Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to make your own dress form


When starting on the wonderful and exciting journey of making your own clothes or altering old ones there is one thing you will definitely need to make your job easier...that is a dress form.

There are many tutorials on the web but the best one I found is the one I am going to share with you.

The source is

http://www.burdastyle.de/trends/tipps-tricks/wie-geht-eigentlich-eine-massbueste_aid_2704.html

but the tutorial is in German so I am going to make a short presentation in English, although the pictures speak pretty much for themselves.




Here is what you will need:
  • pillow filling for stuffing out your form
  • scissors
  • metal base
  • 2-3 rolls of tape
  • cardboard
  • an old hip-length T-shirt
  • foil (for the neck)




















take on the T-shirt and wrap your neck in foil to protect it




















then take the following steps one by one in wrapping the tape. You will need a friend to do this for you, as you won't be able to do it yourself.























































































































































































































and the end result is pretty good!




















Now you have your dress form and can start working on your most exciting sewing projects!

96 comments:

  1. Brilliant, thank you!

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  2. This looks great, I will try making it in a few weeks. Where did you find the metal base, and how did you close up the bottom/attach the metal base? Thanks for posting!

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    1. A lamp pole would be a good option.

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    2. I'm pretty sure she closed it up with the cardboard that's in the list of materials, and then just cut a hole in it and put the lamp pole, or whatever you decide to use through

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    3. follow the link to see more photo's, you don't need to speak German to look at these.

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  3. Can I get a copy of her dress form? I need a body pillow that won't make me feel so lonely and unable to get a pretty girl.

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    1. Stuff like that is probably why you don't have a pretty girl, let alone any girl. Creeper.

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    2. I think he's funny as fuck and I'm sure that was the point so relax

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    3. weirdo.... i think u should really get a girl friend ....... yea..... so.......

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    4. You are soo awesome! I don't think duct tape would be comfy though :)

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    5. I thought it was funny too....and I agree you might want to wrap it in fabric LOL

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    6. Worse than a creeper is a cheaper creeper. Go buy you a blow up doll and teach her how to talk. What a freak! Knew a guy like you once and no decent female will stay with you once she uncovers your weirdness!

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    7. I kind of agree with OP. I would totally make a body pillow out of this. Comes in handy in long-distance or nonexistent relationships.

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    8. I also agree with OP. Was in a Long distance relationship for about 3 years, and this would have been nice.

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    9. Why do people feel the need to verbally disassemble a person who has made something incredible and has the heart to share it? It was made for sewing for youself! After many years of being frustrated with getting t he garment just the right fit this is a refreshing idea! Thank you for NOT keeping it to yourself! You are brave and keep on creating!

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  4. Extremely clever! I will try it on the kids form I want!

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  5. this is such a great idea thank you for sharing i know i will be doing this soon!

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  6. I love this idea, I also will try it soon! Thank you for posting.

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  7. What did you use to close off the bottom?

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  8. There is a piece of cardboard in the list of items needed. if i had to guess... that's at the bottom of the form for the base.

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  9. Im doing this to my girlfriend so I can still love her form when she is away.

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    1. ahahahhahahahahahhaah best comment ever!!!

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    2. Make sure she's awake when you do it, or else the proportions might be off. One tends to relax your shoulders while you sleep.

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  10. Be sure to wear properly fitting under garments - it will make a difference when you try to make something extremely fitted.

