Introduction: How to Make a Custom Dress Form

About: I'm a life-hacking reuse junkie who loves to create, even if all I'm making is a mess. I love hammers and rocks and history and hand planes. I hugged trees before it was cool but can still operate a chainsaw. …

I recently made/remade my wedding dress. I highly recommend a dress form for a project like this. I started without one and quickly learned (I'm talking 5 minutes in, quickly) that it was pretty important. A wedding gown has quite a bit going on and it's easy for non-seamstress like myself to get positively confused in an instant.

To make my dress form, I used:

  • An old broken-neck Jantzen swimsuit torso, half full of bugs and water (yard sale, $1, although they should really have paid me to take it)
  • Duct tape
  • Old shirt
  • Batting and foam
  • Plywood scraps
  • 2x4 scrap
  • Deck screws
  • Cordless drill
  • Jig saw
  • Measuring tape

Step 1: The Stand

  • Measure your height, floor to shoulder
  • Subtract the height of hard plastic torso and 1-1/2" (2x 3/4" plywood) and cut 2x4 resulting length
  • Trace the general shape of the mannequin's stump legs onto one plywood scrap, cut it out
  • Screw the plywood cut out and an additional triangular scrap piece (the base, mine was roughly 20" on a short side) onto either end of the 2x4 using deck screws
  • Screw the stand onto the mannequin

Step 2: The Form

Maybe you are the size and shape of a mannequin torso, but I am definitely not. I am several inches bigger around and longer. The bottom of her plastic tits (can I say that on here?) are where the tops of mine are.

So she got padding.

I taped foam and stuffing to the hard plastic torso until I had my general shape. I put on the shirt, measured myself every few inches and marked. I then cut down the shirt and sewed up with my machine. I put the shirt on the torso, and using more foam and stuffing, filled it. Double check measurements as you stuff.

When I was done, it was a little on the soft side. Because the shirt fabric had some give, I couldn't pack it tight... if I had it to do over, I'd probably just have sewed the shirt smaller to account for the stretch. So more tape... I think I used a whole roll of Gorilla tape on this form!

Next.... wait- that's it! It's done! That was pretty easy! It's a good thing, too, because the wedding dress you're about to make is going to be a serious task. Stay tuned for that entry into the DIY adventure logbook...

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