Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's a Mom Pinata!

That's what Andy, my college freshman, said. I thought that was a good description. My husband, Mark, and I decided to make me a dress form for Christmas. Now, when I say "we" decided, I mean I worked on getting him to agree to do this for a few years, finally announcing last Christmas that it was what I wanted for Christmas. It really took awhile to convince him to do this, but once he decided to do it, he was a real sport. He tried to do a good job.

I took an old turtle neck and sewed it a bit tighter, to get rid of the extra material. He wrapped some duct tape around my indentation areas, to get a closer fit. We used artists gummed paper tape, which I got at an artist supply store. I bought five rolls, but we only used three and a half.

I was so cold. As he wet each strip, it slowly soaked through the shirt. I was wet inside there the whole time, even when the tape was dry. We set up a little space heater that blew heat on me, which also helped the tape to dry, and while it helped, I was still very cold. If I were to do this again, I'd put a garbage bag over the shirt to keep me dry.

This boob shot shows how hard it was to really make a "casting." My boobs are the same size. These are not. It was harder to get the tape to stick with consistent pressure than one would think.

And yet, oddly, he diligently got every swerve here. Hmmm. I had him put little caps on my shoulders, since this is a difficult area for me to fit. I didn't worry too much about making the perfect form. Since fitting is hard for me, even a slightly distorted form will help! Besides, I'm hoping to use our new-found knowledge to make another one.

I had anticipated that it would feel very claustrophobic, but it did not. I made this with someone I trust. If I was afraid I was with someone who'd wimp out and claim to be unable to cut through the tape, I might have been nervous, but Mark's pretty strong and determined, so I was quite relaxed, but still cold.

We wanted to do five layers of tape, but after four hours, we had three layers or one layer, depending on the location. We both bailed. Mark said he didn't feel it took an unusual amount of strength to cut off of me, but he's very strong, so I'd take that with a grain of salt.

We discussed options for strengthening it from the inside, to avoid adding more distortions through additional outer layers. I was going to paper mache the inside, but when I read about bugs and mold, I decided against it. Mark recommended this product, then he went and bought it for me. By this time, he was very invested in our success!

It comes in two parts, which you mix together. It then has 12 1/2 minutes to stay a liquid. I found that precise time funny, but when I experienced it turn to a solid almost instantaneously, I realized they weren't kidding! Here's how much I could get done in 12 1/2 minutes:

The can suggests that you only mix 1/4 of the can at a time. Turns out to be good advice. I slapped the last bit on as it was hardening, so it was just the right amount. I just used a foam paint brush and applied resin to the turtle neck. The fabric soaked it up and turned the shirt into a rigid form. I love to tap on the hardened part of the turtle neck. It's as hard as a rock. I think I could do everything short of sit on it and it wouldn't distort the form.

The only hard part was creating a true representation of my form in the right size. There was no way to pull the tape tight enough to get my actual dimensions. It came out one inch bigger than me. The paper tape just didn't hold well enough. It was hard to get it to told the shape of my body, too. Hollows were particularly hard. While it will help me a lot, it will not replace me. I tend to like my clothes with plenty of wearing ease, so I'll just fit them tighter on her and I'll probably like them.

Price: $20 in tape and $15 in epoxy so far. I might buy a second can of epoxy, but I won't need it all. Next we tackle building a stand.


Summerset said...

Interesting project! No store bought dress form will ever be perfect, either. They have to be padded out if they're too small or just put up with if they're too big. The shoulder was a very important detail - glad you god that.

Sew Passionista said...

Oh This is great! You are a riot! I loved reading this! And what a great husband you have. I've seen DVD's for sale that explain how to do this. Did you have one that showed you how?I'll be checking back to see how you make a stand. I'm adding you to my list of blogs.
Hapy New Year! Diana

Lisa H. said...

You are "sew funny".I hope you will post the finished project.Your husband is a sweetie.

Cennetta said...

OMG! I've thought about making a custom dress form, but get tired thinking about the step by step process.

Anonymous said...

Keep checking to see if you have posted since Jan 1. Hope you are well, and just too busy with your new dressform to post. Hope to hear from you soon.

Sherril said...

Alana, I'm waiting to read more about your dress form and how much it is helping you in your sewing. Anything more to report?

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