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  11. This is a fanstastic idea on it's own, but we COULD take it a step further. ;-) ADD A HANGER: Hang form on a good hanger, letting hook stick out the neck. Tape it into form really well. MAKE A BASE: I've not tried this so I would need to learn a little about concrete. Get a planter base(the kind to catch water), fill with concrete, leave a plop of it in center. Put plastic yogurt cup (open on both ends) around plop, push pole into center till it hits the bottom. Fill cup rest of way with concrete. Remove bowel/cup when cured completely. Use a painters pole that comes in two parts that screw together. One end sticking out of base will screw into the other end that you run through the center of your form, taping it securely to hanger. STUFFING: Jam as much pillow stuffing in there as you can and you're done. OR for a stiffer, more solid form, use spray insulation foam (http://greatstuff.dow.com/) and chicken wire balls. Note: Great Stuff spray foam starts to get slighly firm and workable in about 10-20 minutes, progressively getting more firm over a couple hours. In a few days it dries completely, you can cut it with a knife. Have proper ventilation, stay away from flame, etc while applying it. With back of form still open, work around the wire hanger and pole and spray a layer of spray insulation foam on the inside of the form right against the duck tape. Shut form so it sets completely in right shape. This ensures that all the details are locked in. Then fill it the rest of the way in, a layer at a time. Don't add a new layer until the prior layer is at least somewhat firm to the touch. Add small balls of chicken wire to cavity to give foam something to hold onto other than itself. Wait a week for foam to completely dry. You can stop there OR you can very carefully remove the duct tape, perfect the foam with a knife and more foam if needed and again completely cure. Then cover with strips of material and non hardening adhesive (check about chemical reaction of adhesive with foam), similar to the idea of paper mache.

    Potentially your form could be like a YOU shaped/sized pin cushion that you can hang, solidly attach to a base, store it on a shelf or in a large bin. And when you're away your family can gather around it, sticking pins into while chanting with the lights dimmed.
    -Becca

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    1. I used a broom turned upside down for the base under neath then sat the pole in a industrial spool of thread and placed the concrete in the cone shape and cover it with a thick piece of cardboard..Or you can buy a used candle stand that has the legs that come out of it..lol

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    2. you cant pin into a foam nicely. the fiber fill from the pillow allows the ability to pin to the form.

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  12. Whaaat?!?! This is so cool! I used to have one of those big, clunky adjustable dress forms, but somehow lost track of it in a series of moves. This is a great alternative. Thank you!

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  13. Wonderful! I've been wanting to get a dress form for AGES but it's way to expensive for me right now. So this, I just gotta try!

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  14. I did this a couple of years back with wet and stick brown tape. I have one thing to say. Make sure you stand absolutely straight! I found out I tend to stand with one shoulder lower then the other.

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  15. except that's plastic wrap and not foil...lol...was confused at first...

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  16. Regarding what to use for a stand -- I've seen recommendations to use an adjustable Christmas-tree stand. They're inexpensive (especially if you wait until after the holiday season and buy one on sale) and more easily adjustable than a lot of other DIY options.

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  17. Where can I find a metal base like the one on the picture

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  18. Excellent! Cant wait to try this!

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  19. You can drill a hole into a wood piece/log and glue the bar or painted pvc pipe for a stand. Cheap and easy if you have the drill bit.

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  20. If you want it to look better; buy a nicelooking fabric that fits the interior in your sewing Room/living Room or wherever you are going to let the dressform stand while not working wiht it. And make a fabric cover for it. If you make a thicht fit cover you can leave it on the dressform while working to.
    If you are a good tailor ppl might not even see that it's homemade.

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    1. or use one of the pretty new designed duct tapes they have now... pink zebra would be cute!

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  21. I did this about 9 years ago, and used an inexpensive hall tree for the stand. I hung the form on a sturdy wooden hanger, put the hall tree up through the center of the form and hung it from the tree. I was able to adjust it to the right height so I can even use it to mark accurate hemlines. I do find that I have to compensate for a few pounds added over the years!

