May One Monthly Goal Finish Link Up

How did you do this month? Did you complete your goal? Or at least move it a bit forward?

This link up will remain open until May 31 at 11:55 pm EST.

Want to see everyone's goals? Check out the May goal page.

It was pointed out to me that many of the links for OMG were not working. I'm not sure what happened--when I went to check them, many of web addresses were completely missing and some had random capital letters inserted that made them break. They should all be corrected now. Please let me know if you find things that aren't working correctly and I'll do my best to rectify them. 

Moving on, my goal this month was to make my Bootstrap Fashions custom dress form. The worst part was not the stuffing, but rather fusing interfacing to the fabric and then cutting out the pattern pieces. I used Shape Flex 101 and it really didn't stick to the upholstery fabric I'd purchased. This first picture shows me laying out the pieces and making sure they fit on the fabric. I had quite a bit more fabric, but didn't want to add interfacing to it all, so I cut just what I needed.

My fabric choice ended up being poor. The fabric wasn't as tightly woven as I thought it was and it frayed tremendously. I spent a lot of time sweeping the floor.  Imagine this photo times 100 and that's how much frayed threads were on the floor. I'm going to need to vacuum even though I swept constantly. Those little threads are turning up everywhere.

Also, like I mentioned, the interfacing didn't stick well to the fabric. Another issue is that the seams need to be pressed open and my seams didn't stay open despite using a very hot iron and steam.  It also made a mess of my iron. I stopped and used iron cleaner a few times during construction.

The sewing was actually fairly easy overall and everything went together well for the outside of the form. It is imperative that you mark all the reference lines and notches on the back of your fabric. I also labeled each piece, such as "center front", "side back", etc.

One change I'd recommend is to sew the reference lines (hips, waist, bust, underbust) once you sew the center front seam. The pattern has you do the front and back pieces separately and then you have to try to line up the stitching. I think it'd be more accurate to do it after that seam is sewn because you can then stitch one continuous line and only have to line up the center back seam. 

The instructions are fairly brief and I noticed a few steps are missing, but I had already watched many videos and read many accounts of sewing the dress form, so I knew what to do. I discovered that I didn't have a neck insert pattern piece. I had ordered my pattern with seam allowances, but the neck pattern for the filler needed to be without. I thought I'd just print another page of that pattern piece and cut the seam allowance off, but decided against that when I saw that the little circle was spread over four pages in the pattern layout. So I drew up a circle the correct size in Affinity Designer and printed it on one page. Cutting out the sponge piece was difficult. I had a 1" piece of foam, so I had to cut three and glue them together. They all ended up different sizes, so I matched them as best I could and filled in with poly stuffing.

I found inserting the arm covers to be quite difficult and had quite a few pin pricks during the process. You were supposed to be able to sew in the lining pieces after first basting and inserting the cardboard, but I ended up having to just use the basting stitches. I'm not sure if it's because my cardboard was really thick or if I did something wrong. 


The inner support pieces were a whole other thing. One, the fabric layout shows this piece just doubled on the regular fabric, like how you would cut out a regular clothing pattern. Note that the pattern piece says "fold". 

There was no possible way it would fit on my fabric since I needed 72" continuous and the fabric I had was one yard of 52" fabric. I did think about seaming the piece, but ultimately decided against it because the pipe would be pushed right against it and I was worried about straining that seam. So I sent the kids off to buy me more canvas. Guess what? The in-stock stuff JoAnn sells is very limp. I added more SF101. I messed up and the stabilizer ended up on the outside of the piece, but since it's inside the form, I decided not to rip and redo.

Two, the directions for this part are confusing. I had to search for and watch a ton of videos. Most didn't actually show this step, but I found a few that, when coupled with re-reading the instructions, helped me see what to do. It ends up like the photo below. The inner support divides the dress form down the middle so that you end up having to stuff the left and right sides of the body separately.

The bottom of the dress form with the zippers presented another challenge. I think that I should have used one layer of my outside (upholstery) fabric and the lining should have been my canvas. Instead, I cut both from the upholstery, as it says in the instructions, and it is really, really thick and was hard to cut and hard to sew through. I realized afterward that I was using the wrong side of the zipper foot too. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I guess I needed an additional challenge. 

It was really hard to figure out how to fit it into the base of the dress form. I attempted to match all the notches, but in the end I matched only the center front and back and the side seams. I tried to ease in the rest the best I could. It took a long time and I had many pin pricks and bleeding. 

Sewing the base into the rest of the dress form was also quite challenging. I broke two needles. I also broke another earlier in the process, so three total broken needles happened in this project. I also had more pin pricks and bleeding. Worst of all, I sewed almost halfway  around and removed the pins before noticing I had no bobbin thread. So I had to re-pin and try again.

It was finally time to stuff the form. I had a partially used five pound box of Poly-fil that probably had four to four and a half pounds remaining. I used all of it but didn't have enough stuffing. I thought about driving into town to get more, but remembered that some of the reviews I'd read or watched talked about using the guts of old pillows. I have lots of old pillows. I cut one open and found out that it's basically a really long sheet of poly fiber rolled up and fused or combed or something into a pillow shape. I had to cut it with scissors and try to pull it apart as best as I could. It worked, but I definitely don't recommend it because it wasn't moldable like regular poly stuffing is. 

I had a hard time getting the breasts to look right and to match my measurements. The under bust, waist, and hips were really easy to get to match. You can see in the photo below that the breast had odd shapes through the apex. I worked quite a while on making them resemble real breasts. 
I finally finished with a few hours to go before the link up opened. 
I'm not convinced that the final shape looks like me. I think my butt and gut stick out further than the form and my upper back is probably more rounded, but the measurements are pretty close and the bust is where I struggle with pattern adjustments anyway. Overall, I'm quite pleased with the finished product and I'm looking forward to trying some pattern draping soon. 
I would recommend this project if you're looking for a relatively inexpensive custom dress form. I had to buy the pattern ($28) and the upholstery fabric (can't remember, maybe $40ish?, but I have a lot of extra), plus the extra canvas ($10). I also bought an IV stand from the surplus store (can't remember, less than $20). I had the fiberfill, pipe, cardboard, foam, SF101, and zippers (marked $.50 each) already. 

I also purchased the arm patterns ($14), but I'm gonna need to recover from this one before I try those! 

I do have to say that I am totally choosing something easy for next month's link up. 😄 I don't know what yet, but definitely easy. And quilt-related. 

So now it's your turn. Add your link to show your finish, visit other linkers, and make new friends.

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Click here to enter

1 comment

  1. Congrats on getting that dress form done! That was a lot of hard work. And thanks for doing such a great job sharing your experience in making it. I still have a dress form on my bucket list but am not sure what direction to go in when I finally decide to bite the bullet and get one. Your blog has added an option to my list that is definitely more budget friendly.