A couple years ago, I convinced a friend to help me make a dressform, using the papertape instructions on this website (there are other methods here as well). I stood still for four hours while he wrapped me in tape. That is not an estimate, I timed it. Different people work at different paces, but my friend and I are both fastidious people, and in the end, it was done right, which is what matters.
1. Don’t over-dampen the paper-tape.
2. Triangles serve best for covering curves (use small triangles to shape the breasts).
3. If you have orthotics that will make a difference in your posture, wear them! My left leg is 1/2″ shorter than the right, and that makes for a big difference in the hips when I’m standing barefoot without my “correcting” heel lift.
You can see pictures of the process at the instructional link above, since I have none of my own. When we were done, we had a reasonably stiff shell that replicated my torso accurately. I taped it together and stuffed it with plastic bags, then decorated it with paper mache. But it was not sturdy, and I was disappointed, thinking I couldn’t make it into a functional tool.
I was afraid to overstuff it, as I thought I would push it out of shape, particularly the shoulder area. So I left it as it was, as a merely decorative thing in my studio, gathering dust.
Eventually, the poor thing started to sag.
I began worrying over how much it might cost to buy a dressform from the store, and put aside my dreams of being resourceful and making my own. I asked if anyone had one on freecycle, but to no avail.
The old sagging dressform was sitting idly at my dad’s house, and I was morosely obsessing over vintage dressforms on eBay (I couldn’t really justify spending the money), when M said to me, “don’t you have one already, the one that you made?” And suddenly it occured to me, that I (and my friend!) had put a lot of work into that thing, and with a little more, I might be able to make it functional.
So when we visited my folks for the holidays, I dragged it out and began the operation.
The dressform is now sturdy, and my, my mom’s, and my dad’s plastic bag drawers are empty!
I don’t know whether I really compromised the accuracy of the figure by overstuffing; but I do know that it’s strong now, and won’t sag, and when it sagged it really wasn’t accurate. If it’s a little bigger than me in some areas, I don’t anticipate it being a problem, as I don’t intend to make extremely tight-fitting clothing.
Obviously, I’m not going to want to pin into this, but even if it wasn’t decorated, I wouldn’t want to pin directly into the form, as areas might weaken over time with repeated close pinpricks. I have some stretchy material, from which I plan to make a close-fitting cover that can be pinned into.
Finally I can start learning to drape… any suggested reading for a beginner?