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  22. I would recommend using paper tape. The Duct Tape will make your pins sticky. No big deal! Either will work great, I just really hate the residue left on by the duct tape. http://www.amazon.com/FPPT-01-Kraft-Flatback-Paper-Packaging/dp/B000QDRRN4

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  23. I've made dress forms before. For the base, I went to the hardware store and bought a large wooden round. Then to the plumbing section where I picked up a base flange, three sections of pipe, and a pipe t connector. One length of pipe screws into the base flange (which screws onto the wood round using regular screws). The t goes on top of that pipe and the two other pieces go across at the t, at about the height of your shoulders. The shoulders of my dress form rested on the two cross pieces and then I stuffed around the pole. Makes it easy to close the top too, and add a decorative knob on top of the neck. I didn't like the duct tape though. It seemed to stretch as you were wrapping it and then when I took the whole thing off and stuffed it, I measured it. It's measurements were 2 consistently 2 inches smaller than mine. I finally used paper tape, which you have to wet and then let dry. It was stiffer, but didn't shrink. I have also heard that plaster casting works very well. I can't wait to try that.

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  24. This is brilliant. I've always wanted a dress form, but they've been too pricy, and I worried about them fitting my body correctly. Thank you so much for this tutorial.

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  25. I don't know i want to be staring at the me"real me"; i think I'd rather the illusion of the me"skinny me ".... Although this would be an awesome weight loss motivation!!!!

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  26. I did this with my niece and it worked ok, but it seemed to get a little out of form while I was stuffing it. I used a disposable IV pole as a base. I'm sure not everyone has one of those just lying around, but my mom had some health problems a few years ago and needed it for IV meds at home. The base has wheels so it is really nice for moving around, and the height is adjustable which helps with hems. In highschool art class we made masks of our own faces out of plaster casting, I am really looking forward to doing that to make a dress form. I'm sure there will be a lot of sanding involved at the end, but think it would make a much more solid form.

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  27. This is a great idea for people who are losing a lot of weight, and need to alter clothing often. It's not overly expensive, so you could make a new one every 15 or 20 pounds lost.

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  28. if you cut the back in a zigzag pattern, makes it easier to line up after wards

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  29. Surely the plaster cast would be more firm, but how would you be able to pin to it? I like the idea of the spray foam, but wouldn't it make the form bulge out of shape since it's not a solid?

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    1. I've never done a DIY dress form or used spray foam, but maybe it would be possible to make the form out of plaster strips/duct tape and then spray the foam into the inside, then remove the plaster/tape? that would give you the same shape but in foam. No idea how easy it is to remove without breaking the foam though.

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    2. When I did a form with two-part foam, we used plaster bandages like they use for casts over a plastic bag worn as a shirt. It was less than perfect. It is easy to squish and deform soft body parts with the bandages. The breasts came out pretty squished. You have to cut the cast off your body (after standing motionless while the plaster cures. Note: modern bandages cure my faster and harder than the old ones). Cut up the center back, up the center front, and then see if you can wiggle out of the cast. Then you spray a release agent on the inside of the cast, put the cast back together, cover the armholes and neck hole with plastic (dry cleaner bags work), and secure with duct tape. The duct tape also works for holding the former cast, now mold together. After you have the mold assembled, you can put the two=part foam in. It will expand. You need to make sure you have it in every crevice. For the base, we used the bottom of the form as a pattern and cut a plywood base. We used plumbing fitting to attach a steel pipe to the bottom of the base and used an x made from 2x4's as the floor stand. Another fitting to attach the pipe onto the stand and casters on the bottom of the stand. After you've cleaned up the bottom of the form (post curing), remove the mold, glue it to the base. Cover the whole thing with stockinette and secure to the base with staples or make a drawstring. Sew the upper part to fit by hand. It was solid and easily moveable. The downside was that you couldn't stick a corset on it and shape it to an appropriate period shape. It was much better for modern clothing. And, of course, the shoulders weren't collapsible, so some things were hard to get on and off.

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  30. What about using a liquid starch of some type and using fabric strips instead of the tape? Would that tend to shrink up too much? Maybe mod podge?

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  31. What about using a floor lamp. You can pick one up at a thrift store. Also using plaster of paris to make it solid once the form is stuffed.

