Monday, April 5, 2010

Dressmaker's Dummy

I had a blast at my sister's yesterday!  After our Easter dinner, my sister Lori helped me make a dress-maker's dummy for myself.  The materials included 3 rolls of duct tape (2 silver and 1 white), plus an old T-shirt.  The process involved my donning the old T-shirt and then having Lori cover my torso in several layers of duct tape.  That's the piebald finished product above.  You can see the hemline of the T-shirt at the bottom.  You can't tell in the picture, but it's like wearing a body cast.  I could barely move, and I certainly couldn't bend at the waist or raise my arms. Oh, how we laughed as we applied layer upon layer of tape while my brother-in-law just shook his head.  And hot?  My gosh, I got so hot inside my duct tape prison that we had to finish the job outdoors on my sister's cold and breezy back deck.

I found the duct tape idea on the Internet when I was pricing dressmaker's dummies and discovered they were beyond my budget.  I printed out the instructions, and then Lori taped me from my neck down to upper thigh.  It took about 2 hours, and thank goodness I had enough presence of mind to visit the bathroom before we started!  Once finished, Lori used a sturdy pair of scissors to cut the back open along the spine, from neck to butt.  I carefully pulled the form off my body and was thrilled to see that it maintained my plump little dumpling shape.  *g*

I'd been fortunate enough to find the torso of a male mannequin at Goodwill the week before, so I bought it, figuring once I made my duct tape dummy and wriggled out of it, I could place it over the store mannequin torso, tape up the back, and then pad it out with wadded up paper and plastic bags.  It worked perfectly, and I'm amazed at how sturdy my new dressmaker's dummy is!  Now, instead of having to put on a garment dozens of times as I make it, then struggling back out of it without getting stuck by pins, I can use my new dressmaker's dummy!  And all it cost me was the price of a few rolls of duct tape  and a few hours of my time.  Here's the dummy after I stuffed it with tons of plastic bags and a few old towels. 


Lori said...

That is such a good idea! And it looks like you had a great time doing it, too.

NinaP said...

Very cool!! I am going to have to try this (on myself) for my mom when she makes my next Regency gown. Can you post the link to the instructions?


News From the Holmestead said...

Yes, Lori, my sister (also named Lori!) had a blast. We laughed and laughed. It just looked so weird, and felt even weirder!

Nina, there are several Web sites with instructions. Just Google "dressmaker's dummy duct tape."

A few things to be careful of: make sure your hair is securely tied up. Those wispy little hairs at the base of your neck get stuck easily in the duct tape and it HURTS when you turn your head, not realizing some of the hairs got stuck in the tape. Rips 'em out by the roots! *g*

Another thing: go to the bathroom before you start taping, and don't drink any liquids during the taping!

Also, be diligent when taping under the arms. You need to get the tape really tight and snug way up high into the armpit, otherwise you'll end up with a thick arm on your dummy and sleeves won't fit right. I could tell Lori hadn't gotten high enough up into the armpit on my right arm, so I had her do better on the left arm. After I stuffed the dummy, I put a blouse on it, and right away I saw the problem. The left sleeve hangs naturally, but the right one is tight and it binds because the right arm of the dummy has a thicker armpit.

Anyway, Nina, if you can't find any good sites, let me know and I''ll noodle around and find the two sites I used.

Oh, one other hint: instead of a T-shirt, I would use an old turtleneck, because you'll want to tape an inch or two up the neck. This will make it easier to "dress" your dummy when you're sewing blouses and tops.


Patricia Rice said...

I love it! I'd wondered how you would hold it up. How often does one run across leftover mannequins? "G" But that's sooooo cool! When I was still making clothes, I longed for a dummy. We will not note my husband's comments on the matter.

sigh, and google just rejected my comment without telling me why. It just hates me.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant! I love it x
Carol Marinelli

News From the Holmestead said...

Pat, I suffered through my own "dummy" comments from my BIL, who could not resist some good-natured teasing. I think guys sometimes believe women are from a different planet!

Carol, I'd love to take credit for this, but the fact is, the idea of using duct tape to make a dressmaker's dummy has been around for decades. Some versions use paper tape, and another version even uses papier mache!