After making my Bootstrap Fashion DIY stuffed dress form, I made a half scale version of myself. Pretty cute, isn’t she?
I made some alterations to the bust area to try to correct the fitting issues I had there on the full scale version. It’s better than it started out, but I went a little too far with the bust reduction, so now it’s a little too small. I stuffed the bust as firmly as I could, and it’s close to the right size, though. I didn’t make any other fitting changes to the rest of the dress form.
I draped a fitting shell on my paper tape dress form that fits me perfectly. I scanned the pattern and printed it at half scale to see how it fit on the half scale dress form. The fitting shell goes onto the half scale form OK, but it is not what I consider a good fit. The worst issues are in the shoulder area. Still, it’s close enough that I could design a new garment based on my half scale fitting shell, sew it up, put it on the miniature dress form, get an idea of how the finished garment will look, and tweak the design before making a full scale version.
Links in this post identified by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you). I was provided this pattern at no cost to me.
For the most part, the sewing directions for the full scale version of the Bootstrap Fashion dress form pattern* work for the half scale version. There are some things you can do to make sewing all of those tiny, curvy pieces easier, though.
After you print the pattern at 50%, add 1/4″ (6 mm) seam allowances.
Use thin but stable fabric to make the dress form from. I fused Pellon SF101 interfacing* to quilting cotton, and cut the pattern pieces with both the fabric and interfacing on the cross grain so the most stable direction of the fabric is going around the body. This was a good weight of fabric and interfacing to use, and it was stable enough without being too thick to sew with all of those tiny pieces.
I would suggest pressing the seams open, but not topstitching them. I made a mini pressing ham by stuffing one balled up sock into the toe of another, and I pressed using my Clover Mini Iron*. You could also skip the pressing and just finger press the seams open, but the finished dress form will look a little nicer if you press the seams open as you sew them.
The biggest change I made was to make the center support tube go only up to just above the waist. This is not necessary, but it helps the support tube stay firmly in the center and not end up tilted to one side, and it makes stuffing the dress form easier if you have a small waist. This is similar to the way I designed the center support tube in my Mini Stuffed Dress Form. I also recommend cutting the center support fabric piece from only a single layer of interfaced fabric rather than cutting two, and sewing it to both layers of front and back seam allowance (don’t topstitch the center front and center back seams, or this won’t be possible). The explanation for the pattern adjustments is rather long, so I’ll come back to this at the end of the post.
When sewing two pieces together that have different curvature, you will need to pre-clip the seam allowance of the less curvy (or inward curving) edge before you can pin and sew them together.
For the neck top and armhole cover, I highly recommend hand basting them in place first. I used two rows of hand basting on the armholes – one row on either side of the stitching line. You will need to clip into the seam allowance really close together to be able to get the pieces to fit together. Machine stitch using a zipper foot, with the neck top or armhole cover facing down on the machine bed.
The lining piece that holds the cardboard armhole support in place can just be hand sewed in place with basting stitches. There’s no need to try to wrestle it around on your sewing machine to get a row of machine stitches there.
Instead of stuffing the neck with a piece of sponge or foam cut into a cylinder, I rolled up a strip of fleece to the right size and sewed the end in place.
For the base cover, instead of cutting two of each piece, I cut one of fusible interfacing and one of plain unfused fabric. I sewed the fabric to the interfacing, with the non-fusible side of the interfacing against the right side of the fabric. Then I trimmed and clipped the seam, turned the pieces right side out, and fused the interfacing in place. This finishes the edges without adding extra bulk.
I also skipped adding the zippers on the base cover, since that would be too bulky at half scale. I hand sewed the edges together. Pulling some slack in the base cover and pinning it through the cardboard makes sewing easier.
Here are the details on the changes I made to the center support and tube.
I made a sturdy paper tube from heavy paper by wrapping it around the dowel on my stand and gluing it as I rolled the paper around the dowel. This way I had a tube exactly the right size for my stand. I also glued a circle of paperboard onto one end of the tube to prevent wear and tear on the top of the fabric pipe tube when the dress form is turned on its stand.
To combine the front and back center support pattern pieces into one piece, I placed them with the long straight stitching lines in the center 2 cm apart, aligning the bottom edges. Note that seam allowance is only added to the long curved edges of these pieces. Then I connected the curve up at the neck and connected the lines at the bottom. The original stitching lines down the middle will not be used. You can throw out the pipe sleeve pattern piece, as you will be drawing a new pattern piece for it.
Draw line A midway between the original stitching lines from the bottom to about half way between the bust and waist. Draw line B perpendicular to A.
Measure the length of line A and make a note of it. After gluing a paperboard circle onto one end of the paper tube, use a razor knife to cut the paper tube to be the length of line A plus 5 mm.
Measure the outer diameter of your paper tube. Mark half of the diameter on either side of the red line A. These are the dashed green lines shown below, and will be stitching lines. Mark additional lines 1/4″ (6 mm) out from the dashed green lines. These lines, shown as solid green below, will be the lines that you line the fabric edges on the pipe sleeve to.
Shorten line A and draw in angled lines that end at the intersection of line B (blue) and the stitching lines. The red lines indicate where you will cut the fabric. The other lines should just be marked on your fabric, although marking the stitching lines is optional.
Here is my pattern piece, cut and marked. I do not have the stitching lines marked, just the reference lines 1/4″ (6 mm) out from the stitching lines.
Cut a narrow strip of paper and wrap it around the outside of the paper tube to find the circumference. Check in several places and measure around the largest place. Make a mark on the paper to mark the circumference, then remove the paper and make another mark 2 mm past that mark. Cut the paper at the second mark, then fold it in half.
Here’s how to draw a new pipe sleeve pattern. Draw the following, where A is the original length of line A, and “WIDTH OF FOLDED PAPER” is half the tube circumference + 1 mm.
Add seam allowances of 1/4″ (6 mm) to the long sides, but not on the 4 cm section on the end. Draw in three evenly spaced 3.5 cm long lines on the end of the 4 cm section. These will be where you cut the end into a fringe. Mark notches, etc. as shown below.
Here’s what the final pattern looks like, with stitching lines shown dashed.
Cut the pipe sleeve from interfaced fabric. Sew the sides from the notches near the folded end down to the ends near the fringe, being very careful to use the correct seam allowances. Test to see if your paper tube fits. It should be snug but not super tight. The fringe pieces should align with the end of the paper tube. Take the paper tube back out.
Align one long edge of the pipe tube with a reference line (the ones I showed as solid green above). Align the notches with line B (blue line). Stitch just next to your first line of stitches (stitching closer to the cut edge so your pipe sleeve does not get smaller). Align the other pipe sleeve edge with the other reference line and stitch as you did the other side.
If you’ve done everything correctly, when you insert the paper tube, the width of the center support piece should be the same as it was originally on the pattern at the waist and hips. The top of the paper tube should be at line B, and the other end of the paper tube should extend 5 mm past the bottom edge of the center support.
Here’s the center support piece pinned to the center front and center back seam allowances, matching notches at bust, waist, and hip.
Note that the bottom edges will not line up:
When you are stuffing the dress form, stuff down to the level of the top of the pipe sleeve with the paper tube removed. Then insert the paper tube and finish stuffing the dress form as per the pattern instructions.
* Links in this post identified by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you).
I was provided this pattern at no cost to me.