DIY dress forms are more of a necessity rather than a luxury if you want to stitch that perfect piece of clothing. While it can seem like a time-consuming activity if you are a first-timer, but it is totally worth your time. Dress forms certainly help you display your merchandise to showcase it in the best possible manner. They also give you and your customers a more realistic idea of how the fabric falls, the overall fitting, etc. However, well-crafted dress forms can be fairly expensive. With our do-it-yourself kit, you can make one at a fraction of the original cost. It does not require any special or unique components either. So, read on to find out the best possible way to create your very own dress form right from the comfort of your home.
A Dress Form can be created using a variety of methods. While duct-taping a form and stuffing it, is one of the most popular DIY dress form ideas, there are numerous others that you can select from. We have outlined some of the most popular ideas below.
Method 1 – Duct Tape Dress Form
Method one is easier as well as less time consuming for a DIY dress form provided you can get a model on whom you can set it up. If a friend can dress up in a long t-shirt, then all you require are the following items
- Plenty of duct tape
- Plastic wrap
- A pair of scissors
- A black pen.
Start by wrapping the duct tape in a cross-way manner beginning at the mid-thigh level. This wrapping of the duct tape will help you arrive at the basic form. Therefore, it is important to ensure that it is wrapped just rightly, neither too tight nor too loose. As you work your way upward the body, it is recommended to use smaller pieces of the tape.
As you near the neck area, make sure that you cover it with plastic wrap before putting duct tape on it. Do not put duct tape on exposed skin. Do this around the arms as well to make sure that the final shape is proper.
The next step is to repeat this process once more with the tape running from top to bottom and a third time with the tape running from side to side.
In step 4, use the black marker to outline the model’s waist. You can then begin cutting the newly made form with the help of scissors. Make sure that you only cut the tape and the T-shirt and not the model’s clothes. You just have to cut enough of this form to slide it off the model.
Once the dress form frame is off the model, stick it back using a tape such that it returns to the model’s form.
The form is now ready to be stuffed and even placed on a stand.
Method 2 – Duct Tape Fabric Dress Form
This method is fairly more complex than the previous and will require an immense amount of patience to complete. So, take it up only if you are ready to see it through. Once you have decided to go ahead, you can begin by gathering the following materials:
- Duct tape and clear tape
- Plastic wrap
- Fabric chalk
- Marker pens
- A stiff board to hold the mold in place
- Paper to make patterns
- Non-stretch fabric
- Invisible zipper
- Threads matching the fabric and the zipper as well as some contrasting threads
- Around 1 -1.5 kg of polyester stuffing
- Sewing machine
The first part of this dress form method is the same as detailed out in method 1. Stuff the duct tape mold with the polyester stuffing to make sure that it is firmly filled. It is important to cover the neck and armholes of the mold using clear tape to ensure that the stuffing does not fall out.
The next step is to place this stuffed mold on top of stiff board, like an illustration board. Once this is done, trace out the shape of the bottom of this mold onto the board. Make sure that you cut a hole in the center that is wide enough to let the stand’s pipe go through. Cut this shape out and fix it to the bottom of the mold.
The next step is to mark the dress form. One of the most accurate ways to do this is by using a bright and contrasting colored thread. Begin by creating a vertical line with this thread right in the middle of your dress form – back and front.
The next step is to start making horizontal thread lines that are straight and equidistant on the entire mold. Start this process at the bottom end of the waistline. Use the thread to cover the entire mold in such a manner that you get enough pieces that can be laid out while retaining the original shape. You can make rectangular shapes in the lower half of the mold and triangular shapes as you move to curvier portions.
Once you have completed the threading, make sure that you stick it in place using clear tape. Do not leave any piece of thread uncovered.
Mark each and every area with a unique number before cutting it out so that you know what goes where. Also, remove the base and the stuffing from the dress form before you begin cutting it. It is important to cut only one side of your pattern and keep the other marked side for referencing as required.
Now, trace the cut parts onto a paper and then onto the fabric using the fabric chalk. Make sure your mark these as well. It is important to highlight the right side so that you do not end up sewing come pieces backward. Also, make sure that you draw an outer line to ensure that you provision for sewing space while cutting.
Once all the pieces are marked on the fabric, you can cut them all down. Make sure that you are working in a sufficiently wide space where you can lay down all the cut pieces. Do not forget to create cutouts for the neck and the armholes. Once again, it is important to mark these cutouts as well as indicating the right side up. Make sure that the circumferences of these three opening pieces match the circumferences of the open areas in the duct tape cut out. Last, but not least, the base. You can use the board base to measure the fabric cut out required. Just keep space for stitching and do not forget to mark the hole for the stand.
Now that all the components of the fabric form are ready, it is time to sew all of them together. This can take some time as it is recommended to finish the sewing part in one go to minimize confusion. Using the intact part of the dress form as a guide, you can start pinning the pieces together so that you do not make any mistakes while sewing. Make sure that you sew exactly where you have marked the fabric to avoid any gaps in the final measurement. Also, instead of sewing one big piece, you can sew a few and then combine them.
