Tutorial: Padding a Dress form

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Hi!

I promised some friends I would do a tutorial on padding a dress form to modify its measurements (and make it softer) , so here it is in all its glory!
This is a style of padding that is adjustable, so changing the dress form to a client’s/friend’s measurements will be simpler.

What you need:

A dress form (either adjustable or solid)

around 90 cm (1 yard) four way stretch lycra/spandex

polyester wadding

cotton/viscose wadding

pins

measurements of the body you are imitating

 

 

1. Make the cover

the first step is to make the lycra cover that will smooth out the wadding. I used a pattern I got from the seamstress I was interning for in the spring, but the pattern is not really very exact. As long as you have sort of a torso form that is slightly tight on your dress form (easiest to do by sewing up and then  fitting and adjusting on the doll) you should be fine.

 

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this is what my pattern looked like. It could’ve been made a little tighter at the waist though, but that’s not such a big problem.

 

After you’ve finished your cover and are satisfied with the fit, pull it on your dress form, and if possible, secure at the top. I did this by stuffing the extra neck fabric under the removable top of the dress form, but I’m not sure everyone has that option.

 

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2. Prepare the wadding

I like to have my wadding in strips of various sizes, but experimenting with the shapes could be interesting. Circles, ovals, and such would probably make the padding more exact. You can also fold or roll the strips. The cotton wadding I like in bigger pieces, since it’s mostly meant to smooth out the edges.

 

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3. Get to the padding

Finally, the actual padding. Roll the lycra cover all the way to the top like so.

 

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If you’re using an adjustable dress form, like me, set it to the approximate shape that you want, but leave some room for the wadding. I usually leave the dress form measurements around 5-10 cm (2-4″) short of the finished measurements. If you’re using a solid one, you might need some more wadding, depending on the size you’re going for, and the original size of your dress form.

 

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I like to begin the padding from the top, and then move downwards. So start adding some wadding (heh) to the bust area (and/or back, if it is particularly curved at the top).

 

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You can use pins, but make sure that you push the sharp ends as far as you can, so they won’t prick you when you’re working on the dress form later.

The perks of padding really come out with the bust area, I think, since here you can adjust one of the things that is always the same, even on an adjustable dress form — the apex, or bust point. Most dress forms seem to have considerable perky breasts, and since the apex is one of the key points of a good fit, this is really something you’ll want to adjust to a more realistic measurement. I do this by adding the wadding (heh) mostly under the apex of the dress form. If you want a more outlined breast form, you can always attach a bra of the correct cup size to your dress form, and stuff that with wadding, but I’ve never found this necessary.

 

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measuring the bust point

 

Measure only after you’ve pulled the cover on the area you’re working on (it may tighten the wadding a bit, thus making the measurement smaller than without the cover).

 

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checking the bust measurement

 

When you’re satisfied with the shape and measurements of the bust, move on to the waist.

With the waist you should also keep in mind the shape of the body you’re imitating (big tummy/small tummy? Sway back?) and place the wadding in accordance with that.

 

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As you can see, there is polyester wadding only on the front, since this body (mine!) has a rather pronounced sway back. The cotton wadding goes all the way around just to smooth things out and keep everything in place.

 

Next up is the hip area. Same as with the waist, think about where you want the shape to be, and pad accordingly.

 

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There might be some leftover fabric at the waist where a dart would desperately want to be, but you can just smooth that out towards the back and it should look fine.

 

Now pull the cover over your wadding, smoothing everything out as best you can. Check all your measurements and the general shape, and you’re done!

 

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Now, the shape may not be completely smooth once you’re done, unless you were very precise with your wadding, but personally I don’t think it’s that important. We all have our lumps and bumps anyway, right? ;)

 

- Sadie

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New Banner/Header!

So I made a new header for this blog. The grey one had been a bit bland to me for a long time, since the “grey phase” I had for a while has been gone for a looong time :D But now everything is new and fresh and I’m happy.

The background for the banner is a weird necklace/headband thing that I crocheted using a sort of popcorn stitch. I haven’t quite decided if I want to wear it or not, but I like the texture.

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I also considered using an embroidered flower I did on a kimono I made, but while taking photos of it I realized that I only ever teased that project, but never showed finished thing.

So here’s the kimono (been used as a dressing gown for a while now, so not really in prime-posting-condition, but…):

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I used the same tutorial as Catherine Daze, adjusted to my measurements. The fabric was less than ideal though, a bit too stretchy.

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The embroidery itself was based on something I found by googling “traditional Japanese embroidery” (seriously pretty stuff, by the way), or something along those lines. The end result was good, though in hindsight I can’t really think of why I decided to use so much time on something so everyday as a dressing gown :D But I suppose it was good practice, at least. I should do more embroidery anyway, it’s very relaxing.

- Sadie

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(Almost) Maxi Dress

Hi!

