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dress forms/tailors dummies

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:14 am
by katiepoppycat
I'm thinking of investing a dress form to make it a bit easier to make my kit - apart from any else i've been using my boyfriend as one and i'm tired of my stuff fitting him better than me!

I've been looking at the funky ones that have dials to allow for changes in measurements but I was wondering if you costume types have any recommendations or tips? I'm also not sure what their bust measurement is - is it the underbust or across the biggest bit? Any help would be greatly appreciated . . . .

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:50 am
by sally
Have you thought of making a duct tape (gaffa tape) form? You end up with an exact copy of your own shape which can be very helpful for closely fitted garments

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:29 pm
by Mad Mab
sally wrote:Have you thought of making a duct tape (gaffa tape) form? You end up with an exact copy of your own shape which can be very helpful for closely fitted garments


How would you go about doing that? I don't like being touched which means I have to fit everything to myself and, even when I really concentrate on the measurements, I seem to become 2 foot taller and 300lbs heavier while measuring (resulting in a 14thC cote that fitted my 6ft, heavily built male friend. He looked lovely in it!) which is a bit of a b**ger when making corsets so an exact copy of my shape would be really useful.
I'm kind of getting the impression that this will involve wrapping duct tape round and round myself.(Fun if someone knocks on the door while you're doing it! :shock:
mab

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 1:09 pm
by sally
Its almost impossible without a helper, so if thats not comfortable for you it may not be a good option. But yes, basically you wrap tape round yourself, cut yourself out of it and stuff old carrier bags inside until it looks like you (just headless, armless etc etc)

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:15 pm
by Mad Mab
Thanks muchly for the information. Might have to grit my teeth, bite the bullet (and any other cliche you might name) and try it if it means just having to do it the once (and I will then have to maintain current weight for ever! Ah well, excuse not to diet! :D )
mab

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 3:58 pm
by Shadowcat
Here are some instructions.

http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00002_p2.asp

Please, if you can avoid it, do not buy a dummy with dials. The gaps are always just exactly where you want to put a pin. As a professional I hate them with a passion,. However, if it is all you can get, it's certainly better than a male friend, or nothing.

S.

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:21 pm
by Gwen
The duct tape form is a great idea *however* the finished form is slightly larger than you by a garment and several layers of tape. Still better than a stock form but still not ideal.

I have heard of a variation of this technique which fills the form with the expanding foam used for insulation which is usually sold at DIY centres. This variation yields a solid form which is your exact shape and has the advantage of being pinnable, unlike the duct-tape form.

To make the foam form, the formee dons a disposible long sleeved, turtle-neck shirt over the appropriate foundation garments, instead of the short sleeved shirt described in the instructions. Wrap yourself in tape over the shirt in any of the methods described. Don't stop taping at the neck, but continue taping to include your neck. Cut the shirt off following the directions.

Tape the form closed along opening where it was cut off. Tie the sleeves of the shirt closed and tack the excess collar closed. Insert a dry-cleaning bag into the bottom of the form, smoothing and spreading it to allow it to conform exactly into the inside of the form.

Sort out a circle of cardboard that is larger than the diameter of the form. If you plan to use a T shaped armature inside the form as a stand, sort this out as well. Here in the US most people use PVC irrigation pipe or wood. The pipe has the advantage of being adjustable- use a larger diameter pipe for the interior of the form and a slightly smaller diameter that will slide into the larger pipe for the stand.

Filling the form is done in 2 stages. Turn the form upside down (standing it in a bin works well) and discharge some of the foam into the neck, arm and upper chest area. Tap the form gently to make sure the foam fills the arm and neck cavities. The foam expands to 6-10 times its discharge volume, so don't use too much for the first go. Allow the foam to expand, making sure the form does not distort. One the foam is mostly expanded and set, insert the armature into the form, and discharge the rest of the foam into the form.

When the foam is expanded but not entirely set, gather the bag around the stand (if used) close it securely and turn the form upright onto the cardboard disc. If just a stub of the stand protrudes out the bottom, cut a hole in the cardboard to allow the stub to protrude, cover with the cardboard and set the cardboard on the bin. The stub of the stand will stick out into the bin, and the cardboard will give the form a nice flat bottom.

If the stand is complete with feet, leave the form upside down on the support bin, cut a hole and slit in the cardboard to allow the stand to pass through, press the form down into the bottom of the form and hold it until the foam is set.

In either case, while the foam is still malleable make sure the form is not distorted in any way and that the stand is straight inside.

Once the foam is completely set, remove the duct tape mold. Cover the form with a tight, stretchy T shirt and you're done!

