I’ve made several duct tape dress forms in my day, none of which are still around. I’ve wanted to make a dress form of my body shape for some time, but nothing was promising. Once I came across Bootstrap custom dress forms, it was a done deal. In this very detailed post, I’ll talk about the experience I had with Bootstrap dress form patterns, including printing, constructing, and stuffing it.
If you want a more streamlined version of constructing the dress form, check out my post on making a half-size version.
Getting the pattern
In order to get the pattern, there were a few steps I had to take. Here is what I did, as well as what I learned:
Ordering the Bootstrap custom dress form pattern
I found a sew-along video of a Bootstrap custom dress form on Youtube, as it just happened to pop up on my feed. I watched the entire video, and was extremely impressed by the result. Once I watched a dozen more videos that gave the same positive feedback, I knew I was going to try it out for myself. I went on the Bootstrap website, put in my measurements, and purchased the pattern. Within 20 minutes, I had an email containing 3 PDF’s: one was assembly instructions, one was printing instructions, and one was the pattern pieces.
Initially, I was confused by the printing instructions. I printed ‘How-to-print-instructions.pdf’ page 2, and was so confused as to how I was going to make this square 10cm, as it was 4.6cm when I printed it. Once I realized it was the square at the end of the pattern, however, I was ready to try it.
I then attempted to print the pattern pieces through my printer’s app on my iPad. For some reason, I think this app distorts the scaling a little bit, so I originally ended up with a 10.5 cm square. However, once I printed the test page on my computer, the test square measured 10 cm. I concluded that I could in fact print it without Adobe, and the insistence that I needed that program was unnecessary.
Also, my printer leaves a 1/4” unprinted border around the page, so I thought the scale was off. This was because the pattern pieces go right up to the edge of the page on the PDF. Once I acknowledged this, however, I felt it was fine and let the pages print.
Assembling the pattern and cutting out the fabric
I chose the seam allowance option of the pattern pieces, and noticed that the seam allowance given was 3/8”. I typically sew with a 1/2” allowance, and was temped to extend it that extra 1/8” for ease of sewing. However, I figured it was fine as is, and I would probably end up trimming the seam allowance down a bit anyway.
Cutting the pieces
First, I laid out the paper with the pattern pieces, taped them together, and cut them out, as instructed. Next, I laid out the pattern pieces to see how much fabric I would need, and concluded that I would get 1 ¼ yd. of 57” width. The fabric I chose was called ‘sportswear tough cotton twill’ fabric, and I chose something that resembled my skin color. I also got ¾ yd. of ‘bottomweight canvas’ for the inner support. I ended up having just under 9” left of the main fabric, and about half the width of the inner fabric.
One instruction that confused me was about how much interfacing I needed. Like the body fabric, it said 1 ¼ yd. would be enough. It also said it should be fabric-based, and should be pre-shrunk with the body fabric in the washing machine. I was using a fusible woven sheer weight interfacing, which is only 20” wide. I ended up needing 3 ¼ yd.
Also, since I’m stubborn, I decided to interface the fabric after I cut the pattern pieces out. This only made the process longer, and all the notches became harder to see. If I were to do it again, I would definitely interface the fabric first.
Constructing the Bootstrap custom dress form
I mostly followed the instructions on the pdf, using a 2.0 stitch length and heavy duty thread in the bobbin. The only thing I did differently was sew the back and front pieces together then attach them at the sides. The instructions say to leave the back open to sew the neck piece on, but I ended up sewing the neck like the armhole piece and it was not any more difficult.
Topstitching the measurement lines
For the top stitching, I used a zigzag stitch with 3.0 width and 0.6 length. I stitched the bust, under bust, waist and hip lines along the front piece, and did the same for the back. I marked it on the wrong side, and sewed it wrong side up. This turned out really well. However, I did mark these lines after I sewed the pieces together, and it would have been easier if I had done it before. But, I honestly didn’t realize what the lines on the patterns were, so it took until after I attached the front and back pieces to figure that out.
Attaching the inner support
The part I was most confused about when attaching the pieces was the inner support. The directions were a little vague here, but after watching some Youtube videos of other people sewing theirs, I figured out how it worked. I interfaced one piece of each the front and the back, then surged the sides together (without cutting) to create uniform pieces. After that, I stitched/quilted the vertical lines, per the instructions, and attached them to the center piece; to make sure it was secure, I then top stitched the seam allowances down.
As far as ordering, printing, and constructing the dress form, I had no major issues. Most of the mistakes were because it was my first time making this, and I felt the instructions were pretty clear on what what to do and when to do it. I now know what the fabric-based interfacing is, and it would probably be a better choice in the future. Otherwise, this method went more-or-less smoothly.