Dressform

*Thanks for all the wonderful compliments on the CS Pintucked Tank.  It was a fun project. The kind of project I like to do. It had challenges. Required I do some testing and samples. The end result was a garment I want to wear, fits well and you all loved it! *

I’ve had several dress forms during my sewing career, but only the last one,  Mimie, has been a real partner.  I followed instructions received at Stitchers Guild (sorry lost the link) and padded her out  to my measurements. Once she fit perfectly, I found myself using the dress form over and over. She’s valuable for checking pattern fit — and resolving those issues; testing out ideas; adding embellishments in exactly the right place and as a general hanger. She’s my fit model who never has a bad hair day and never minds posing for pics. I have changed weight and shape twice since first fitting her. I think, I hope, I pray my weight and shape are stable now; and I’ve started the process of adjusting Mimie’s padding to resemble my own.

I chose an Otto pattern, 5/2009 #11 to make my cover.

I thought this was a basic shell with a neck line change. It has front and back vertical darts, front horizontal bust darts and back shoulder darts.  Well it’s not quite a basic shell. The shoulders are too narrow for a basic shell. The shoulder darts were moved to the back neck and the garment would be cropped to just below the waist. Most surprising to me was how far the fit was off.

I measured myself in several places and the chose to trace the size which corresponded to my measurements. So I traced a 38 across neck and shoulders, 46 bust and hip. The recommended size for my waist was 50. I know from experience I can release the front darts and the waist will fit so I traced a size 46.  I added 1/2″ seam allowances across the neck, shoulder and armscye but used 1″ seam allowances on the sides.  I added 2″ to the length and made a back-waist length adjustment of -1″.  The BWL usually brings the waist and hip shaping up to my waist and hip and then the garment will fit.

However the fit was so off, I just knew I had done something wrong. I remeasured.  Checked the sizes to trace. Checked that I’d traced the right sizes. Check the magazine for fabric recommendation (crushed polyester satin).  Then I checked the internet to be sure I knew what PES was.

This first shell was meant to be a muslin  so I started slashing and making it fit.  First thing I noticed was that the armscye was too high and tight and the bust dart was above my bust.  I added 1.5″ to the top of the shoulder which made the armscye high but comfortable, and the bust dart fall in line with instead of above my own bust.  There now was too much ease in the bust, but not enough for waist and hip.  I let out the side seam; and let it out again.  I finished with the side seams butted together from waist to hem i.e. adding a full 1 inch to the side seams or 4″ to the pattern. The bust had excess ease.  I removed a 1″ wedge from the front only between armscye and waist.  The muslin now fit smoothly but tightly.  In the end I think the magazine goofed. I think instead of crushed PES it should have read “slinky” or knit with 100% stretch; because these are the differences I expect to see when making a garment of slinky fabric.

I applied the changes to my tissue and cut a new shell.  I’m using a woven, 100% cotton fabric.  This was in the muslin box because it has a lovely glittered, Christmasy print. Why I purchased it, I’ll never understand. But it was perfect for my new cover.  I added a zipper to the back, stitched in all the darts and then chose to stuff the shell with dense batting.  We acquired this as package cushioning when replacing a major appliance. It is dense and thick. It’s about 7/8″ thick.

I stripped Mimie down to her unders and then covered her with the Fabulous Fit leotard.

–Side note:  I purchased the Fabulous Fit system December 2012.  I could never get Mimie’s curves and measurements to match my own using this system.  I think I should have purchased a larger set. But at this point I’m not willing to shell out more $$$ without knowing exactly what the problem was especially when I know the method I’m using now works and at this point have only 3 hours into the process.—

Alas, Mimie is more shapely than I.

Then I started the stuffing process.  I tried gluing the stuffing inside the shell. Which didn’t work well but got me and the cutting table sticky.  Eventually, I used the 3″ long upholstery, straight pins and pinned the stuffing from the outside.  Then it was a matter of slipping the shell over Mimie and zipping it up.

However, she looked a bit strange.

I pulled out the tape measure and was astonished to find she was bigger in the waist and hip than I and most certainly, shorter from waist to hip.  I’m puzzled. How could the shell which fit perfectly now be so different?  While I contemplate, I added an elastic waistband and a front tummy cushion which makes Mimmie’s shape more like my own.

I think the stuffing I used may itself be the problem.  For starters, it raises the shoulder nearly a full inch.

I was running out of time on this day, so I decided upon a quick test to see how badly off it was.  I took the Pintuck Tank and tried it on Mimie.

I thought the fit  looked pretty close, but to be sure, I compared with the pics taken on me.

There are some differences.  I have more tummy and bust or maybe it’s greater difference between waist sizes.

But it’s close. Mimie is much more like me than she was.

Interestingly, Mimie’s tummy and hip measure more than my own but look smaller.

I’m sure the extra padding at the shoulder is causing some of the distortion but don’t know how to remove that bit of padding without leaving a lump or line.  I still have the pads from the other other system and could add more curves but I don’t want to add more inches.  I need to think about this for a while. In the meantime,  I nearly always do a final fitting on me before nailing down the seams and Mimie is much more usable like this than she was before.

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