Friday, November 5, 2010

The adventures of Jane. Or, how to recover a dress form.

My fingertips are very sore. Why?
1. I did more hand-sewing than I've ever done before in my whole life. And it involved a lot of finger pricking.
2. I had a fight with a hot glue gun. The hot glue gun won.

But Jane is *finally* finished!

After months of procrastination, Jane has been fully recovered. Here's the story of our friendship and how you can rescue an old dress form if you ever get the chance.

Step 1: Find a sad old dress form. A sturdy one, not a soft adjustable one (though I suppose it could work with one of those, too). She has to be at least a little smaller than you. This one was pretty much given to me. It originally came from the Manhattan garment district, but after years of use, the cover had gotten ratty, so the lady took it off. This is what was left:

Step 2: Name your dress form. This is a vital step. You are going to be spending a lot of time together and getting very up close and personal with her. She needs a name, or it could get awkward. Mine is Jane.

Step 3: Collect a bunch of scraps to stuff her with. Foam, batting, stuffing, fabric scraps, anything. I mostly used batting and stuffing.

Step 4: Find many yards of fabric to cover her with. After I made my mom some new curtains, I got to demolish her old country curtains, which are made up of yards and yards of cream cotton.

Step 5: Pad her out. Take your measurements accurately, because hers need to match yours. Put one of your old bras on her and cover her with all of your scraps, making her look like you. This is very experimental and took a long time. Do not fall for the temptation to make her look better (and smaller) than you. She won't help you fit clothes if she's not your size! You can use straight pins, safety pins, masking tape, etc. to hold the batting and stuff in place while you're working, but it mostly tends to stick to itself, which is helpful. You'll have to spend a lot of time side by side in front of a mirror, trying to keep things as accurate as possible.

Step 6: Cover her with the fabric. You have to do this in several pieces. If you're like me and have never done anything like this before, you probably should watch a bodice draping video on Youtube. It helps a lot. First I made the front bodice part, with darts for the bust. Then I attached the lower half of the front. Then I attached the top half of the back, then the bottom half, then sewed a rectangle around the neck to cover it. I made darts in the back, too, and arranged the fabric so that the curtain seams made a straight line down the middle of the front and back...see:

Step 7: Sew up the side seams by hand. I used some sort of weird stitch that might have a name that I'm unaware of. My side seams are not straight, but that's okay.

Step 8: Find someone who's not afraid to use a nail gun. Unscrew the metal part off the bottom. Pull the fabric over the edge and staple it down. Then screw the metal part back on. My dad did the majority of this part. :)

It makes a nice, smooth edge around the bottom.

Step 9: Fix the neck somehow. I started off hot gluing mine down (the hole has to stay clear for the metal rod to come through), but this is the point where I really burned my fingers. So I gave up. I'll cover it with a felt circle another day to make it all nice and finished.

Step 10: Bond with your new friend! Put clothes on her. Put jewelry on her. Use her to help with fitting and sew that new purple corduroy coat that you've been putting off for months now! Or, maybe that's just what I plan to do. Yay!

Total cost of dress form: $0- only a trade for one of my bags (about $25)

I'll be back with some more crafty pictures in a day or two. I made a new leather bound journal, and I've been working on some felt ornaments. And I'm still going strong and haven't started listening to Christmas music yet. :)

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. I got the wallet yesterday! It was so perfect, because today's my b-day! So, thanks for my gift! =) I love it so much - what talent! Well, gotta go, just wanted you to know that I got it & LOVE it!


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