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    1. That was my thought as well. Has anyone tried it?

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  32. My mother and aunt had a business here in Vancouver BC in the 1970s making these dress forms for people.

    Here is how they did it.

    Used a cheap cotton T shirt that fit nicely on the body - so no wrinkles. They then used brown paper tape that they wet the sticky back and taped the body in a similar manner. Used surgical scissors to cut up the back and then taped it. The forms were sleeveless and had a turtleneck. After it was dry they reinforced it and made the paper tape all line up with more tape. They then placed the form on plywood and drew around the bottom and cut a shape that matched the person's actual shape - this form did not require stuffing. They made a dowel and another plywood circle for the stand and base. The funny thing is that here it is now 40 years later and one of the consignment stores in the town I live in has one of the forms they made as a store mannequin. I love it every time I walk in there. The forms were called MarVee twin dress forms -

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    1. this sounds so awesome. I have always loved to sew and be crafty. sounds like your Mother and Aunt were my kind of people.!

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  33. I love this!! Amazing idea! Thank you for sharing!!

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  34. Thank you so much for this idea! I'm creating my own belly dancing costume and desperately needed a sewing form but couldn't afford one!

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  35. I will use the paper tape, a fitted (not tight) t-shirt for a cover, one of my husbands' microphone stands and put some kind of pin cushion at the neckline. There are so many helpful comments here, this must be where the creative people meet!!

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  36. If only I hadn't just bought a dressmaker's dummy! This is such a cool idea, I might do one for my preschooler so I can make her clothes and have a reminder one day of how ikkle she was :)



    I'm just getting back into sewing and crafting and have started a blog you might like to look at (not much on it yet thought). www.frettychervil.blogspot.com

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  37. As for the stand, someone was throwing away a standing oscillating fan, but recycling a broken standing lamp could work too.

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  38. This would definitely be a lot cuter with pink and purple duct tape!! Even though that guy seems like a creep it might be a cute idea to make one for a deployed spouse ;)

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  39. I do this every so often for my growing kids bodies...I make their Halloween costumes and occasionally some clothing for them. It is easier for me to work on the dummy in my own time then to always convince them it is time for a fitting. It has been really convenient. After that, I used some as sculpture projects where I applied the paper of old patterns to the forms with wax and made wall mounts. My youngest daughter is now 3 and really likes dressing like a princess so I think we will soon dress up like a duct tape space princess soon! Then I can surprise her with a new royal wardrobe. The older two are almost 13 and almost 15 and I will help them make their own up to date ones so I can teach them to sew.

    I cut a kind of oval with subtle inward curves in the middles out of really stiff cardboard and started taping up the seam from the bottom at the back about 4 inches then splashed some plaster into the bottom to give it weight. I recycled foam sheets of packing material and ripped it in strips and packed it in taping it closed as I went. At the top I used the same strong cardboard and planted a hook from a hanger in it, but you could use wood and it would probably be more stable. For the sculpture project it was large eye screws. Since I was only making things with skirts when I wanted to work on it, I taped it to a stool. The weight assisted in stability. Once I welded a base for one out of scrap steel that had a kind of cup it could sit in but I still preferred the stool. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=191640207531736&set=pb.185428808152876.-2207520000.1359775167&type=3&theater
    That links to my schools facebook album at the image of my body form sculptures.

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    1. I love the pictures - worth a thousand words. Like the idea of setting in a stool. See that working.

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  40. If you look on the german version it shows you how to close the holes

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  41. I just made one of these! I love it, thanks for posting this! I used a lamp stand for the base and it worked great! I can't wait to start sewing with it!! :)

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  42. I love this idea, but need help. Anyone in Des Moines, Iowa, we can help each other. I had a double mastectomy in 2009 and everything I buy is WRONG! I need to sew for myself; lots of bumps and lumps and, of course, no bust. Steroids cause increased gut, so I will be an ineresting subject to work on. hahaha

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  43. Do I have to wear a bra while doing this?

