How to make mannequins to fit the clothes

The tiny bodices in the Costume Museum of Canada’s last display would not fit on the modern sized mannequins so we needed to make new ones.

Measurements were made of the larger bodice every 2 inches along the length.  Using those measurements, ovals were drawn on 2 inch thick styrofoam. Then using an electric knife, cut the ovals out.mannequins bWe labelled the pieces so they go in the right order.mannequins a

The we hot glued the pieces together.mannequins c

Once the pieces were glued together…mannequins d

…we had the general shape and size we needed.  I don’t have photos of the next steps but they are straight forward.  Using the electric knife,  the edges were smoothed out.  The styrofoam was then padded with quilt batting so the mannequin was more squishy and the edges were further smoothed out.  Using a stretchy knit, we covered the  whole mannequin and its padding. At this point we tried the bodice on before sewing the knit covering shut, just in case we needed to peel back the layers and shave more of the styrofoam off for a better fit.  When the fit was good, the knit cover was sewn shut. A hole was left in the bottom of the cover and padding so a stand post could be shoved in.

I have thought the same method could work to create a dress form.  Instead of an existing bodice for measurements you would use your own measurement.  You could probably salvage the stand and post off of an old Christmas tree.  When my dress form Trudy dies, I will try this.  Trudy may die sooner rather than later as the combo of the weight of my dresses and the burden of corsets and padding that is needed to get her close to my shape had been a strain on her adjustable joints.

 

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