Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dorothy (Dot to friends), the Sewing Stunt Double

So, here she is - my paper tape dress form. She was made using instructions by Connie Amaden-Crawford on www.sewnews.com -of course, the article is no longer there but there are plenty floating around on the web these days (here's one). According to the date on the bottom of my printout, I printed these in December 2006 - so it was a 4 year project to get her to this stage (yes, I'm completely on top of things).

She got made up a few years ago and hung around on a hanger for a few months getting in the way, then sat around on my studio floor for a few years getting covered in dust and becoming more and more misshapen. A couple of years ago I managed to snag a free torso mannequin from a store ....... that's what is inside her.

She's mounted on an old lamp stand that someone was throwing away which has a dowel inserted into it that goes up through the mannequin (had to drill a hole in the neck and base of the mannequin - the mannequin base sits on the top of the lamp stand). She's a little bit tilted but it's the best we could do at the time.

I remember this take took forever to dry, actually I'm pretty sure that we ended up cutting her off me before she was completely dry - there are only so many hours that I'm willing to stand around, barely moving in what feels like wet concrete. She was already quite stiff at that point, so we needed to cut in more than one place. Thus, she has ended up looking a bit like Frankenstein's wife after I finally got around to mending those cuts a few weeks ago.

To close up those cut lines (tape would not stick):
  • cut out small tabs from the thin plastic that you buy necklaces on at the dollar store
  • put a hole in each end of the tab with a hole punch
  • make a hole in the dressform on one side of the cut line with the awl on my pocket knife
  • attach one end of the tab to the dressform using a brass fastener
  • pull the dressform together to the correct measurement (she's still a tad too big in some places though - it was harder than it sounds for me to be exact)
  • make a mark on the dressform through the other hole in the tab (make sure it's at the outside edge of the hole, otherwise the dress form will pull apart a bit after it's inserted - I realised that a bit too late)
  • make the other hole and insert the fastener
  • continue
After all of that sitting around, she's a bit misshapen so I've had to pad her out a bit in some places to try to manipulate the shape. Also, my partner didn't realise the importance of necklines, armlines, waistlines, sideseams etc. so they're either non existent or dodgy city. Try explaining to someone that doesn't make clothes why it's important that a centre line is actually parallel to the floor.

Of course, I can't pin anything to her so I've been using blutack (the cheap version) to stick stuff to her - unfortunately, it tends to rip tissue paper if you're not careful. It'd be really useful to have the proper shoulders on her too ............. taking the previous timeline of this project into account, I'd say armholes, shoulders and a pinnable covering might be a few years off.

Now that I've got Dot, tigerboy is so confused that I still have some fitting problems - I can't seem to explain to him that she will have the same fitting problems I have, it's just easier to fix on her than me, after all, I'm not a contortionist.

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