I’ve wanted to make a maxi dress for a really long time, but haven’t been able to think up/find a pattern that would suit my needs. Simple, but not plain, neat, but not too festive, relaxed, but not too hippy-ie. Sometimes I’m hard to please. But finally, sitting on the couch at home, watching whatever, I came up with this simple dress with a pleated bodice, and knew that that was the one. Luckily I also found a half linen, half cotton bedsheet from the flee market for around 2 € to make it from, so all was good. Unfortunately I was so busy before leaving for the US that I didn’t even have time to take photos of said dress. But here it is now, complete with sunny California! Yay!

front

The skirt is a simple flared thing, nothing special. It was supposed to be full-maxi but I ran out of fabric. Oops.

back

The straps are tied at the back via two small loops, so they are easy to adjust in case they start stretching.

detail

The pleated bodice is lined with a plain version of the same pattern, but some of the pleats still stretch annoyingly, so I’ll have to do some sneaky stitches in there somewhere when I’m bothered enough.

 

It’s strange to look at these sunny and summery pics when Autumn is already well on the way here in Helsinki. Even though I’m not really a summer person (possibly weird?) I almost miss the sweltering heat of the sun in San Diego when I see it in photos.

 

- Sadie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Wedding Dress

I have been a remarkably bad blogger over the summer, and I feel crappy about it, to be blunt. I hate it when bloggers disappear for months, while randomly posting apologies about not posting, and promising a change for the better. Which is exactly what I did. So sorry for that. Not blogging for so long has also made it harder to start again, but here I am!

Now for the grand reason of not posting: my friend’s wedding dress! Followed by another reason for not posting, which was a 2½ week trip to San Diego, where the wedding was held, and where said friend now lives.

The dress itself has a simple and even slightly non-formal look to it, but it’s great. And a perfect match for the bride in question. The groom seemed to like it too, and none of the guests gave me any backhanded compliments or anything, so apparently it wasn’t too controversial for the mostly american audience :D

I promised myself that I would take lots of photos of the process of making the dress, but unfortunately I failed at that, since my schedule ended up being tighter than I expected (as it always does), and I was very stressed out, because making this dress meant a lot to me, since this is the first time a friend of mine got married, not to mention moved so far away. But San Diego is a great place, and I’m sure she’ll do great there. babble babble.

Here’s what I have left of months of work: quick pics from the wedding (complete with anonymous decapitated bride), some rare photos from when things were not done yet, and some drawings.

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The wreath was supposed to go all the way around the head, so the veil could have been attached to it neatly from underneath. When it arrived on the wedding day, however, it was a little different, so I had to improvise with attaching the veil, but I think it worked out fine.

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Illusion neckline-thing. Really like this.

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Beads at the hem, each one lovingly sewn on by hand :D

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The back was very tricky to handle — getting all the layers to work with the lacing thing was hard to figure out, and it’s not perfect, but still one of my favourite parts of the dress. Especially the little button at the top.

Thoughts on this dress:

The cotton sateen I used for the non-see-through parts should have been thicker, especially with the corset part, since then it would have taken being stretched out a little better = fewer wrinkles along the waist, etc.

Having two hems that are the exact same length is annoying, since in real life they will always go their separate ways from time to time, as you can see from the pictures above.

I should have studied corset making A LOT more before starting this whole thing. It turned out ok, but again, way too thin, and with too few bones in it. I did add one pair that is not shown in the pic below after the dress was almost done, just because the back was wrinkling waaaaay too much there (might’ve been useful to adjust a bit more for a sway back too, but alas, I missed that while fitting the toile). Also, there were/are annoying wrinkles at the front seams, which I’m fairly certain now are due to the centre front piece having too much of a curve at the top. I managed to fix this problem a bit, but there’s only so much you can do to a problem that should have been fixed during the pattern drafting process.

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Cotton tulle, which I used for the see-through parts, was really easy to work with, and has a nice look to it too (I bought it here). Also, I think it really added to the overall vintage-feel of the dress. Of course, it wrinkles more than synthetic tulle, but it also has a better drape to it.

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I really enjoyed sewing the beads to the hem, bizarrely enough, though it was not a quick process. I might even do some more beading in the future, whenever a little extra formality is required.

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The layers of the dress are as follows:

The see-though part

The non-see-through part

a layer of lining the same shape as the previous part

a layer of cotton flannel (added after everything was pretty much done, to counter the fact that the fabric above it was too thin)  shaped like this:

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The corset with the petticoat attached to it:

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And finally a lining to keep the petticoat from directly touching the legs, as it is a little itchy (I used this tutorial to construct the petticoat, by the way).

That’s six layers all in all. Whew.

 

In the end, I feel nothing but positive feelings towards this dress. It looked very flattering on the bride, she liked it, I like it (despite being terribly neurotic and such), and I learned so much. So, so much. And I just feel so awesome about having had the privilege of making such a dress for such an awesome friend.

And seriously, look at them being all married and stuff:

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- Sadie

 

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Apologies

Wow, have I been a lazy blogger lately! But to be fair on myself, I haven’t been lazy at all. Who knew making a wedding dress would take so much time and effort, right? :D

But I promise there will be updates on that, as well as other things, in the very near future. There might even be a tutorial or two :)

 

- Sadie

 

 

 

 

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