Looking into the cost of buying a sewing mannequin is a little eye-watering, and even then, it may not be that near your actual body shape. A couple of posts add popped up in my Pinterest about how to make your own DIY mannequin at home. Cue 2020 lockdown and what better opportunity for a couple’s activity than to get the gaffer tape out (keep it clean, people!). I also love the idea that I can create it for free from items we already own.
So, why would you want a body form?
True they are not essential for dress-making but if you like your clothes more fitted, they can be a brilliant way to check the fit without trying it drape pattern pieces or toiles over your body and looking in the mirror! Also, if your body doesn’t conform to the “norm” (whatever that is!) – perhaps your shoulders are more square, your bust larger, bottom flatter – then you can adjust a garment to work with your wonderfully, unique shape.
1-2 rolls of gaffer tape
Old shirt, thin roll-neck (for the collar and length)
Old pillow case for the length
Stuffing – I used some left over wadding, and old pillow (so not too heavy), lots of fabric scraps! #scrapbusting!
Optional: coat hanger
Armed with a roll of gaffer tape we had left over in the garage, scissors and and Wearing some leggings and an old shirt of my husband’s, we began. TIP: wear your normal underwear so everything’s “in the usual place”!
First tape goes around, under the bust. Then start putting the tape over the bust in a ‘V’ shape up towards the shoulders, trying to be as close to the body but not squishing you down. TIP: make sure you can breathe comfortably, this could take a while….
It’s then a case of filling in the gaps. TIP: smaller sections of tape are better that one long roll round and round. The latter is likely to cause tightening around the body. My husband started doing this around the torso… gave me a wonderfully flat tummy, but this isn’t going to serve the right purpose! Plus it was really uncomfortable! So I made him make a cut up the middle to incorporate some roundness.
One you are happy will all the tape, make sure to enjoy feeling like a real-life Knight…
Before your trusty assistant, cuts you out TIP: drawn a cutting line down the back and put a few smaller horizontal lines at stages down this line. This will ensure perfect lining up of the bodice when you stick it back together. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t like to cutting out bit with the scissors so close to the skin but it doesn’t last long.
Once out, line up you marking and stick the back opening together with more tape. Cut away the excess fabric from the neck, sleeves and bottom – save these to use in the stuffing! Cut out cardboard to fit in the openings. I put a coat hanger in the top as I wanted to be able to hang it from the ceiling for storage purposes. TIP: stick in the coat hanger before you stuff and check the alignment of the body. I noticed the body tipped backwards on the hanger so I stuck the coat hanger nearer to the chest to correct this. I also used the cardboard in the top to also hold it in place.
I also knew it couldn’t be too heavy so the stuffing choice was initially difficult because I wanted to use items I already had. I had some left over wadding from a baby play-mat I made (eek, 7 years old), an old polyester cushion, then I packed all my fabric scraps around the rest.
Currently, “She” stands on a table or hooks up but I’ll look for a secondhand small topped table/stand on wheels (or find something that can be adapted, more likely). I’m really pleased with the outcome, although seeing your body is more than a little exposing! I think it will really help with fitting in my dress-making and will avoid me having to constantly try on to check the fit, or worse being too lazy to check and end up with a garment that doesn’t fit!
Hope you like idea and let me know if you try it yourself!! Happy Sewing!