mask? Sometimes you can wriggle and shape the weave the plaster is infused in, but most of the time, you just layer it on the area you want to cover and use your fingers to smooth it over the curves of the face.At your request, I just made a quick and ugly MS Paint of the idea I had for a glue-less PVC pipe stand, but I haven't made it yet- I'll give it a whirl tonight.Hopefully it makes sense.

          2. Gloriasews | | #10

            What a great-looking stand & easy to make!  Inexpensive, too!  Light-weight, too!  Hope it works well!  Let us know.


          3. RedFishBlueFish | | #12

            Well, it was super cheap and easy to put together!It definitely needs some ends on the bottom four pipes to shore up the base and stabilize it. (Think rickety table)I would also like to fill the base with sand, which makes the ends (caps, I think they are called) all the more necessary.

          4. Gloriasews | | #13

            The sand is an excellent idea, as that is where you need the weight - at the bottom.  Also, the end caps will not only stabilize the stand, but will finish it nicely.  I wish I'd known about using PVC pipe when I made my stand out of dowels & L-shaped shelf supports in the 1980s. 


          5. User avater
            Becky-book | | #11

            cool stand idea!! and the "Paint" job is OK.I have a laptop and hate the touch pad so I bought a wireless mouse that uses one of the USB ports... it is great! (turned the touch pad OFF).Becky

    2. MaryinColorado | | #14

      Wouldn't it be fun to have a Gatherings retreat and make these paper mache manneqins?  What fun that would be!  Was it hard to cut it off?  What did you wear underneath? 

      I remember watching the ortho specialist in the ER making casts, he would be a great resource for advice.   Mary

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #15

        Oh what fun that would be. I once suggested DH help me with the duct tape form, and from the look on his face, NO WAY....Don't even Go There! I wish I had someone who could just fit me properly so I could re-do my muslin and draft my sloper blocks again...sigh...but I have not been happy with what I can accomplish on my own. I may just have to go back to school to do that. A retreat would be more fun, and cost about the same. Cathy

  3. ellaluna | | #16

    I made one of my sister with plaster bandages. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is: DON'T SKIMP ON THE PLASTER BANDAGES!!!!I'm falling asleep but here's a link to my attempt:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellaluna/I used a tree stand. Can provide more details later.

    1. User avater
      ghis | | #17

      Hi ellaluna .Wow!!Is there anything you cant do ? You have my admiration
      that`s for sure.As soon as I can ,I will make my own body paper wrap,thanks to you,I have been convince and I will save all your photos!!

      1. ellaluna | | #19

        Awwwwww, thanks! Feel free to copy any of my organizational/storage ideas. Honestly much of it is just mad chaos ;)I do intend to blog (eventually) about making the dress form. There is a good instructional resource out there (as linked to, above) but knowing the myriad of ways you can go wrong making this thing... oy! I have started a blog about it but have yet to finish it, so as soon as I do finish it, I'll post the link here.

        1. User avater
          ghis | | #20

          thanks ellaluna(SUCH A PRETTY NAME)

    2. sewelegant | | #18

      Thank you ellaluna for the peek into your sewing, craft space!  I saw one thing I am going to copy... not exactly, just the idea or gist, what have you, as I do not know exactly what you store there.  It's using a gift wrap holder to store my rolls of interfacing. I now stand them upright in a basket and though it is handy this way and keeps the interfacing unwrinkled, I like the idea of placing the rolls in the slots of the gift wrap holder and hanging it on the wall by my cutting table.  I'll be able to look through them at eye level to find what I want.  I could even make myself a custom holder out of plastic and make the slots the exact size I need!

    3. Ritzy | | #21

      Could drywall tape-the meshy looking stuff be used for making a dressform?

      1. ellaluna | | #22

        Wow, I don't know. The nice thing about the plaster bandages is that they are pre-plastered, so all you have to do is wet them. I don't know a lot about drywall tape, but the material needs to be something that can hold its shape on its own after it's been applied to the body. The plaster bandages also dry quickly, and if you have a person standing in a body cast, I have a feeling that's going to be an important factor for them!

      2. starzoe | | #23

        Having done my share of drywalling, and drywall taping, I wouldn't want to try it on my body.

    4. MaryinColorado | | #24

      Wow!  You did an incredible job on your sister's wedding dress!  It is just beautiful and so is she.  It fits like a dream so all that time spent making the dressform and handstitching paid off.  You are a remarkable seamstress!!! 

      I look forward to seeing your instructions as that's the best looking form I've seen made by hand.  Mary

      1. ellaluna | | #25

        Oh thank you Mary!!! I am going to do a tutorial/blog about it. I'm on vaca right now but when I get home next week I'll post the first installment on my blog, and post the link here for everybody.Thank you again.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #26

          Have a wonderful time!  I look forward with anticipation!  Mary

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