Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Naked Truth

I was very productive over my four day weekend (!!!) but unfortunately am now too busy to blog about it, LOL. But new projects are upcoming.

In other news, I finally finished up my second try at a paper tape dress form. I met a sewing friend at Fashion Sewing Club. She is about to go out of the country for about 6 months so we figured we'd try paper tape doubles before she left town.

Bloated FormYou may recall that Cidell and I first attempted this a year and a half ago. We got almost to the end and then we overfilled our dress forms with expandable insulation form and they exploded. Well, it would have more spectacular had they actually exploded. Really they just bloated. It looked like New Year's Day after a particularly good party, as you can see.

Before trying again, I re-read the Threads Magazine article, which is invaluable and available free on the internet. You need to start with a very fitted t-shirt (I had to make darts in the back to get swayback definition), with a good bra underneath. Be sure to tape over the bra in the back using packing tape so it doesn't get cut when you slice the dummy up the back.

The friend I did it with is also small of chest so she was sensitive to the need of differentiating between boobs and not-boobs, which was good. We took a lot of time on the whole X-wrapping of the chest and used narrower tape there. The boobs are still not super differentiated, but that has more to do with the model than the skill of the wrapper.

Violet is too big in the shoulders!My brilliant idea was just to slip my paper tape double over Violet, my vintage Acme Junior dress form, and stuff the booty and belly. So easy! Well, it turns out I have really freaking narrow shoulders and a pencil neck because Violet was just too big in the shoulders and the neck. I couldn't pull the paper tape form shut over her shoulders. So much for bright ideas! I don't understand this at all as I feel like my shoulders are wide, but that's a whole other post. So I had to go back to square one in terms of coming up with a stand.

Shoulder T I happen to have two dress forms. A friend's (now ex) boyfriend gave me his grandmother's old form from the 50s; with her C cup bullet bra breasts there's no way I could ever match her but her stand is awesome. I also have Violet. So I swept the Bullet Bra Babe off her stand and slid a length of PVC pipe over it, as you can see here. The stand is feet with a rod coming up the center so no modification was necessary. I believe sources recommend using a floor lamp to the same effect. It's great because it swivels easily. I used a T connector to add shoulders to my skeleton. I should have measured better because I had to go in and shove lengths of cardboard tubing into the pipes to fine-tune the shoulder width, but it works.

Slide bottom in place Close up your form to about the waist, checking your measurements. The form will be bigger than you because you are breathing while it's made (I hope), so your cut edges will probably need to be overlapped. Make sure the bottom edge of the dress form is even and set it up on top of a piece of foam core board, used for science projects and presentations. Trace around it, cut it out, mark the center, and a make a hole in the center for the pipe. It will look something like this. The slide the bottom over the pole and in place at the bottom of the form, and use paper tape to seal it off.

Despite the bad experience Cidell and I had with the insulation foam, it really does seem the best thing for filling a dress form, both lightweight and rigid. Fabric scraps are too heavy, packing peanuts too textured. If you have a whole load of plastic grocery bags they might be a good filler. I used Great Stuff Big Gap Filler (I have no affiliation with the company).

I think there were two issues with the problems Cidell and I had. First, I think air temperature greatly affects how much the insulation foam expands. As I recall, Cidell and I used about three cans each in our forms and it was way too much. We were filling them outside during July, so it was quite hot. I did this indoors during winter, so it was in the low 70s in my house. Four cans barely filled her up to her waist. Second, the foam continues to expand for 24 hours so patience is key. You have to let the last can fully expand before adding the next one. Because I know myself well enough to know I am too impatient for this, I actually made myself stop at the hardware store on the way home from work and buy one can each night. Hopefully you don't have to go to this extreme measure!

Once she was filled up to the waist with insulation foam, I stuffed the rest with fabric scraps, rather than risk overfilling.

The end result is useful, and much more realistic than idealized Violet with her flat stomach and no booty, as you can see here; all the photos are here.