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    1. yes, yes definitely! the best-fitting one you own, preferably. It will make all the difference when you're tailoring clothes to fit you.

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  44. Here is a relating demo on how to make a dress: http://youtu.be/fg--YrHM6UI (y) to diy fashion and style

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  45. Great idea! I think it would be easy to build on this tutorial and create something beautiful - either a dress mannequin or a decor piece. Thanks for sharing. http://janesapple.com

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  46. I'm planning on making one soon. Driving down the road I found a brass type hat/coat rack at the end of someones for driveway for free. Planning on cutting top off. Hope it works.

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  47. Best that I've seen. How did you get it to look so smooth ( qm)

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  48. I tried this once, and I just have something to add: Make sure you're not wrapping too tight and can still inhale and exhale while being wrapped. When being wrapped, my sister accidentally made it a bit tight and we had to stop and cut it off before finishing, because I was having trouble breathing and was feeling dizzy and lightheaded. BREATHING IS IMPORTANT GUYS, I LEARNED THAT THE HARD WAY.

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  49. My friend and I just made a mannequin of me the other day. I found that if you go to a thrift store and find a big, ugly pillow that does not have a zipper, it's more likely to be filled with shredded foam instead of batting, which I found to be much better for stuffing. I also had a 2.5 foot (rough estimate) metal pole from an old curtain rod and a 4 inch diameter plastic lid. I used the lid for the top of my neck, taped that all up, put the metal pole through a hole in the lid, and stuffed the body. I cut an oval frame out of cardboard and used that to help me trace a cardboard oval that was my shape to put on the bottom of the mannequin. I put a hole in the middle of that and put the pole through. I took an old tripod, removed the chunky part the camera attaches to (so now it's just a pole on legs), and slid the mannequin pole right over the tripod pole. I can adjust the tripod legs to whatever height I need (if I'm wearing heels or not). It's perfect. If I didn't have a tripod, my other idea was to use a music stand with the music tray removed or a microphone stand. Hope this helps!

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  50. good posting,i ve been search posting on similar wearing ideas and i found this,--- your style ideas for big human being...thx really for your effect,,,this relieved some of my effect once towarding buying some from http://www.angelweddingdress.com/,thx for your ideas ,they are highly recommended,,,and will come and visit if there are more interesting.

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  51. Earlier I got surprised how this is gonna work; but end result is quite good. One should definitely wrap the tape carefully as too tight or either loose is not going to work. Breath easy when just starting the process.

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  52. Incredible idea.... (y) . But it also required a well shaped girl/Woman otherwise it will look so weird... ;)

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  53. I used this tutorial to make a dummy, and I've put a link to this page up on my own blog, along with a bit of an explanation of how I did the base/ adjusted the dummy etc. Thanks so much for putting this up! If anyone wants to read up on how the process went, I blogged about it here! http://featherstitched.tumblr.com/post/78989820816/personalised-dress-form-mannequin

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  54. I have never seen an idea like this before! That would be so helpful when I'm making clothes for my daughters. I love finding new fabrics and imagining what cute things I can create from it. My daughters are going to be so spoiled with everything I make for them.
    Shelly Slader | http://discoverfabric.com/3m5/fabric/by-collection/blown-away-by-josephine-kimberling.html

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  55. I would probably use something sturdier than cardboard - perhaps either 1/8 or 1/4 inch plywood.

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  56. I've never seen these creativity before. It just looks too cool. I hope it will be make more fun by doing these. And these is too easy to do. Thank you for sharing a very valuable information to us. I will definitely to create for me as i'm not much creative I know it will not look as cool as you had created. I'll sure update this kind of ideas in my collection soon. Check this website www.gkfashionstore.com for more collection of womens dresses.

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  57. Really cool idea. Thak you very much for sharing.

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  58. Great idea, Easy to make ! Gracias

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