Although the instructions seem complex they're really not, and the result is an amazingly wonderful dressmaking aid at very modest cost! :D

Gwen

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 8:25 pm
by Dave B
I can't help thinking that one could pass quite a fun evening making 'forms' of one's intimate freinds.

Posted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:19 pm
by chrisanson
we made one for my wife(and yes it is fun :oops: ) then i filled it with expaning foam! was a bit weird watching it expand :shock: but its quite good :D
chris

Dress Form

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:11 am
by Neibelungen
A slightly more complex way to make a dress form is to use a plaster/ latex body mould of your torso. You can either use a latex skin and then back it up with cloth reinforced plaster (basically a paper-mache with modern mnaterials)

Once dried, varnish or paint the inside to seal, wax or oil the inside, and then you can make a fibreglass form from the inside of your body mould.

I've used this method many times in making body castings (having worked for a figure company). They often will make a glassfibre mould from the original glassfibre casting as a permanent reuseable mould.

Glass fibre isn't too expensive, is quite easy to work with and pretty widely available and is very durable. You can 'glue' it together with more glass fibre and car body filler can be used to alter the shape if requred. A coating of spray paint finishes it off and you have a pretty perfect dress form.

Screw a 1-2 " thick wood plug to the bottom and you can mount the whole thing on a pole to adjust the hight and allow it to stand upright.

The same method will work with expanding foam. Try finding a glass fibre shop as they often will supply expanding foam in larger quantities a lot cheaper than DIy store.

ps. If you do a latex body cast, remember to shave off body hair and use vaseline. It's a lot like a leg wax but all happening at once.

Posted: Sat Oct 14, 2006 3:14 am
by Gwen
Ooooh look- it's Tigger!!! :D My fav.

Anyway, does anyone's shape stay consistent enough to warrant a "permanent" mould??? If there is, I want to be them!!!!

Gwen

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 10:32 am
by katiepoppycat
I don't know how to quote but I would if i could - Gwen's thing about staying the same shape to warrant a permanent mould. I think i'm going to try and have a look at some in real time as it were - then get a scheapy off ebay then if the dial types are a big pain in the ass it won't hurt like it would had i bought a new one.

thanks for the advice folks!

Posted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:22 pm
by frances
The most important thing for ladies before making a dress form is to have made the correct-shaped underwear. If you do it on your own body before putting on undies you get a good replica of yourself - but one which is useless for making any period that involves wearing a corset or uplift bra. Bodies squish to accommodate historical changes in body shape, dress forms do not.

And this is the problem with a modern dress form - boobs are in the wrong place, and often pointed.

If you are wedded to the idea of a dress form then I suggested you bash in the boobs with a hammer, then cover it with some modern stretchy knitted jersey, sewn onto the model. Then you can pin into it wherever you need to, but if your weight changes (synonym for putting on bulk) you can unpick the seam to get at the mechanisms, then just sew it up again.

I have a model of myself done in brown paper tape. It was indeed hilarious. Just do not cut it off using a graphic designers scalpel. The blades are used by surgeons to cut skin, and they are mighty efficient at doing this too. So unless you want a line of stitches around your body as well as the dress - find a super dooper pair of scissors for the job.

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:33 pm
by Tuppence
some advantages and disadvantages to help you pick!!

commercial adjustable dummy

ad- can be altered, so if you change size it's not such a big deal - easily available - and sometimes relatively cheaply secondhand (esp ebay)
disad - the pin thin s-c mentioned, can be tricky for historical clothing - as doesn't really take into account the shape of different periods (made for modern ppl)

tape dummy
ad - your (rough) size - will be made to your body shape as well as size - very cheap and easy - can be made over historical undies to get right shape
disad - can't be altered if you change size - if putting corsetry onto it to fit, they can crush under the pressure - will not be exactly your size - hard to pin

foam
ad - can be pinned - will be exactly your size and shape - plus all the others under tape dummy
disad - can't be altered

fibre glass, etc
ad - see tape dummy
disad - can't be pinned into - can be fragile - can't be altered

The other way to do it is to make a very well fitted sloper - one that fits from the neck to the hips. once it fits properly (which'll probably take several attempts), cut a version from some strong, heavy cotton or linen, and pad it heavily (making sure not to distort the shape, and of course having stitched up the neck and armholes temporarily), with something like a loose wool fleece or capoc (avoid synthetic soft toy stuffing - it's too soft).
Once it's stuffed, unpick the arm and neck holes, and push them into the right shape, and cover the gap with a couple of extra bits of the cloth, and do the same at the bottom.

mark on any important stuff, like your waistline, and your bust points, and the centre back and front, and off you go!
If you want to be able to use it with a stand, insert a piece of thick dowling or a piece of pipe into the body as you stuff, making sure to keep it central.

that's the way some french couture houses do it!! this type has roughly the same disavntages and advantages as the foam one.

if you do decide to go for a commercial one though, make sure you get an 8 piece one, rather than a four piece (it means the length is adjustable as well).


and the bustline means over bust, at the widest point

Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:48 pm
by Shadowcat
I can't buy kapok from my shops in London - EU regulations to do with not inherently fire retardant! (HA!) Anyone got a source? I'll post a separate query too.