So here it is, the naked truth. This is what I'm working with. Flat chest, belly larger than chest, swayback, rounded shoulders, small waist, and absolutely enormous booty. I like my booty in real life, but I'm seriously going to have to throw a sheet over my dress form (she needs a name!) because every time I glance over I have to say, "OMG I have a giant ass." No matter how many times I remark upon it I am still taken by surprise every time!

The Naked Truth


In other news, I was voted second place in the Reconstruction/Recycling contest for my sweater hat! I have entered many PR contests over the years and was nominated for a PR Award (Best Fashion Photography), but I've never won. It's very exciting. Thank you to all who voted for me!


Myra said...

Congrats on the award, saw that today. Do what I do to hide the realities of the dressform, leave a UFO or a wadder on it so it's "dressed"! You call that a tummy?! Try getting around mine, multiplle-childbirth stretched. I can compress it down with corset, but the damn looseness is still there! Haha!

Anonymous said...

I am desperate need for a dressform-- would you recommend a dress form padded or the tape version? The taping looks tough!

I saw your award winning hat on PR! CONGRATULATIONS!! Very creative.

Sarah said...

Your dressform looks great! I just built one out of duct tape, also following the threads instructions.

You can see it here:

And in use with my wedding-dress-muslin #3 here:

I filled mine with polyfill and it exploded 3 times before I managed to really tape it up well and go round a bunch of times with more duct tape.

BTW - I found that the form is a bit bigger than me (which is obvious I guess since it was made stuck to a t-shirt which I was wearing). But I was surprised that it's actually a noticeable difference.

Did you find that with yours?

E.g. I tried on a dress and it fit beautifully on me, but was then a bit tight on the form.

laura said...

I tried to make this same type of dress form with Hans helping me (this was before I began blogging and believe me that would have been one interesting post!). Mine ended up being about 3" bigger in the waist and when I tried stuffing it with fiber fill the whole thing ended up out of proportion. It killed me to throw it out but I had to. You've given me new hope, now if I can find a friend or I can get Hans to behave, maybe I'll try it again. Congratulations on your award! I need to check out pattern review more often.

neighbourhood.gal said...

I am cracking up. I just posted about thinking about making one of these.

Good work!

Cisa said...

Over the last few years I have repeatedly pondered doing this (although I've always heard to use duct tape). Now I think I'm going to have to do it (if for nothing else but the experience. I have a feeling I'll have the opposite ass realization (Good god! Where is it?). Thanks for the pictures! I really enjoy your blog

Little Hunting Creek said...

Congratulations on your prize! I love that hat and apparently so did everyone else. I used to have a dress form when I was a teen (when you don't need one because everything fits perfectly) but somewhere in the journey of life she and I parted ways. Now I want one and I miss my old friend. I used to dress her in party dress muslins and drape jewelry round her neck.

LaKaribane said...

Well, I want to show you my first try, Adelaide Premiere but I wish you had an email address (though I'm strangely sure we exchanged email once before but I can't find it).

Mine was duct tape but it needs structure. I read somewhere online, a Esp blog, about adding papier mache layers inside to rigidify. Do you think the paper tape is tough enough?

Will you cover it with thin batting and a jersey layer, so you can somewhat pin?

Sally said...

I took a class from Jan Bones on how to make the brown tape form. She stated the form was fairly sturdy on its own and did not need to be filled. In fact, I have found that with the one I made.

She suggested hanging your form on a hanger. Then you can hang it high or low to fit or hem, etc.

As to size, naturally it is bigger than you are. Jan suggested that, except for quite voluminous outfits, the double took into account MOST of the ease from each pattern.

And yes, the worst thing is that you finally know how big your butt is! No denial anymore!

See my post at http://thislargelife.blogspot.com/2009/02/unvarnished-truth.htm.

Sally Sews

Sue said...

Congratulations on your win!

Thanks for the post on the dress form. I have been toying with the idea of trying this so it is good to get some pointers.

Anonymous said...

You don't have a giant ass, you have an unusually small waist. At least that's what I tell myself. After all, it's only because what is above is so small that your ass looks relatively large.