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Half-size Bootstrap custom dress form

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If you read about my experience making a Bootstrap custom dress form, you’ll know all the ways I messed it up the first time. Having that knowledge and experience, I was confident I could do it right the next go around. This time, however, I wanted a half-size. Below, I explained how I scaled the pattern, and what benefits a half-size dress form have.

Why a half-size

Half-size dress forms are popular in the garment making industry. It gives the opportunity to work on a body the same shape and proportions, just half the scale. This can make things easier to visualize, as you can see things more compactly. Also, it reduces the amount of materials needed, such as pattern paper or muslin.

How I got the half-size pattern 

I already had a Bootstrap custom dress form pattern that was designed for my specific measurements. Using the scaling on my printer, I was able to make the patterns half-sized. The way you tell if your pattern is scaled or not is by the square located on the last page of the pattern. Since it originally wants you to have a 10 cm square, my new goal was 5 cm (half the size). There were two ways I could do this.

One page method (easier)

The one page method is very easy and intuitive. If you want something half-size, you would scale it to 50%. On my computer, there is a scaling option for printing. Change the scale to 50, and print only the test page first, just to see if it works.

Two page method (saves paper)

This option involves a bit more math, but will reduce the paper wasted. My computer gives the option of printing two pages on a single page, which will of course make them smaller. However, it never claims it will make it 50% scale, so I have to figure that part out myself. Therefore, there are two steps in this method:

1. Determine the scale of the two page printing style

In order to do this, set the printer to two page printing. Print only the test square page, and measure it. In my case, the square measured 6.3 cm. 

2. Calculate what scale you need to make it 50%

Now that you know what size the square is, you have to do some math. The goal is to figure out what percentage of scaling will get you to the optimal 50%, resulting in a 5 cm square. Here is the formula to determine what scale you will need:

5 / your new sized square = what scale to print your page

In my case:

5 cm (the goal) / 6.3 cm (what I am currently at) = 79.36 (percent scaling)

This means I had to set the scaling to 79%, as my printer only does whole numbers. The result was a perfect 5 cm square, and I could proceed with printing my pattern pieces on these same settings. 

Fabric, interfacing, and materials

Going into this project, there were a few things I knew I wanted to change. Below is what I did differently from the full-size form.

Fabric

The fabric I used for the half-size dress form was not too different from the one I used for the full scale. I used a thick canvas, which was quite stiff. It gave support, but was flexible enough to be shaped well.

Interfacing

Since this was such a small project, I skipped the interfacing altogether. I figured the fabric was already stiff enough, since the size of this version wouldn’t have too much pressure from the stuffing. This worked out well.

Other materials

  • Stand—finding a stand suitable for this little dress form seemed like too much trouble, so I omitted the stand altogether.
  • Stuffing—I had a tiny bit of filling left from my large dress form, but it wasn’t enough. Luckily, I had an old pillow around, whose insides worked perfectly as stuffing.
  • Thread—last time I used heavy duty thread in the bobbin, but this time I just used regular sewing thread. It worked just fine.

Constructing the half-size dress form

This time I was determined to follow the instructions correctly, as I made a few errors last time. I find the instructions for the shell to be quite clear already, so I’ve just included some notes on things I would like to remember in the future.

Construction

This time, I actually followed the instructions properly. Just in case I end up making this a third time, I have summarized the steps:

  1. Sew center backs to side backs.
  2. Sew lower center fronts to lower side fronts. Sew side cups to center cups.
  3. Sew cups to lower front pieces. Top stitch with zig-zag across the bottom of the cup seam.
  4. Sew upper sides to upper centers. Sew to top of cups.
  5. Sew up CF line. Attach front pieces to back pieces at side seams.
  6. Trace bust, underbust, waist, and hip lines. Top stitch with zig-zag across them. 
  7. Sew shoulders.
  8. Sew neck piece.
  9. Sew up center back.
  10. Attach neck circle and armhole circles. Add casing and cardboard to armholes.

A few adjustments…

Since this was a half-size, I planned on making some changes. Here’s what I did differently to accommodate the small size.

Omitting the center pieces

I chose to omit the center support pieces, as I felt the half-size was too small to need it. Also, that part is the most challenging, and would be even more complicated with such small seam allowances. And since I didn’t plan to put this dress form on a stand, I just left it out altogether.

Altering the armholes

Since the seam allowance was so small, I didn’t want to bother making the casings for the armholes. Instead, I glued cardstock directly to the fabric and it worked out just fine. Likewise, I hand sewed the armhole covers to the bodice. It would’ve been too much hassle to try and sew it with a machine. 

Hand sewing the armhole
Cardstock in the armhole

Velcro on the bottom instead of a zipper

Velcro seemed like an easier option for the smaller size. I drafted two flaps, attached the velcro, and used that as the bottom closure.

Cost of the half-size dress form

I had leftover materials laying around, so this dress form cost me no extra money to construct. Here’s approximately how much each thing would have cost if I had to buy it new:

  • Bootstrap custom dress form pattern—$24
  • 19″ of 57″ canvas—$5
  • Stuffing—$2?
  • Velcro—$0.50

Conclusion

This turned out…drumroll please…really well! Since I already made the bigger version, I was able to iron out the details. This time around it was much easier to do. Now that it’s done and I’m pleased with the result, I am working on making mini clothes and learning new things! More on that as I do it.

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