What with all this sewing, I decided I needed a dress form, as it’s an invaluable tool for fitting.
However, commercial dress forms don’t do a good job of mimicking your form, even if they’re adjustable. So back about a month ago, I decided to make myself one. I had had duct tape dummies before, but wasn’t satisfied with them: they tended to distort while being stuffed, and it was difficult to pin into them. So I invited a friend, Julie, over to wrap me in brown paper packing tape instead. (Here are the instructions for how to do it, courtesy of Threads Magazine.)
Here is Julie’s interpretation of Tien, in brown paper packing tape:
After she was done, I looked at the dress form. One shoulder was way higher than the other. “No WAY am I that asymmetric,” I thought. “Dang. I’ll have to do it again.”
So I invited a second guest artist to do a second interpretation. Mike was kind enough to help out. This time we cut all the paper strips into half (it was 3″ wide!) and into strips only 1″ wide for the bust, to give better definition.
Here is Mike’s dummy:
So I guess one shoulder really is significantly higher than the other. I hope I’m not suffering from scoliosis! The next time I’m by a health fair or a chiropractor I will have to get myself tested.
But it does tell me that I need to make the shoulder pads higher on one side, to balance out my figure.
Now, a view of a Singer 150 commercial dress form:
You can see at once why the commercial dress form doesn’t work as well. Only the bust, waist, hip, and back waist length measurements are adjustable. It assumes a certain distance from shoulder to bust (my bust points fall nearly 2″ lower than that) and doesn’t catch posture at all. (It also assumes that you are holding your tummy in like a swimsuit model, which I don’t.) It also has the downside of costing $215 after taxes, whereas the brown paper tape dummy costs about $5 in tape plus everlasting gratitude to a friend.
The advantage of brown paper tape over dress tape, IMO, is that it really does hold its shape without help. With duct tape I found that the form could get significantly distorted depending on how you stuffed the thing, because duct tape is more malleable. Duct tape, on the other hand, conforms to the body better, so it is easier to get small body curves. (Mike had to use very narrow strips to capture my bust correctly.)
Anyway, if you don’t already have one of these, I suggest you make one – it only takes about two hours and they’re very nifty. I can’t wait to use mine!