Monday, September 20, 2010

How To: Padding Out Your Dress Form: Some Amateur Tips

As you all know, I have a booty-licious PGM dress form I like to call Joan, after my fav Mad Men character Joan Holloway. Because my measurements are not perfectly captured by a dress form (whose are?), I had to order a size that most closely matched my upper bust, which meant the rest of the form was smaller than me. In some places, like the hips, significantly smaller. What to do about this?

Pad that booty!

OK, seriously. Here is what I did.

I needed to sew up a cover that was like a second skin on my body. That is, exactly my measurements with NO ease. I considered ordering a sloper, but the ones I saw had darts, and I wanted a princess seamed cover. You can draft yourself a sloper if you are comfortable doing that, but I was not sure so I surfed the web for some patternmaking software. I ended up using Pattern Maker, which lets you download a free version where you can do some very simple functions, one of which is making a basic princess bodice. Score! You must take a lot of very accurate measurements of yourself and input them into the program. It spits out a pattern that you can print out and tape together. You will have to make it a bit longer in order for it to be long enough.

Choose a medium to heavy cotton that DOES NOT STRETCH. Make sure it is absolutely cut on the grain so there is no bias stretching when you stuff it. You can finish the neck and armholes with bias strips if you want.

Once you have made your cover (leave it open at the back) and ensured that it is fitted exactly to you (be careful of the underbust- I got this wrong and now Joan has smashed boobies), you are ready to stuff it. Put it on your form and using double-thread, sew up a few inches at the neck. Stuff the filling of your choice in the voids, and sew some more. I used stuffing I took out of a pillow because finding batting here was impossible. Keep sewing and stuffing, measuring each critical area like the bust, underbust, waist, etc, to make sure they are accurate.

That's all there is to it. Oh, and it took me many, many hours to do this all. So be prepared. It seems so simple, and it is not hard, just time consuming.


Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood said...

It's funny that you posted this, because I just started working on a sloper to pad out my dress form last Saturday! You are so right about it being a long process, but I think it will be well worth it to have an easier time with fittings later. Great advice about the internet pattern software, you got me curious!

Jennifer said...

Thanks for posting!

gray lance said...

My 'nearing 60' birthday present to me was a dress form. I also went with the bust as a basic start point. Still in box and x-mas my daughters and I are going to create Zoe, who will hopefully come out measuring much like me... we'll see. Your idea for a non-stretch material from a well fit sloper is great idea. I keep reading about using stretch material, but am afraid it will not hold its shape well (or lack of...) have basic fitted sloper/pattern will use. Thanks for the idea!

Silvergirl said...

I just got a PGM Pro dressform, which I found on Craigslist for a great price! Of course, I am between sizes and will have to pad it. I downloaded Princess bodice software and printed out a pattern. Hope I can now figure out how to sew it!

Big Fat Art Barn~Sherry C Hogan said...

I have just started the same project and down loaded the pattern maker which work great with one exception and you didn't mention this part but only briefly. The pattern maker automatically allow for ease in a pattern which you don't want for a sloper for your form. I don't know enough about this software yet, can it be adjusted to leave out the ease or do I have to do this in my measurements. But what parts of the pattern would I have to adjust the measurements on...just the bust,waist,and hips or would there be other measurements to change as well? Need help!!!

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