Wednesday, 3 July 2013

How to make a stretchy cover for a dress-form dummy


In the comments to my last post a few of you asked for a tutorial on how I'd gone about making the cover for my dressmaker's dummy. Unfortunately, I can't explain this with illustrative photographs as my cover has draping guide lines that I sewed in place on the stand, and having spent two evenings stitching them on it's too upsetting to ever take the cover off again and attempt to reposition it again perfectly afterwards...also some of my stitches may have got caught up in the bra that she's wearing. However, it really wasn't difficult to do, so perhaps you'll settle for my explaining it? As I've never written a blog post without photos, I could choose between using pictures of cute kittens or not particularly helpful photographs of me with my mannequin. I'm saving the small furry animals for another day. And do let me know if you'd like a Nell update post...I have plenty of photos of puppies too.


To recap from the last post briefly, before making the cover, I'd padded out the bottom on my Adjustoform mannequin and stuffed a bra to replicate my own curves and my husband surveyed us side-to-side, front-to-front and back-to-back and she really is pretty much an identikit-Florence.


Back to the cover. I bought the stretchiest material available, despite the fact that it has an alarming level of shine. Mine is a glistening Lycra with a fantastic four-way stretch - the kind of thing that you could make a leotard or dance leggings from. This is better than a simple jersey as it clings to every curve and it actually goes in at the centre of the bust, rather than standing proud and creating an unattractive mono-bust. That's important. I bought half a metre and managed to make a cover for my failed mannequin and this one from it...but the fabric was very wide and I'm the same height as a twelve year old, so if you're taller you may wish to buy more. However, because it's meant to be skin-tight and this fabric can stretch so efficiently, you'll need far less than you think - I was amazed when I didn't need to return to the shop for more Lycra supplies after making a cover for the original now-at-the-recycling-centre mannequin.


I then sewed a fabric tube with a seam at each side and left the top and bottom open - you'll need to use a stretch zig-zag or an overlocker as this fabric is super-stretchy and will pop a regular seam. You could cut corners by folding the fabric on one side and just having a seam on one side of the mannequin, but there's something that I don't think will work visually about doing this and it may cause your eyes to itch whenever you look at it, so even though it's just a dressmaker's dummy for stabbing pins into, it feels proper to have a seam at each side.

The tube should be a really tight fit as you want the fabric to stay in place and not have loose wrinkles that could move around once you're actually working on it. I removed the finial from the top of my mannequin and put the tube on the mannequin wrong-way-out, with the seams showing. Using a chalk pencil, I drew on lines to mark out the shoulders and the sides of the neck and then across the top where her head stump sits. These lines should be precise - there's no need to add in any ease.


I removed the fabric tube and sewed directly on the lines I'd marked out and then trimmed away any excess material, notching the seam allowance on any sharp curves. Finally I turned it the right way out and put it on the mannequin. It was a perfect fit for very little effort - this really is an easy-peasy way to do it.


My mannequin has quite large adjustment gaps, but these are pretty much hidden (apart from at the horizontal shoulder seam where it sinks into the gap just a tiny bit more). It really does feel like a very usable, fully-stuffed mannequins as the stretch fabric is so taut across the gaps.

I hope that was informative - I'm guessing this is rather a niche post, so apologies to anyone who doesn't wish to cover a body-double in spangly Lycra...normal service will resume later in the week.

Florence x

8 comments:

  1. She's really like you... You need to put a sign on her or you might find your family talking to her ;) may I ask where you bought your fabric?

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    1. I bought it in C&H, but I think it's probably very widely available...I'd never noticed the large quantity of it that was stocked until I was actively looking for it! There's obviously some very dedicated leotard-makers out there.

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  2. I have an adjustaform that I never use for exactly this reason - and this is about the most useful post I have read for a long time! THANK YOU!

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  3. I was thinking about doing the same to my dress makers dummy, just the other day. Thanks so much for the tips I will definitely give this a go.

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    1. So nice when you read something just at the right time like that, isn't it!

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I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x