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Bootstrap custom dress form pt. 2

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If you’ve already read part 1, you’ll know how I ordered, printed, and constructed my dress form. In this post, I’ll discuss my experience stuffing, troubleshooting, and the final cost. I learned a lot during this experience, and have a much better idea about what goes into a fabric-based custom dress form.

Stuffing and finishing the Bootstrap custom dress form

Now that the shell was constructed, all that was left was to stuff and close it. I thought this was going to be quick and easy, but…I was wrong.

Foam for the neck

As I am all about reducing waste and not adding anything more to my already full fabric storage, I decided to use 3 layers of 1″ foam rather than 1 layer of 3″ foam. This was because the foam comes in 24″ width, and that way I would have considerably less foam left over while still saving money. I cut 3 neck circles out, which were about 5″ in diameter each. Then, I glued the three layers together, and it turned out exactly as I had hoped it would.

Attempt #1

Now that everything was sewed, it was time to stuff. I started shoving in stuffing as packed as I could. On my first measurement, I was getting over 2″ more than what the measurement was. I continued to the underbust and waist, and found the same thing. I figured I had overstuffed it, so I began removing stuffing. This led to a very deflated looking dressform, and not what I expected it to look like.

It was at this point I knew something was wrong. The dress form was way too big when properly stuffed. I was mostly concerned with fixing it, as I was anxious to get this thing up and running. However, I felt it would be beneficial to figure out exactly what went wrong, so I could fix it in the future if I ever want to make another one. 

My first instinct was that my seam allowance was wrong. I typically sew at 1/2″, so maybe I aligned the needle incorrectly to sew at 3/8″. I removed all the stuffing and measured my seam allowances. For the most part, they were 3/8″, although some places were more like 1/4″. It was not so off that this would be the cause of such a huge variance, so I wanted to look deeper into the issue. However, I figured I could reflect on that later, and would focus on trying to make it right. 

Making adjustments

To fix the problem, I had to figure out how much I had to change. I took the finished measurements, and subtracted the measurements I wanted. Then, I figured out which seams I wanted to alter, in order to keep it proportional.

Attempt #2

As I began stuffing again and taking measurements, things were finally coming together. This is how I expected to feel the first time around. The measurements were much closer than before, and I felt confident shoving in as much stuffing as I could. Once it came together, I was pleased enough with how it turned out. I closed it up and called it a day.

Bootstrap custom dress form
Finished dress form—front
Bootstrap custom dress form
Finished dress form—side
Finished dress form—back

Final cost

Although the video I watched said it only cost $40, I am sure that it’s because that person already had some materials on hand. I bought pretty much everything new for this, and it ended up costing me about $73:

  • $15 for the body fabric
  • $6 for inner fabric
  • $2 for foam
  • $16 for 5 lb. of fiber fill stuffing
  • $10 for interfacing
  • $24 for pattern

All of these things (besides the pattern) I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics, many of which were on sale. From a previous project, I already had a DIY dress form stand made. I used a wooden dowel and Christmas tree stand to keep it upright

What I would do differently

This was a learning experience, and I definitely made some mistakes along the way. Now that I’ve done it a couple times, there are a few things I would do differently in order to get a perfect result:

Interface the fabric before cutting the pieces

Like I mentioned in part 1, I interfaced each piece after cutting it out. This made the process so much longer, since I then had to re-trim and re-notch every single piece. If I could do it all over again, I would interface the entire thing first, then cut out the pieces.

Make sure the pieces are exact

As I was getting antsy to get this thing constructed, I started cutting some corners. I was too lazy to trim every single piece of interfacing off the sides, and left some a little wonky. Because of this, my some of my seams were a bit off, which threw off the measurements. Next time, I will make sure every piece exactly resembles the pattern pieces.

Construct the body following the instructions

I meant to follow the instructions exactly, but I misread one of the steps. When I sewed the center back pieces to the side back pieces, I assumed the center back pieces would then be sewn together to create a panel. This was incorrect, and forced me to change some instructions around to make it work. I don’t think this caused any of my measurement issues, but made the construction process a bit more complicated.

Conclusion

Overall, I am mostly satisfied with the outcome. The process wasn’t as coherent as I thought it would be, but that was my own fault. Now that I’ve done a half-size that came together perfectly, I know it wasn’t the pattern to blame. This service is extremely excellent, and I would recommend it to anyone. I plan to do this over a second time, as I know I can do better.

*Update*

After having my dress form for about 6 months, I figured I should give my updated thoughts on it. First of all, I stand by what I said about the pattern. I think it is a great service that has potential to be a helpful, inexpensive option for at-home sewists. However, mine isn’t very functional. When I made the pattern, the dress form was too big. I have lost some weight since then, which means my dress form doesn’t represent my body very well at all. This could be fixable if it were too small, but having it be too big makes it a beautiful coat rack.

Also, I am not entirely sure about the accuracy of the bust shape. It is quite prominent and round, and I’m not sure that a dress form pattern in my correct measurement would represent my body well, either. Overall, it was a great learning opportunity. However, I’m still not quite satisfied in my custom dress form pursuit.

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