S.

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:29 pm
by DeviantShrub
sally wrote:Have you thought of making a duct tape (gaffa tape) form? You end up with an exact copy of your own shape which can be very helpful for closely fitted garments


My Grandmother had one of those, made at home in the 1950s. My Mum (who must have been rather small at the time) can remember Gran standing unclothed in the dining room whilst Grandad wrapped her in up in tape!

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:47 pm
by m300572
can be tricky for historical clothing - as doesn't really take into account the shape of different periods (made for modern ppl)


Slightly bemused by this - surely you are making copies of historical clothing to fit modern people so historical patterns need to be altered to fit. I also assume that there was as much variation in historical people as there is today (although the relative proportions of the numbers of size ten and size 20 may have varied) and so patterns for garments are only representative of the look - a bit like modern fashion models who make the garments appear as they would on a hanger in the shop (apparently the look aimed for) but bear little resemblance in shape to the majority of the wearers of the clothes in real life.

Similarly taking a "look" from a protrait has to take into account artistic licence.

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:35 pm
by Mad Mab
m300572 wrote:
can be tricky for historical clothing - as doesn't really take into account the shape of different periods (made for modern ppl)


Slightly bemused by this - surely you are making copies of historical clothing to fit modern people so historical patterns need to be altered to fit.


I think what is meant is that different time periods have different types of
corsetry which mould the body (especially the bust) in different ways. It's not just a case of the bust being flatter, it can also be higher, separated, squished, you name it but all achievable in modern people. The modern tailor's dummy things however do not squish meaning that you cannot achieve (for example) an Elizabethan look (Conical upper body with flattened bust) on one of them while you could with the human body which makes it pretty much impossible to get the correct fit for any ensuing layers bu using the dummy.
Sorry, this all made sense to me when I started typing but now it just seems to have wandered off on its own.
Insomnia's a b**ger and no mistake.
mab

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:51 pm
by m300572
Ahaaah - it does make sense Mab.

Presumbably to get the appropriately 'squashed' bits you wold have to make up the garment on the form then adjust its dimensions in the appropriate places for the relevant historic geometry.

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:42 pm
by Shadowcat
Another option, rather than bashing in the boobs as Frances suggests, is getting a dummy one or two sizes too small, and padding it out with "kapok" (if you can get it - see thread), cotton wadding, also a dying species, or anything soft like old T-shirts. That way it will adjust to different body shapes, especially if you are making for more than one person.

I am lucky enough to have 4 different sized dummies, and still have to pad them as required. I don't get rid of the boobs, as some of my customers may want garments that don't need corsets that change the body shape.

S

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 3:51 pm
by Mad Mab
m300572 wrote:Ahaaah - it does make sense Mab.

Presumbably to get the appropriately 'squashed' bits you wold have to make up the garment on the form then adjust its dimensions in the appropriate places for the relevant historic geometry.


Honestly, use the proper terminology! It's 'SQUISHED' not 'SQUASHED' :wink:

Not being a user of forms (More of a make it up on myself, take it in by about a foot and bandage the wounds later sort of girl) I'm not really what you might call 'au fait' (I really need to sleep!) with how best to use them, however it would seem more sensible to do what Frances suggests and bash in the boobs on the form so you're working on a flat chested dummy leading to effective squishedness on yourself. (Presuming you're female that is. I've no idea what it would lead to on a male :shock: )

Have to say, could use an adapted form right at this moment since I'm trying to finish off my c17th stays and I'm having to go through my usual rigmarole of try on, tighten, try on, tighten, try on...... which is a pain in the whatsit when you're handsewing. Shame, cause I kind of wanted to use them for an c18th event we have coming up this weekend rather than the c18th stays I made up from a butterick pattern when I started out. (Strange that Butterick corsets seem to come with ease added to the pattern which kind of defeats the whole purpose I would have thought, plus the back comes up too high, the straps are too wide etc, etc.) I now have a nice period pattern and the benefit of research so my next attempt should go better but it wouldn't be ready for the weekend.
Ah well.
Apologies, going to go away now.
mab

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 4:11 pm
by m300572
Honestly, use the proper terminology! It's 'SQUISHED' not 'SQUASHED'


Sorry, I distinctly remember one of our pike complaining about being squashed as she tried to adjust her bust while wearing a back and breast - a video camera would have been handy to record the various manoueverings and offers of assistance from the male members of the block! :shock: Squashed obviously only refers to hard fabric, like plate steel, while squished is for soft kit.