Now that the 2 fabric halves are ready, it is time to sew the armholes before joining them together. Follow the same sewing technique above and join the arm pieces and the neck piece to the 2 halves. Once this is done, you can join the base and the 2 halves together. The fabric dress form cover is ready. Just one last step. Attach the invisible zip to the rear opening and you can begin stuffing the dress form once again. Make sure that the stuffing reaches all the corners ensuring that the dress form is firm and does not sag. The form is now ready to be mounted on the stand and used for creating perfect custom-made dresses.
Method 3 – Molded Papier Mache Dress Form
The 3rd model is also fairly time-consuming although it does not involve as much sewing or as much cutting as method 2. Papier Mache is essentially a French form of working with paper. A molded papier Mache dress form is certainly more accurate than most other DIY methods. You will require the following materials:
- A model or a friend
- Paper pulp insulation
- Plaster of Paris
- Wallpaper paste
- Mixing bowl
- Paper towels
- Plastic wrap
- White glue
- Wooden splints
- Tight-fitting t-shirt
Begin by preparing brown tape strips at the ready and moisten them using a sponge. You can wrap these tightly around the model wearing the t-shirt. As in the previous method, begin at the bottom or the mid-thigh level.
Cover the model in a sideways manner excluding the breast area. Also, make sure that you protect all exposed skin areas (neck or arms) with plastic wrap. Using smaller wet strips, cover the breast area in such a manner that it is molded perfectly. Repeat the covering process once more to ensure that you achieve the required thickness.
The next step is to remove or cut the plaster. Make sure that the plaster is damp and not entirely dry before your remove it. For best results cut down the side of the model carefully. Make sure that you do not harm the model in this process.
Now, mix the paper pulp insulation with the wallpaper paste in a bowl. Once the mix is ready, cover both halves of the mold with wet paper towels and start applying this mixture in a layered manner.
Once the molds are filled, you can dry them using the hairdryer. Once they are dry, it is time to stick them together using the glue. Make sure the edges are sealed properly. You can also tie the molds together using the cord to ensure that they stick properly.
When you are sure that the mold has stuck properly and is entirely dry, you can go ahead and cover it a knit type material and mount it on a stand.
Method 4 – Foam Dress Form
While a foam dress form is not the most affordable option here, it is certainly an excellent design to have. Understandably so since our bodies are more like foam and less like papier Mache molds. Therefore, if you can afford to create a foam dress form, it will improve your overall design accuracy. You will be required to gather the following supplies in order to make a foam dress form:
- A mixing bowl
- Plaster of Paris
- A model
- A t-shirt
- A pair of scissors
- Expandable foam
- Knit fabric
- Protective goggles and clothing
Once you have all the supplies in place, begin by wrapping the model using the plaster of Paris mix. You can follow a similar wrapping process as detailed out in the previous 2 methods.
Make at least 2 layers and let them dry out enough to ensure that the mold will remain in place once cut.
The next step is to cut the mold from the side ensuring that the model is not harmed in any manner. Remove the cast very carefully and rejoin on the sides. Then lay it out in a sufficiently open area.
Up until the previous step, it is a pretty standard dress form creation process. However, the next steps will require to wear protective clothing and goggles.
The next step requires working with the foam. Begin by rubbing the lubricant on the insides of the mold so that it does not stick to the foam.
Once the mold is sufficiently lubricated, you can start layering it slowly with foam making sure that the layers are even. It is also essential to remember that foam will expand while setting so layer the mold accordingly. Allow for sufficient time between each layer to ensure that the foam has expanded entirely. Once the mold is filled allow it to sit overnight.
The next step is to remove the foam from the mold once it is set. Your dress form is almost ready.
The last step is to cover it with a knit type fabric as this will help while pinning. It is recommended that mount the final product on a stand to make sure that it remains intact.
Things to Keep in Mind While Creating a DIY Dress Form
As illustrated in the above methods, creating a DIY dress form is a work of art. It is possible that you may not end up with the desired results in your first attempt. Therefore, we have compiled a list of tips that you must pay special attention to while creating any DIY dress form to achieve the best results.
- Always prepare the work area before beginning any DIY project. Make sure that you have ample space to work with and all the required components and tools as well.
- While we are not doubting your capability, it is always recommended to get a friend or someone to assist you with creating dress forms, especially if the method requires duct taping.
- It is important to ensure that the undergarments worn by the model under the t-shirt are well-fitting.
- Ideally, the length of the t-shirt should be the same as the length of the dress that you are creating and make sure that the model is standing absolutely straight during the duct taping process.
- Make sure that when you duct tape the model, you are neither too tight nor too loose. The measurements will only be accurate if you create a duct tape frame realistically.
- Since you are spending a decent amount of your time and effort on creating a dress frame from scratch, it is essential to ensure that the materials you use are of good quality.
- Always create a ‘cross your heart’ for defining the breast region when you are duct taping the model.
- All the important measurements and markings must be done using a prominent market that is highlighted in contrast to the base.
- Do not worry if your dress form does not look stylish. All it needs to do is help you sew accurately.
No one likes an ill-fitting garment. And you certainly do not want to end up with massive amounts of alterations after laboring over a dress for hours altogether. A dress form is one of the best tools to ensure that you end up with a dress as near as perfect every time you sew. The above methods of creating a DIY dress form are designed to cater to professionals as well as amateurs. Depending on your dedication to stitch, you can go ahead and try your hand at any one of these DIY dress forms. They are not only cost-effective but can also be a lot of fun to create.