DIY Dress Form Part 3 – Fabric!

Since my second muslin was good enough, it was finally time to get started on cutting out and making the actual dress form.

I thought that I would talk through some of the choices I made with the fabrics and why I decided to make them (or why I was forced to make them) for future reference.

I wanted my dress form to look like a traditional form and most of these come in natural creamy colours. I know that a lot of people who have made this pattern have gone for brighter and more fun colours and patterns, but I wanted to go for something plainer and lighter coloured so that I could easily drape on it. As my dress form will be out most of the time, I also wanted something that would go with the rest of my home decor and also wouldn’t clash with any changes I make in the future.

The pattern suggests upholstery fabrics as they’re quite stiff. I watched some videos by a youtuber called Royah, who has extensive experience with making dress forms, and she suggested Cotton Duck Canvas. I bought this Canvas from Minerva in the colour cream. I bought 1.8m of it for £17.98. I’m usually quite conservative when buying fabric, but this was enough for everything, including the inner support, to fit.

The interfacing is a pretty important part of the dress form. I bought 1.1m of this iron on woven interfacing from Minerva. I prefer woven interfacing and, whilst I’ve been moving away from fusibles recently, I decided to o with this so that I could bulk fuse it onto the fabric making it easier to cut it out. I didn’t do a very good job of ironing it on though, partially my fault but I think it was partially down to washing the fabric as well. I should have pinned things down a bit more so I could get it straight, but the fact that it didn’t stick properly was also due to the glue being washed away during the prewash.

The instructions for this pattern recommends prewashing, but Royah doesn’t as it makes the fabric softer and harder to work with. I decided to prewash as I wanted to be able to use my iron directly on the form without worrying that it would shrink in a weird way. There did end up being a few issues with prewashing though.

First, duck canvas creases easily and it doesn’t iron out very easily. In fact, I wasn’t able to get the fabric to iron out properly at all. I tried everything, including ironing the fabric wet and pressing with a lot of force. This just left some ugly marks on my fabric and didn’t help much. I also bought some crease releaser which made the fabric ‘slicker’ and smell a bit nicer but did not release the creases. I’ve just accepted that the fabric was going to be a little creased

Secondly, my interfacing shrunk. I didn’t fit all of the pieces, the neck arm and base didn’t fit. I used a 1cm allowance to get as many of the pieces in as possible. For something like this, with a lot of curves, 1cm is actually fine because it means that the curves fit together better, but it also means that I don’t have any room to play with if I want to make alterations further down the line.

I decided to fuse the interfacing with the cross grain along the selvedge of the main fabric as I thought that this would add a bit more strength and a bit less stretch across the body. I’m a little annoyed as I ended up having to use a felt tip to mark the fabric, my fine liners weren’t thick enough to mark the loose weave of the interfacing. Essentially, the thinner the marking the more accurate you can be when sewing, which means that I’ve lost a bit of accuracy with this. Hopefully it will end up okay.

It did take me a couple of evenings to draw out all of the pieces and cut them out. It’s just not a fun part of the process for me but I’m glad that I can move on a start sewing this up (finally!)

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