I bow to your superior knowledge. :lol:

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:33 pm
by frances
The list of bodily adjustments (female) made over time is endless - two inches higher than nature intended, nipped-in waist, waist measurement not important, slim-line hips or sticky-out hips, small-looking back, etc etc.

However, there is absolutely no historic period where mid-riff bulge, hip bulge, back bra-strap bulge, over the bra bulge were in - except the period we are now in. Oh, those bulges just wobble down the high road on a Saturday .....

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:23 am
by Mad Mab
As someone who's short (5 foot and a half inch (and that's a very important half inch! :D )) but busty (or as my dad once kindly put it, 'sturdy'!), I find that, in modern clothes, I am very self concious about possible bulges and tend to wear large mens' clothes leading to me resembling a small, mobile tent. c16th, c17th & c18th styles, with their stays and love of emphasised hips, on the other hand, are fantastic. They squish ( :D ) your upper body into the correct shape and everything else is somewhere under the petticoats. Given the general trend towards bulges in these modern times, you can't help wishing that these fashions would come back in.
Whoever invented lycra should have been shot! :lol:
mab

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:23 am
by m300572
Oh, those bulges just wobble down the high road on a Saturday .....


Blackpool town centre of a Saturday night is a good place for this (if 'good' is the right word). One finds oneself looking about desperately for a good corsettiere, or failing that a whaling harpoon! :shock:

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:07 pm
by Sophia
Mab,

Know what you mean - am 5'1" and a bit. Also very sturdy - buxom is perhaps the best word as wear a 38ff/g when it comes to underpinnings. :roll:

I sympathise with the possible bulges issue - best solution is a bra that fits properly and then clothes that fit properly. :)

However, to my mind the small mobile tent can be avoided by picking clothes that suit you, things that do not fit too loosely are as bad as things which are too tight. I tried that method when younger and it didn't really work for me due to height. :D

I tend to wear tops made out of jersey that skim my figure rather than hug and longish skirts(calf length) which again skim over my hips. I tend not to emphasize my waist and would be seen dead in horizontal stripes or a large pattern/frills on my front. You will have to shop around to find things in the right size, if you want details of some good places to buy things in a range of sizes send me a pm.

I do also resort to other types of quality underpinnings such as what my grandmother called a roll-on when I want to wear more fitted modern clothes :shock:

Sophia

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:02 pm
by Mad Mab
I think most of my clothing problems (Except for the one where I have no sense of style at all! :D )come from the fact that I'm hourglass shaped and short with broad shoulders (Thank you to 15 years of work on farms and stables for that) so due to todays fashions for minimal bust and hips, anything I get, be it tops, skirts, trousers, dresses, that fits my shoulders, bust and hips gaps horrendously at the waist. Ironically enough, the only things I look half decent in are corseted tops and boned ball-dresses.......
I may as well give in and just start wearing my re-enactment kit all the time :lol:
Why is it that most modern women's clothes appear to made for boys while the average modern woman's figure is curvy? :? Strange times.
mab

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:16 pm
by m300572
Why is it that most modern women's clothes appear to made for boys while the average modern woman's figure is curvy?


There are two theories about this - one i won't repeat as its probably not politically correct, the other is that clothes are designed to look good hanging on the rail rather than on the person so they sell better - this was actually in the press recently as a reason for using stick thin models as they resemble coathangers more closely than properly woman shaped women. (with aplogies to all the skinny women out there who are trying to put on weight :shock: )

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:29 pm
by Mad Mab
m300572 wrote:
Why is it that most modern women's clothes appear to made for boys while the average modern woman's figure is curvy?


There are two theories about this - one i won't repeat as its probably not politically correct, the other is that clothes are designed to look good hanging on the rail rather than on the person so they sell better - this was actually in the press recently as a reason for using stick thin models as they resemble coathangers more closely than properly woman shaped women. (with aplogies to all the skinny women out there who are trying to put on weight :shock: )



Somewhat worrying that they appear to be making clothes for clothes hangers! :shock:
Having mentioned the existance of a non-politically correct theory, you now have to tell us what it is! You can't go round dangling little titbits in fron of people like that and leave it at that :wink:
mab

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:33 pm
by Dave B
Mad Mab wrote: You can't go round dangling little titbits in fron of people like that and leave it at that :wink:
mab


If you only have little titbits then you probably fit modern clothes though.

:lol: