DIY Dress Form Arm

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.

I made an arm for my DIY dress form using Bootstrap Fashion’s dress form arm pattern*. The cool thing about this dress form arm is that it is made to your measurements, and it actually looks like an arm! In the past, before this pattern came out, I had looked for dress form arm patterns and the only commercial pattern I found was Connie Crawford’s dress form arm pattern, which only comes in three sizes and is obviously drafted from a sleeve pattern. There are also several tutorials online and in Threads magazine that show how to draft a dress form arm pattern from a sleeve pattern, but again, you end up with something that doesn’t look very realistic.

This dress form arm should fit on any dress form that has a flat armhole plate and has shoulders ending at the natural shoulder point. It pins in place, but you could also sew ribbons onto it and tie it in place around the opposite armhole and around the neck if your dress form is not pinnable.

I am happy with my final dress form arm, but it took me a couple of tries to get it the right size. The pattern has some negative ease in it to allow for the fabric stretching as the arm is stuffed. On the first arm I sewed, the bicep measurement was too small, no matter how firmly I stuffed it. The elbow measurement was perfect, though, so I measured and found that at the elbow, the pattern measured 94% of my actual elbow measurement. I adjusted the bicep area of the pattern to be 94% of my actual bicep measurement, and on my second arm the bicep measurement was correct.

The amount of negative ease you need is going to vary a little depending on the fabric you use and how firmly you stuff the arm. The instructions for this pattern say to stuff the arm firmly, but another option is to make a lightly stuffed floppy arm so you can bend it to make dressing your dress form easier. If you want to stuff the arm less firmly, or you just want to make sure it ends up exactly the right size, you will need to adjust the pattern.

To avoid having to sew two arms to figure out if you need to adjust your pattern, you could sew a bicep-sized cylinder from the same fabric you will use for the arm. Sew one end closed, stuff the cylinder, then measure around it. Divide the pre-stuffed circumference measurement of the cylinder by the circumference after stuffing it to get your negative ease factor. Multiply your bicep measurement by the negative ease factor to get the total measurement that the pattern should be at the bicep. Multiply your elbow measurement by the negative ease factor to get the total measurement that the pattern should be at the elbow. Compare these numbers to the pattern measurements. There are two vertical seams on the arm, so divide the total amount you need to change the pattern by four to get the amount you need to add or subtract from each edge. Make pattern adjustments at the seam lines, blending to no change at the armhole area.

This pattern does not give you the option to input your arm length measurements when your pattern is created, so you will have to adjust the shoulder-to-elbow and elbow-to-wrist lengths manually. These are just basic length adjustments like you would make on any sewing pattern, so they are not difficult adjustments, but you do need to be careful to measure your arm correctly.

Here’s how to measure your arm length. To locate your shoulder point, raise and lower your arm slightly and feel for the dent between the bones of your body and those of the arm. Place your finger on your shoulder point and raise and lower your arm again. Your finger should stay stationary if it is in the right spot, not move with the arm. Mark this location.

If you are measuring yourself, tape the end of your tape measure to your shoulder point. Measure from your shoulder point to the point of your elbow and record this measurement. Then, with your arm slightly bent and the tape still going over the elbow point, continue measuring down to the prominent bone on the wrist.

I decided that rather than stuff the arm with fiber fill, I would experiment with stuffing it with polystyrene beads* that are used to stuff bean bag chairs. These beads weigh almost nothing, and they allow you to stuff the arm fairly firmly, but still pat it to adjust its shape a little. Polyester fiber fill will fill out the arm into a cylindrical shape, but with the polystyrene beads the arm can have a more natural somewhat flattened/oval cross section. Also, they weigh less than fiber fill, which makes it easier to pin the arm to the dress form. The beads do show through the fabric a little, though – it looks like my arm has goose bumps.

I added a bag with three tablespoons of sand in it to the wrist. I thought this might help the arm hang better. It does hang down just fine, but I don’t know if the sand was necessary. Then I packed polystyrene beads into most of the arm. I finished stuffing the shoulder area with polyester fiber fill. I like how stuffing the arm with the bean bag beads worked out. I would especially recommend using them as stuffing for larger sized arms, so your arm doesn’t end up too heavy to pin to your dress form.

I’m quite happy with this dress form arm* – it really looks like my arm!

* 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.

Posted in Sewing

Bootstrap Fashion DIY Dress Form

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.

Bootstrap Fashion sewing patterns has a pattern for a made-to-measure DIY dress form that you sew and stuff. They have a missy version* and a curvy version* of the pattern. If you are not familiar with Bootstrap Fashion patterns, you put in your measurements on their website and they generate patterns made to fit you, which you receive in just a few minutes.

Last year I noticed that someone from Bootstrap Fashion had purchased my Mini Stuffed Dress Form Pattern, and I wondered what they were going to use it for. Then a few months later I saw Dawn’s blog post about her Bootstrap Fashion dress form, and I thought, wow that looks really similar to my mini dress form. I went to Bootstrap’s web site, downloaded the pattern instructions for their DIY dress form, and noticed that there are many similarities to my mini dress form in the inner structure and assembly process. Aha, so that’s what they were doing with my pattern – using it as inspiration and research for their pattern.

I’ve had a few people ask me about altering my Mini Stuffed Dress Form pattern to match their measurements, which really isn’t easy to do, unless you are only making minor alterations. I thought the Bootstrap Fashion dress form might be a good pattern to refer these people to, but I wanted to try it first. I also wanted to make it because I thought it would be handy to have a soft, pinnable custom dress form that wouldn’t be ruined by steam or a little moisture, so I could use it to steam garments on or hang damp garments on to dry. My other custom dress form is a paper tape form, which would be damaged by moisture.

I’ve made a full scale version of the Bootstrap dress form, a half scale version, and the arm for the dress form. For the half scale version I made some changes to the pattern to make it easier to sew on a small scale, so that will get its own blog post. A post on sewing the arm is also coming up.

This post is about the full scale dress form, but here’s a sneak peek of the arm and half scale form:

Before I cut out any fabric, I decided to check the front and back profile against my actual body shape. I traced the shapes onto cardboard, cut them out, and held them up to my body. The front, while it didn’t match my every curve, was overall about right, so I left it alone. When I checked the back, I saw I needed to make some changes. Most of the problem was because I should have marked my waist at a higher location, located by tying a string around my waist. I’d recently taken my measurements for a pattern making system that puts your waist a little lower, so I didn’t think about that when I input my measurements for the dress form. I changed the center profile support pattern piece to match my shape, and it still all sewed together fine. I was actually surprised at how close the profile shapes were to my shape. The “bum protuberance” is about right.

The other change I made was to flatten the tummy. After comparing their pictures to my profile shape when I put in my measurements, I picked the smallest tummy shape that wasn’t flat, but after printing the pattern pieces I noticed that they did not look right. I realized that my tummy would naturally almost be flat, but sticks out into a rounded shape due to my swayback, and their pattern pieces were going to give the dress form a tummy further down below my waist, which I don’t have. I just straightened out the front princess lines between the waist and hip, and this gave me something closer to my actual shape.

After I sewed up the form, I noticed that my hip level was a little too low, so I’d suggest checking the vertical position of your waist and hips against the pattern and altering it if needed.

The scary thing about making this dress form is that you can’t just make a quick muslin and try it on. The dress form has negative ease and it changes shape as you stuff it, so even if you added extra ease to the side seams, I don’t think it would work to try it on your body.

The dress form is sewn from interfaced stable fabric. I wanted to use some linen fabric for the dress form, which is not very stable and stretches out, so I both interfaced the linen and underlined it with some stable home dec fabric. This made for some pretty thick layers, but my Singer 201 treadle sewing machine handled it just fine. This is something to think about, though, if you are sewing the dress form on a typical modern home sewing machine – choose fabric and interfacing that are very stable, but not too thick. You might also consider cutting the pattern on the cross grain so that the more stable direction of the fabric is going around the body.

Fusing interfacing on all that fabric took so long. Thankfully I used Pellon SF101 interfacing*, which fuses relatively quickly and easily compared to other woven interfacing I’ve used in the past. Finally I got smart and downloaded an interval timer app so I could set my phone to ding every ten seconds and I’d know when to move my iron. Every time I fuse interfacing I wish I had a steam press. I’ve had my eye on this small steam press*, but so far it hasn’t made it to the top of my sewing wish list (there are always a lot of things on that wish list!). At least I have an old iron without auto-shutoff to use for fusing interfacing.

Here are the cardboard support pieces and fabric pieces, all fused, cut, and ready to sew.

As I was sewing the dress form, I found Wonder Clips* worked well to hold the pieces together, since they were too thick for pins. I sewed the dress form together with upholstery thread for extra strength, since I did not topstitch over the seams with a zig-zag stitch as is suggested in the instructions.

Here’s the dress form wrong side out, mostly sewn together:

After that the center profile support piece is sewn on.

Then the bottom cover gets sewn on. I think the instructions have you sew on the bottom cover after turning the dress form right side out, but I sewed it on first, which works too. A note about the bottom cover – the pattern pieces are labeled “cut 2” but even on my vintage sewing machine it would have been too many layers of fabric to sew at the ends of the zippers if I did that. I cut the inner lining for the bottom cover from some thin fabric instead of the same fabric I used for the rest of the dress form, and that worked better.

The zippers are a nice touch – no hand sewing needed to close up the dress form!


The neck is stuffed with a sponge/foam piece, and then the dress form gets turned right side out. It kind of looked like it was giving birth to itself.

I actually stuffed this dress form three times. The first time, I stuffed the bust just firmly enough to keep it filled out, but it was still 2 cm (3/4″) to large. I thought it might be OK, but after trying my clothes on the dress form, I decided that it wasn’t going to work. The bust was also up too high, and the back neck to bust point measurement was 1 cm shorter than the number I had put in (I print-screened the page where I put in my measurements, so I’m sure I put it in right).

For the second try, I stuffed the bust just enough to match my measurements, which left the bust wrinkly, but still up too high. It looked awful, and the wrinkles showed through clothes. I also noticed that the shoulders sloped too much, and I wondered if that was because I had stuffed the shoulder area so firmly.

I decided to try to alter the bust. I clipped out the extra fabric to see how much fabric I needed to take out. Then out came all the stuffing. Again.

I unpicked the underbust seams, trimmed off 2 cm (3/4″) from the lower bust seams, and re-stitched them.

The third time, I thought I would try stuffing the form mostly with old T-shirts supplemented with polyester fiber fill around the edges instead of just fiber fill. My thought was that the fabric stuffing would not exert as much pressure on the dress form, and might not stretch out the fabric as much and pull the shoulders down so much. It worked OK, though my dress form is a now a bit lumpy, the shoulders still slope too much, and it’s pretty heavy.

If I was to stuff it again (nope, not gonna do that!), I’d probably just use fiber fill. Adding old clothes or fabric scraps is a good way to save on using so much stuffing, though. Just keep the fabric scraps in the center so lumps won’t show. Inserting chunks of Styrofoam or something similar into the center would also work to reduce the amount of fiber fill needed, and would be especially useful for a larger size form.

The dress form now matches my measurements pretty closely. The altered bust is a bit droopy looking, but I’ll take that over being too large or having awful wrinkles. It’s still a little too high and the bust points are too close together now, which I couldn’t fix.

Here’s how this dress form compares to my actual body shape. The tan custom made dress form matches my size and shape almost exactly. The bust, waist and hip measurements are the same on both forms, but you can see that the shape is different. The tan dress form’s shoulders extend out a little past my actual shoulder points, which is part of the reason they are so much wider.


Since the shoulders are too sloped, I pinned some shoulder pads onto the form to get it to match my shoulder slope. The shoulder pads also allowed me to give the dress form forward shoulders like I have.

The dress form will work for me for the uses I have planned for it (steaming garments, primarily). It’s about my size, but it doesn’t match my body shape exactly. If I didn’t have my other custom dress form, I think I could use this form for initial fittings, but I would still need to make final alterations on my body.

When I started this project, I really wasn’t expecting the bust to come out perfectly, but I sewed it as-is for testing purposes. The bust is a really complicated shape of the body to try to reproduce the shape of, it varies in shape from person to person, and the shape changes as you stuff the dress form. If I was making this as my only dress form, I would have made the bust smaller than mine and then put a stuffed bra on the form to give me more control over the size, location, and shape of the bust.

If you want to use this dress form for fitting and your bust is larger than a B-cup, I suggest substituting your underbust measurement plus 6 inches (15 cm) for your actual bust measurement when you put in your measurements. This way your dress form will have a bust smaller than yours so you can put a bra on the dress form and stuff it, allowing you more control over the location, size, and shape of the bust.

I experimented with inputting an even smaller bust measurement to try to make a completely flat chest, but judging by the pattern preview, this distorted the body shape and did not result in a flat chest. So if you are a B-cup or smaller and want to reduce the size of the bust, I’d suggest putting in your actual measurements, then manually altering the pattern to have a smaller bust. If you are not confident making this alteration, you could sew up the pattern as-is, stuff it, and if the bust is not right, cut it open, pull out some stuffing, hand sew it shut, and put a stuffed bra on the form.

Here are the links to the dress form patterns, if you want to try making one for yourself.
Missy Dress Form*
Curvy Dress Form*

* 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.


Posted in Sewing

A Better Paper Tape Dress Form: Part 5 – Marking the Form and Making a Cover

This is the last post in a five part tutorial for making a paper tape dress form that truly matches your measurements and body shape.

Part 1: Introduction and Materials List
Part 2: Preparation
Part 3: Taping the Outer Form
Part 4: Making the Final Form
Part 5: Marking the Form and Making a Cover

Marking reference lines on your dress form and making a cover are completely optional. Making a woven fabric cover like I did is quite a bit of work, so it won’t appeal to everyone. An easy alternative to sewing a cover is to put a tight T-shirt onto your dress form to give you something to pin to.

Marking the Dress Form

Here are the reference lines I marked on my dress form:

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 marked all of the lines in pencil first, then traced over them with a permanent marker. I am not perfectly symmetrical, so I didn’t worry too much about getting the left and right sides exactly the same, since that’s not possible to achieve anyway.

First I marked the horizontal lines at bust and hip using my laser level*. For the waist, I marked around where the bottom edge of my waistband was (which was not level), then I marked two level lines at the waist; one passing through my back waist point, and one passing through my front waist point.

The horizontal lines on the armholes are where the original edge of the dress form was – right up at the top of my underarms. I marked a point 1 inch (2.5 cm) down from this line and blended a smooth curve through that point to draw the armholes. This is where the armhole would be on a closely fitted garment.

For the center front, center back, and side seams, I attached a small weight to a piece of thread to make a plumb line and held it up to the dress form. I did use my laser level to project a vertical line over the plumb line to make tracing the line easier, but you can’t use a laser level alone here because if the dress form is turned even slightly to the side, you will not get a straight line projected onto the dress form due to the body curvature. It worked out for me to draw the side seams straight down from the shoulder point, but I imagine that won’t work for everyone. A better strategy might be to determine a plumb line that cuts the body in half visually from the waist down, then draw a straight line (which may not be plumb) from the underarm to meet the lower side seam at the waist.

I used a ball chain necklace to determine the neckline.

I measured the distance between my bust points on my actual body, then used this measurement to locate the bust points on the dress form.

The princess lines took me a while to figure out. I think the princess lines usually go through the mid-point of the shoulder seam. On women, they go through the bust point on the front. For men, I’m not sure what the width at the front chest should be. I’d just blend a smooth line from the waist to the mid-shoulder seam point, and stand back and see if it looks right.

On the back, the princess lines should go through (or near) the most prominent part of the shoulder blade, but this can be adjusted a little to make a smoothly curved line from mid-shoulder to waist.

But at the waist and hip, I was less sure where I should put the princess lines. I’ve discovered that having your front waist darts in the wrong location can look really terrible. Pattern making books often say to place the waist darts “at the princess lines on the dress form.” Simply forming the darts where they fit my tummy shape best, like Don McCunn suggests in his book How to Make Sewing Patterns*, looks awkward and unflattering on me (I would have short darts close to center front). Good pattern making involves adjusting a standardized shape to fit around an individual body, not just copying the shape of the body.

So that’s why I wanted to get my princess lines as close as possible to where they would be on a commercial dress form. The only reference I found for locating waist darts in a standardized location on a human body was in the book Practical Guide to Patternmaking for Fashion Designers: Juniors, Misses and Women* by Lori Knowles.

Here are her formulas, if you want to try them. Waist width is measured as a straight line from side to side, not around the body. Measure out the calculated amount from the center line at the waist to find the waist dart location (where the princess line would go through).
If your waist circumference is 25″ or less, add 3/8″ to one fourth of the waist width
If your waist circumference is 26″ to 30″, add 1/2″ to one fourth of the waist width
If your waist circumference is 31″ to 35″, add 5/8″ to one fourth of the waist width
If your waist circumference is 36″ or larger, add 3/4″ to one fourth of the waist width

These formulas did not seem right to me (One fourth plus a varying fixed amount? That just sounds like she’s using the wrong fraction), plus they don’t address where the princess line should be located at the hip line. I think the princess line to center line distance at the waist and hip should just be a fraction of the body width. So instead of using the formulas above I found some pictures of commercial dress forms online and took measurements off of them, and compared this to what using the golden ratio would produce.

Here’s what I came up with [edited 3/24/2018]:

Measure the body width at waist and hip (do yourself a favor and measure this in metric units). At front and back waist, measure out 0.31 × [waist width] from the center line. At front and back hip, measure out 0.31 × [hip width] from the center line. These calculations are what you get using the golden ratio to determine the proportions.

This should at least get you in the ballpark for an hourglass or semi-hourglass figure. For other figure shapes, I’d suggest you just tape narrow ribbons to the dress form along approximate princess lines, stand back and look at them, and adjust them until they look good. You can probably stick to using 0.31 × [hip width] at the hip, then just adjust the waist location by eye. Make sure the princess lines are not too close to the center lines – that just looks funny, like having really closely set eyes.

At this point you probably think I’m crazy for putting so much effort into locating my princess lines, but trust me, it really makes a huge visual difference in your garments when you locate princess lines and waist darts well. It’s the sort of thing that takes your garment from “Oh, you must have made that,” to “Wow, that looks amazing on you.”

Making the Cover

With reference lines marked on my dress form, I was ready to make a cover for it. I made a woven fabric cover, placing seams at the marked reference lines.

Making the cover was a lot of work. I had a couple of “What the heck have I gotten myself into” moments, but I kept working at it and got it done, and now I’m really glad I finished it.

The first thing I did was number each section of the body that would be a pattern piece. I wrote the numbers right on the dress form to make it easy to remember how to sew the pieces together. I needed to make separate pattern pieces for my left and right side, since they are not the same.

Then I draped pattern pieces for each section. I started off using Press’n Seal* to make the patterns for the neck and the curvy pieces on the underside of the bust. I was running out of Press’n Seal, though, and it’s hard to work with on the larger pattern pieces anyway, so I switched to using exam table paper* for the rest of the pattern pieces.

I stuck the tracing paper onto the dress form with little dots of poster putty*, which didn’t damage the dress form like tape did. Then I traced the lines from the dress form onto the paper. This worked really well.

I added quarter inch seam allowances to my pattern pieces and marked where I wanted the zipper.

I placed the zipper between the center back line and princess line, since I wanted to be able to put pins into the cover exactly at center back. I suggest using a zipper long enough to go up a little higher than mine did – I had a hard time getting the cover on.

I made the cover using some sturdy cotton twill fabric. I interfaced the neck, armhole cover pieces, and under the zipper area. I just sewed the zipper right onto the outside of the fabric. After the zipper was sewn on, I cut a slit in the fabric underneath it to allow the zipper to open. This was a lot less bulky than inserting the zipper into a seam.

I stitched along all of the reference lines that were not seam lines to mark them on the fabric. Then I sewed the horizontal seams on the front and back pieces, and basted the shoulder seams, princess lines, and side seams together with wrong sides together and tried it on the dress form. I took it in a little in a couple of places, but for the most part, the fit was pretty good.

I stitched the final seams, pressed them open, and topstitched over the seams with a decorative stitch.

Then I sewed a casing along the lower edge, inserted a draw string, and put it on the dress form. To get the cover on, I put a slippery piece of plastic cut from a clear trash bag over the dress form, pulled the cover on and straightened it, then pulled out the plastic and closed the zipper.

And here we are – me and my new dress form. With the cover on, the bust, waist, and hip measurements on the dress form match mine exactly!

* 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).


Posted in Patternmaking, Sewing

A Better Paper Tape Dress Form: Part 4 – Making the Final Form

This is the fourth post in a five part tutorial for making a paper tape dress form that truly matches your measurements and body shape.

Part 1: Introduction and Materials List
Part 2: Preparation
Part 3: Taping the Outer Form
Part 4: Making the Final Form
Part 5: Marking the Form and Making a Cover

Now you have your outer paper tape dress form done:

But as is, it is larger than your actual body measurements. I tried on some of my clothes on my outer paper tape dress form, and clothes that fit me fine were super tight on the dress form. The area where my neck meets my shoulders was also bulky and did not match my actual shape well.

Here’s a look at the inside of the form. I was short on rib knit fabric for the T-shirt, so that’s why you see two colors of fabric.

Here’s how to make a dress form that does match your measurements.

Completely cover the inside of the outer paper dress form with plastic packaging tape. You might want to use the thinner, cheaper kind rather than thick mailing tape.

Wrap plastic tape over the edges of the dress form.

I started out using clear tape, then switched to orange. It was much easier to keep from missing spots with the colored tape. I also found wearing a head lamp helped me see inside the dress form.

Now you want to rub a very thin layer of oil on the inside of the dress form. Put a little oil on a rag or paper towel and rub it all around inside on the plastic tape. I used coconut oil, which I think was too slippery and went on too thick. I’d suggest trying a liquid cooking oil instead. Mineral oil might be OK, but I wouldn’t use petroleum jelly – like coconut oil, I think it would leave too much residue and be too slippery.

With a clean rag or paper towel, rub all around inside the dress form to wipe off as much oil as you can. You want a really tiny amount of oil on the plastic tape. If you use no oil, it will be hard to get the outer form off and you might damage your dress form, but if you use too much oil, the paper tape will not stick on the inside of the dress form.

Now cover the inside of the dress form with a layer of paper tape. The paper tape shrinks a little, so you might want to leave a gap at the waist, let the tape dry, and then fill in the waist area. This might help it not end up too short. Also, don’t get your tape very wet – wetter tape shrinks more.

My final inner dress form is 1 cm (3/8″) shorter than the outer form from the top of the neck to the base. I think the reason my paper tape shrank so much was that I was having trouble getting the tape to stick to the plastic tape, so I got it wetter than usual, which causes it to shrink more as it dries. If you are having trouble getting your tape to stick, try rubbing off some more oil from the plastic tape, maybe with a cloth slightly dampened in soapy water. Don’t get your tape too wet like I did.

I don’t think that having my dress form a little too short is going to cause problems, though. Realistically, 1 cm is within the margin of error when taking measurements on the body. The only time I can see it might be a issue is when I drape a sloper on my dress form, and in that case I can just add a little length to my patterns, which is an easy alteration.

Leave taping the bust for last, so you have tape around it to anchor to.

You can either add at least one more layer of paper tape to the inside, then strengthen the inside with expanding spray foam, or add several more layers of paper tape to the inside and skip the foam.

In my previous experiment making a skirt form, I decided that it took six layers of paper tape for the form to feel strong enough on its own. You can add a couple of layers of tape to the outside of your final form after you remove the outer form, which is easier than trying to tape inside the form (at least for me), so you would need at least four layers of tape on the inside plus two on the outside after you remove the outer form. You can also stuff the dress form to help it hold its shape. This is a good use for that bag of fabric scraps you’ve been saving.

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 tired of trying to reach inside my dress form to get paper tape in there, so I decided to add only two layers of paper tape to the inside, and then strengthen the form with expanding foam*. This stuff is really messy and every time I use it I end up ruining something with it. Usually it’s my clothes, but this time I got some on some nearby furniture. Once its gotten onto something, it will never come off, so protect a large area around where you are working, and wear old clothes and disposable gloves.

The important thing is to add a layer of foam on the inside of the form, but don’t fill the form completely anywhere, or the foam will have nowhere to expand to and it will distort the shape of your dress form, or even burst it. I had to hold the dress form at an angle and drip foam down into the chest area, since the can has to be held upside down to dispense the foam, and I couldn’t reach in there. There are a few spots in the chest area where I couldn’t get any foam, but that doesn’t matter; it’s still plenty strong. I tried to apply the foam in rows. After you put some foam in an area, wait for a bit until the foam expands a little and sticks to the paper tape, then rotate the dress form and add some more rows of foam to another area.

After the foam has cured (or your paper tape is completely dry if you just used tape inside), cut the outer form and remove it just like you did when you took the paper tape form off your body. You might need to carefully cut the outer form with a razor knife instead of scissors. If your outer form is stuck to the inner form, cut the outer form in more places to make removal easier.

If you used foam, use a knife to trim it even with the openings.

Now add one or two layers of paper tape to the outside of the final dress form.

If you want to you can cut pieces of cardboard to fit the openings in the dress form, and glue and tape them in place. Glad Press’n Seal* works really well to make patterns for the cardboard pieces to fit the neck and armholes. Just stick it over the opening and trace around the edges onto the Press’n Seal, then stick the pattern right onto your cardboard and cut it out. If you are sealing up the bottom, you can set the dress form on a piece of cardboard and trace around it.

There are different options for putting the dress form on a stand. You can place your dress form over a vertical pole, such as an IV pole*  or something you made from plumbing parts with a T at the top to support the shoulders, then stuff the inside of the dress form to keep it aligned properly. If you have a commercial dress form that is a lot smaller than you and you did not use foam inside your paper tape form, you might be able to slip your paper tape form over the top of the smaller form.

Due to my sway back it would be difficult to put a pole all the way up through my dress form, so I put it on a platform instead. I glued together three layers of cardboard and cut them to fit the base of the dress form. I cut a hole in the middle of the cardboard base to fit a foot long cardboard tube (I think it was from a roll of plastic wrap) and glued the tube in place. Then I taped the base onto the bottom of the dress form with the tube inside.

I have a dress form stand that I made from scraps of wood many years ago for my first duct tape form. I modified it a little to work with this dress form. I added a platform to the top, then drilled a hole and put in a dowel in the center of it. The dowel is quite a bit smaller than the hole in the bottom of the dress form. I did this because I knew the stand and dress form were both a bit wonky and I wanted to have enough play to shim the dress form to get it level. The main purpose of the dowel is to keep the dress form from falling off the stand. I wrapped some fabric around the base of the dowel to keep it snugly in place in the cardboard tube.

I checked the measurements on my dress form and they were just a little smaller than me, which for the most part was good because I planned to add a cover on it, which increases the size a little. I did add some extra layers of paper tape to the waist to increase the size – I had had my paper waistband on a little too tight when I was being taped up. I tried one of my bras on the dress form to check the cup size, and found that the dress form’s bust was a bit too small, so I put a thin foam cup bra onto the form to pad it out a little. The foam cup bra also has the benefit of smoothing out some of the lumps and bumps on the bust.

If you are happy with your dress form like it is, you can be done at this point. You probably want to measure up from the lower edge to locate the markings you made on the outer form for the waist, navel, and hips, and mark these on your final form.

Paper tape forms are hard and slippery, so I wanted to make a woven fabric cover for mine to give me something to pin to. I plan to do some pattern making, so I also wanted to mark reference lines on my dress form similar to those on a commercial dress form. I’ll show you how I did that in my next post, Part 5: Marking the Form and Making a Cover.

* 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).

Posted in Patternmaking, Sewing

A Better Paper Tape Dress Form: Part 3 – Taping the Outer Form

This is the third post in a five part tutorial for making a paper tape dress form that truly matches your measurements and body shape.

Part 1: Introduction and Materials List
Part 2: Preparation
Part 3: Taping the Outer Form
Part 4: Making the Final Form
Part 5: Marking the Form and Making a Cover

Now that you have your T-shirt made and you know how to use water-activated paper tape, let’s get started making your dress form!

First, get everything set up:

Get out a fine point permanent marker, a yard/meter stick or tape measure, large sharp scissors, and a ruler.

Cut a strip of poster board 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide that is long enough to go around the model’s waist with a little bit of overlap. If the model prefers wider waistbands, you can cut the strip to their preferred waistband width instead. Tape together strips of poster board with paper tape if you need a longer piece – just make sure final strip is straight.

Cut two strips of manila folder that are about a half inch (1 cm) narrower than your paper tape is. The strips should be as long as the model’s upper arm is wide (from front of arm to back of arm).

If you have a self-leveling laser level, set it up on a tripod or on something you can adjust to the model’s hip level. If you don’t have a laser level, you’ll need to use a permanent marker taped to a yard/meter stick to mark a level line around the lower edge of the dress form, held at the right level by a stack of books or something (see the picture near the end of this post). Get that setup figured out ahead of time so the model is not stuck in the paper tape while you set this up.

Get your tape ready. Hopefully you have pre-cut a bunch of pieces. Get out two bowls of water (unless you are right by a sink), and a plate to set your sponge on. One bowl is for dipping the sponge in, and the other is for rinsing the sticky glue off of the taper’s hands. You’ll also want some towels handy.

I’m going to demonstrate the taping process on my DIY half-scale dress form with arms that I designed, because it was way easier to get pictures this way. She is a very patient model, and stands still for hours without complaining.

The model should stand with their normal posture. Walking around the room a bit can help them feel less self conscious and remember what their usual posture actually is – it can be hard to stand with “normal posture” on command.

Cover the cups of the model’s bra with plastic wrap taped in place or Press’n Seal. Have the model put on the T-shirt inside out, with the seam allowances on the outside. If the model’s waist is small compared to their chest and shoulders and the shirt will not stretch enough at the waist to be put on, cut open the shirt at one or both sides of the waist. You can just cut off the seam allowance and stitches – there’s no need to pick out stitches.

Cut out holes to expose most of the breasts. This allows you to get better definition between the breasts. It looks funny, though, I  know.

Close up the slit at the center front neck with some paper tape. If you had to cut open the side seams at the waist, tape them closed with paper tape, too.

Wrap the strip of poster board around the model’s waist and tape the ends together with paper tape. This strip keeps the waistline from growing, which it tends to do with taped dress forms otherwise, so use it even if the model does not have a defined waist or does not plan to sew skirts or dresses with waist seams. The waistband should be at the natural waist, where the waistband of an elastic waist skirt would sit. Don’t try to force it to be level, just let it settle where it wants to go at the narrowest part of the body.

If the model has soft body tissue and you are getting more bulging than you would like above and below the waistband (bulges are hard to shape the paper tape around), remove the waistband and wrap some plastic wrap around the waist area underneath the T-shirt. Don’t wrap the plastic wrap tightly – you don’t want to distort the body shape too much. Using a wider paper waistband can help, too. Put the paper waistband back on over the T-shirt.

Locate the hip level – the place where the hip measurement is largest – and make a mark on the T-shirt at this level so you can measure from hip to floor.

Measure and record the following:

Heel height of the shoes the model is wearing (if any) _______
Hip to floor _______
Navel to floor ______
Lower edge of waistband to floor at center front _______
Lower edge of waistband to floor at center back _______

Here are some general taping tips:

  • It usually works better to apply tape diagonally rather than horizontally or vertically around the body.
  • You always want the tape to follow the contours of the body. If you have a piece of tape that is partially stuck down, and you realize that the tape is not going to lie flat, cut the rest of it off or cut a snip into it. Try not to scrunch or wrinkle the tape. You can also hold up a dry piece of tape to the body to see if it will fit a tricky area before you get it wet and stick it down.
  • Be careful not to distort the body shape by pulling the tape too tight, especially on soft areas of the body. Keep the tape as snug as you can make it without distorting the body shape.
  • Overlap the tape pieces as you put them on, especially on the first layer.

Cut and wet some long pieces of tape. Place the first piece centered right below the bust and wrap the ends around to the back so they cross over each other. Let the tape follow the contours of the body – don’t try to force it to wrap horizontally around the body. Add a second piece of tape over the first.

Fill in the back from underbust level up to the previous pieces of tape with horizontal pieces of tape.

Cut two long narrow pieces of tape. Place them from the underbust tape, between the breasts, and over the shoulders to the tape on the back, crossing over each other between the breasts. Define the area between the breasts as closely as possible. If long pieces of tape will not fit on the body as shown, use shorter pieces and overlap them.

Continue filling in the upper back, upper chest, and shoulders with tape but stay a little way away from the neckline, shoulder points, and armholes. Don’t tape the bust yet. Keep at least an inch (2.5 cm) away from the shoulder points for now.

Note: You may be tempted to extend the shoulders on the dress form to include the curve of the upper arm. If you do this, keep in mind that you will only be able to put garments that have a full length front or back closure onto the dress form, since the shoulders will be too wide to fit inside a top that pulls over the head. Also it is difficult to locate the shoulder points and armholes on a dress form after it has been removed from the body, which is why I suggest being careful about locating the shoulder points and armholes while you make the dress form.

You need to locate the shoulder points. Have the model raise and lower their arm slightly and feel for the dent between the bones of the body and those of the arm. Put your finger on a shoulder point and have the model raise and lower their arm again. Your finger should stay stationary if it is in the right spot, not move with the arm. Mark this spot with a marker.

To locate the correct position from the side, place a ruler on the shoulder and hold it level to find the highest point on the shoulder.

Make cross marks to mark the shoulder points on the T-shirt.

Cut two pieces of paper tape the same length as your manila folder strips (the ones you previously cut to be the width of the upper arm and a little narrower than your paper tape). Get the tape wet and stick it onto the manila paper, folding the tape over one edge.

Cut two pieces of tape a little longer than the manila folder strips, and stick the manila folder and tape pieces onto the longer tape as shown, with edge of the paper that has tape folded over it sticking out just past the edge of the longer piece of tape.

Have the model raise their arms just enough to slip these pieces right up to the top of their armpits. The paper edge should be as high as possible without being uncomfortable or painful when the model lowers their arms. Keep the top edge of the paper level with the floor. Stick down the tape, and hold it in place with more tape around the edges as needed.

Now you need to mark the armholes. Place a ruler under the arm and hold it level with the floor.  At about a third of the vertical distance between the shoulder point and the top edge of the ruler, mark a point on the T-shirt directly above the ruler.

Do this for both arms on both the front and back of the body.

Sketch in a smooth shape for both the front and back armholes, going through the shoulder points and the marks you just made. Note that if the model has narrow or broad shoulders, the armholes will angle in or out more and will look different than those on my mini dress form.

Tape carefully around the front and back armholes.

There are a couple of different options for the bust. You may want to simply tape around the edges of the bust as shown on the left (the right breast) in the picture below. After you remove the dress form from the model, you would close up the holes with a piece of cardboard and more paper tape. You would put a foam cup bra on the finished dress form and stuff it to get a smooth, soft bust with the correct measurements. This option would allow you to put different bras on the dress form, so clothing could be sized to fit a specific bra. It can also save time, especially if the model has a large bust. If you are not sure which option you want, tape the bust fully now – you always have the option to perform a double mastectomy on the dress form later.

To tape the bust completely, tape it using pieces of tape cut into a fringe, as shown below. Start taping the bust from the bottom up, with the cut edges of the fringe facing upward. This allows you to quickly cover the curves of the bust without using many small pieces of tape.

Place a narrow piece of tape around the body at hip level, then put some pieces on the front and back in an X, connecting them together at the side seams.

Fill in the rest of the waist and hip area, using diagonally placed pieces of tape. Tape a bit below the level you plan to cut off the dress form at.

Use a permanent marker to scribble all over the first layer of tape. This will help you cover the next layer evenly, so you don’t have to try to remember where you added the second layer. Try to angle the pieces on the second layer so they cross over the pieces on the first layer. (No, I haven’t forgotten about the neck – don’t tape it yet. The model will be less uncomfortable if you wait as long as possible to tape it.)

Tape a second layer of tape over the first layer. Add an extra layer around the armholes and around the bottom edge where you will be cutting off the dress form.

If you have done a good job taping, the dress form should feel firm enough to hold its shape after two layers. Tap on it and press on it in various places to see if it feels firm. If it is still fairly flexible, you may need to add a third layer of tape, or it might just need to dry some more. You can use a hair dryer to speed up drying. If only certain areas feel flexible, add another layer in those spots. Don’t add more layers than necessary, or you will have a hard time cutting off the dress form.

*Don’t skip this step – you can’t go back and do it after the dress form is cut off:  Use the measurements you took at the beginning to locate the hip, front and back waist, and navel. Use a permanent marker to mark the following on the dress form:

  • The shoulder points
  • Hip level
  • Navel location
  • Lower edge of waistband at center front
  • Lower edge of waistband at center back

Now we want to mark two level lines – one around the hip, and another below it where you want the lower edge of the dress form to be.

You can’t mark a level line measuring up from the floor with a yardstick, because the shape of the body prevents the yardstick from being able to touch the body when it is held vertically.

Here are two ways you can mark the level lines. A self-leveling laser level is the easiest method and will give you the best level line. Another option is to tape a marking pen to a yardstick and set it up so it is sticking out horizontally. The model needs to carefully rotate, maintaining their posture, while the helper marks the line. Make sure the model is not “helpfully” leaning toward the pen.

The lower level line needs to be very accurate, or the dress form will lean to one side and/or forward or backward. It’s hard to go back after the fact and try to figure out how the dress form should stand to reflect the model’s posture, so take the time to get it marked correctly now.

Finally, let’s tape around the neck. You can either tape only right up to the neckline, or tape all or part of the way up the neck. Be sure to ask the model which they prefer – some people really don’t like having their neck constricted. If you only plan on making an outer paper tape form instead of making another form inside it, only tape up to the neckline, or the neck will end up too large.

If you will only be taping up to the neckline, use a ball chain necklace cut to the right length to help establish the neckline (or if you don’t want to cut your chain, tie a single over hand knot in it at one side of the neck). Mark the neckline with marker, then tape three layers right up to the neckline. Use a hair dryer to dry the tape after each layer.

If you want to tape up the neck, tape the join between the neck and body with pieces of tape cut into a fringe like I showed for the bust, except apply the tape pieces with the fringe pointing downward this time. Tape two or three layers of tape around the neck, drying each layer with a hair dryer before applying the next layer.

Mark the line(s) where you want to cut the dress form to remove it. Make cross marks on the cutting lines so you can match the edges back up when you tape the cut edges together. You can either cut up the center back or up a back princess line and just below one shoulder from the armhole to the neck. The center back line is a little easier to cut, but you will have to bend the dress form more to get it off if you cut there. It’s easier for the model to get out of the dress form if you use the princess line cut, but it’s a little harder to tape the dress form back together along these lines. I’ve tried both cutting lines, and they both have their advantages and disadvantages, so I’m not sure which I like better.

You need to use large, sharp scissors to cut off the paper tape. When you cut, push your hand up under the dress form under where you are cutting to help make room for the scissors. Feel ahead of where you are cutting to make sure you don’t cut off the model’s undergarments. This gets a bit personal, but it’s better than stabbing the model or cutting off their bra or underwear, right? Tell the model to yell “Ow” immediately at the first hint of pain (now is not the time for them to be stoic), so you can stop cutting before you actually stab them. Cut slowly and carefully.

Start taping the cut edges together immediately after you take off the paper tape form. Don’t even sit there and admire it for a couple of minutes first, or the cut edges will harden into different shapes and will no longer fit together well (ask me how I know). Use a couple of layers of paper tape on the outside of the seam, and a single layer of paper tape on the inside of the seam.

Carefully trim the bottom of the dress form, cutting on the level line that you marked. Trim off excess fabric around the neck and armholes.

Here are a few pictures of my actual dress form being made:

If you want to use this outer shell as your dress form, which I don’t recommend, add several layers of paper tape to the inside of the form to strengthen it.

A much better idea is to create another paper tape form inside this one, which I will show you how to do in the next post, Part 4: Making the Final Form.



Posted in Patternmaking, Sewing

A Better Paper Tape Dress Form: Part 2 – Preparation

This is the second post in a five part tutorial for making a paper tape dress form that truly matches your measurements and body shape.

Part 1: Introduction and Materials List
Part 2: Preparation
Part 3: Taping the Outer Form
Part 4: Making the Final Form
Part 5: Marking the Form and Making a Cover

Making the T-shirt

Most people suggest either taping over a T-shirt or a plastic bag when making a tape dress form. I’ve tried both, and neither work well. A loose fitting T-shirt adds too much bulk and the fabric gets bunched up under the arms. A tight T-shirt can distort the body shape and causes the dress form to buckle after it is removed from the body. Plastic against the skin is very uncomfortable, and it makes me feel like I’m going to faint. Also, if you use plastic, you won’t have a layer of fabric as part of the dress form, so it won’t be as rigid and you will need to apply more layers of paper tape. You wouldn’t think a layer of knit fabric would make the dress form more rigid, but it really does.

The solution I came up with is to draft and sew a simple custom fit T-shirt from 100% cotton rib knit fabric. It fits closely under the arms, goes up the neck, and stretches easily to fit the body without compressing it. If you have some cotton/spandex knit fabric on hand, you can use that instead of rib knit fabric, but don’t use synthetic fabric or cotton/polyester blend fabric, because the paper tape will not stick to it well.

Here’s how to draft the T-shirt. I recommend you take the measurements in centimeters, not inches, to make the calculations easier.

Measurements to take:

_______ Neck circumference

_______ Neck length

_______ High bust. The high bust measurement is taken around the body just above the bust. For figures without a bust, substitute the chest measurement for the high bust.

_______ Bicep. Measure around the fullest part of the upper arm.

_______ Side neck to waist. Measure from the point where the shoulder seam meets the neckline straight down the back to the waistline.

_______ Waist

_______ Hip

_______ Waist to hip. Measure the vertical distance between the waist and hip.

_______ Hip to desired length of T-shirt. Measure vertically from the hip line down to where the bottom edge of the T-shirt will be. I suggest making the T-shirt at least mid thigh length.

Make the following calculations. If your measurements are in inches, make the following substitutions in the formulas below: 3/8″ for 1 cm, 3/4″ for 2 cm, 4″ for 10 cm.

A = [Bicep]÷2 + 2 cm =  _______

B = [Neck circumference]÷4 + 1 cm =  _______

C = [Neck length] =  _______

D = [High bust]÷4 =  _______

E = 10 cm

F = [Side neck to waist] = _______

G = [Waist]÷4 =  _______

H = [Waist to hip] = _______

I = [Hip]÷4 =  _______

The front and back will be cut from the same pattern piece.

Draw a long vertical line for the center front/center back line (or use the edge of your paper for this line).

Draw a line representing the shoulder slope. For shoulders with average slope, mark a point on the center line, then measure out 40 cm and down 16 cm to locate a second point. Draw a line through the two points. If the model has especially square or sloped shoulders you can hold up the paper to the model and sketch in the slope instead. It does not have to be exact.

Refer to the figure below for the following steps:

Draw a line parallel to the shoulder line that is a distance A below it.

For the neck, draw in a line parallel to the center line a distance B out from the center line.

Measure up from the side neck point a distance C and square off the top of the neck.

Measure out D to locate the underarm point.

From the underarm point, measure out E for the length of the sleeve, and square off the end of the sleeve. This is an arbitrary length – you can make the sleeve a little shorter if your fabric is not wide enough. Having the sleeve there just keeps the model warmer and keeps deodorant/sweat/hair out of the tape.

From the side neck point, measure down F to locate the waist line. Measure out G on the waist line and make a mark.

From the waistline measure down H to locate the hip line. Measure out I on the hip line and make a mark.

Draw a fairly straight line from the underarm point to the waist, then curve out to the hip.

Extend the pattern down straight below the hip line to the desired length.

Mark “cut on fold” on the center front/center back line, and cut out the pattern. 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowances are already included on the pattern, so you don’t need to add seam allowances. Cut 2 on fold, with the direction of greatest stretch of the fabric going around the body.

Cut a vertical slit down the center of the neck on one of the pieces of fabric. This will be the front.

Place the T-shirt front on the model’s body to locate the bust points and draw cross marks on the bust points. Remove the fabric from the body and cut on the marked lines. (If your model has a small bust or does not have a bust, skip this step.)

Using a serger or zig-zag stitch, stitch the T-shirt front to the back at the shoulder/neck seams, then the underarm/side seams, with 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowances. If you sew the seams with a zig-zag stitch, trim the seam allowance close to the stitching.


Using Water Activated Paper Tape

The person or persons who will be wetting and/or applying the paper tape should practice using it on inanimate objects before the actual dress form taping session. Cover a curved object such as a soda bottle with plastic wrap, apply two layers of tape to the object, overlapping each piece of tape, and let it dry. When the tape is dry, it should not bubble up or peel up on the edges. When the tape is removed from the object, it should hold its shape.

The first thing you need to think about is the humidity in the room you will be making the dress form in. If you live in a very dry climate, the tape will dry before you can apply it, so you need to raise the humidity, either by running a humidifier or doing the taping in a bathroom after the shower has been used.

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).

If the humidity is high, you will need to run a dehumidifier or air conditioner to lower the humidity so the tape will dry. You can also use a hair dryer to help the tape dry. If your climate is very humid, I’m not sure how well a paper tape dress form will hold up over time, so this method of making a dress form might not be the best option for you. If you use expanding foam on the inside, let the form dry completely in a dry room, then spray or paint on a moisture resistant sealer (such as Krylon Acrylic Spray*) after the tape is dry on the final form, it might be fine in a humid climate, though (I live in a pretty dry place, so I’m just guessing).

Making a paper tape dress form can take several hours, which can be tiring for everyone involved. To speed up the process, pre-cut a large pile of tape pieces, and if possible, have two helpers to do the taping and two people cutting and wetting tape. In my experience, it takes 3 to 4 hours to tape up the model with only one person doing everything, so you may be able to get the process done in an hour or so with more helpers.

The people doing the taping don’t need to know anything about sewing. Good attention to detail, the ability to follow directions, and a reasonable amount of dexterity are all that is required.

You will get the best results if you cut the tape lengthwise into narrower strips. Cut several long pieces, stack them up and cut them together, then cut them into shorter pieces. If your tape is more than 2 inches wide, cut it lengthwise to reduce the width of the tape. If you use pieces that are too wide, these areas tend to warp and ripple, don’t stay flat, and flex more. I think this is because the paper tape shrinks a little as it dries. Narrow pieces of tape are necessary if your model is small and/or has a lot of curves.

There are some tricks to using paper tape. If you don’t wet it correctly, the tape will not adhere properly, so the dress form will be too flexible and the tape will peel off. If you do not get the tape wet enough, the tape will not adhere well and it will peel off. If the tape is too wet, it may initially look like it adhered fine, but after it is dry it will bubble and peel up.

This really isn’t as hard as I’m making it sound, but I’m going into a lot of detail on this because this is all stuff that I wish I knew years ago when I first started using paper tape. Even if you don’t wet and apply the tape perfectly, you’ll still get a usable dress form. It just won’t be quite as firm and the tape will peel up around the edges, so don’t freak out and decide it’s too hard before you even start!

First, dunk a sponge in a bowl of water.

Place the sponge on a plate, then gently press on the sponge while holding the plate at an angle over the bowl to squeeze a little of the water out. You want your sponge almost saturated, but not quite. The sponge should not be sitting in a puddle of water on the plate. The exact amount of water you need in your sponge will vary depending on humidity – you’ll want your sponge a little wetter if the air is dry. You’ll have to experiment to get it just right. Re-wet your sponge every 15-30 minutes.

To wet a piece of tape that is smaller than the sponge, place it adhesive side down on the sponge and pat it down onto the sponge. Pick up the tape as soon as the whole piece is wet – don’t let the tape sit on the sponge too long.

To wet a long piece of tape, press one end onto the sponge, then pull the rest of the tape over the sponge while holding the tape down with your other hand. You’ll have to experiment to get the right speed and pressure. If you pull too slowly and press down hard on the tape, you’ll actually wipe the glue off of the tape. If you go too fast and/or don’t press firmly enough, you may miss getting some of the tape wet.

When you are applying tape, wet a piece of tape, set it aside, then wet another one. Now set aside the second piece of tape and apply the first one. Always wet another piece of tape before applying the one that has been sitting. Letting the tape sit for a few seconds gives the glue time to activate and get really sticky. The tape will stick better, peel up less, and create a more rigid form with fewer layers when you do this. Just make sure you don’t let the tape sit so long that the glue dries.

Preparing the Model

The model will be standing for hours, and won’t be able to use the bathroom during this time. There are a few things you can do to make them more comfortable.

First, the model can have a small drink of water and a snack, then lie down with their feet propped up for 30 minutes. This will help the kidneys process the extra fluid in the body much faster. Then they should use the bathroom right before you start taping.

The model should wear their usual undergarments, with only the custom made T-shirt over that. If she regularly wears both non-padded and padded bras, I suggest wearing the non-padded bra for making the dress form, since you can pad out the dress form to be larger later, but you can’t make it smaller. One thing you can do to accommodate different bras is to only tape around the edges of the breasts, leaving most of the breasts untaped. Close up the holes on the finished dress form with cardboard and more paper tape, then put a bra on the dress form and stuff it until you get the right shape and bust measurement. This way you can have one dress form, but still be able to fit a garment to a specific bra.

Shoes affect posture, so if the model regularly wears high heels and thinks she will be OK standing in them for hours, she should wear shoes with the heel height she wears most often. If the model is wearing shoes, note down which shoes they are wearing and measure the heel height. If the model opts to not wear shoes, they should wear warm socks.

The room should be quite warm. As the tape dries it will chill the model, so have a warm hat ready for when they get cold. I wished I had some leg warmers when I was being taped. A heater or heat lamp aimed at the model would be nice, too.

Standing on an antifatigue mat* or other cushioned mat will make the model more comfortable.

The model will start to feel uncomfortable when they are completely taped up and can’t take a full breath. Coughing,  laughing, or completely expelling the air from the lungs can help relieve the feeling of needing take a full breath.

The model needs to stand with their usual posture during the taping, but they can and should move their lower legs and feet whenever possible during the taping. The model can bend a leg at the knee, raising their foot behind them, rotate their ankles, and scrunch their toes. They should start doing this right away instead of waiting until they feel uncomfortable.

OK, now you are ready for Part 3 – Taping the Outer Form

* 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).

Posted in Patternmaking, Sewing

A Better Paper Tape Dress Form: Part 1 – Intro and Materials

This is the first post in a five part tutorial for making a paper tape dress form that truly matches your measurements and body shape.

Part 1: Introduction and Materials List
Part 2: Preparation
Part 3: Taping the Outer Form
Part 4: Making the Final Form
Part 5: Marking the Form and Making a Cover

Every few years I make a new custom dress form. I started out with duct tape forms, then upgraded to paper tape forms. Each time I make one I learn a bit more. The last paper tape dress form I made is the best one yet, and since I made a second dress form inside the initial outer paper tape mold, it matches my shape and measurements almost exactly.

Paper tape forms made with water activated kraft paper tape are inexpensive, and if you do it right, are a very accurate way to make a custom dress form.  It costs less to make a paper tape dress form than a plaster and poured foam form, plus you don’t have the mess of plaster and the worry of the foam expanding too much and cracking the form open. And it’s definitely less expensive than having a dress form made from a 3D body scan.

I’ve come to the conclusion that duct tape dress forms and paper tape dress forms made the traditional way are not very useful. The thickness of the tape and the T-shirt under it typically adds at least an inch, but often more, to the body measurements. The shape of the shoulder area changes, too. People say, oh, that’s OK that your dress form measures a little larger than you, because your garments need ease anyway.

The truth is that on a garment the ease at your bustline and hips is added at the side seams, not evenly all around the body as it is on a paper tape or duct tape dress form. So if you shape darts to fit the dress form, they will be too large, and you will get garments that poof out over the bust, bum, and tummy. I really hate how too-large darts look. They make me feel like I’m a little girl playing dress up in my mother’s clothes. If you only wear loose fitting garments, you might be OK with doing your fitting on a duct tape or traditional paper tape form, but it does not work for me. Even my knit T-shirts that fit me won’t fit on a dress form made this way.

I solved this problem by using my initial paper tape form as a mold to make another dress form inside. I put plastic tape on the inside of the outer form, oiled it lightly, put a couple of layers of paper tape on the inside, then used some expanding foam inside to keep it rigid. After I took off the outer form, I added a layer of paper tape on the outside of the final form so I wouldn’t have the sticky side of the paper tape exposed. Then I sewed a cover for the form. The final form is very lightweight, yet perfectly rigid. You have to add several layers of paper tape on the inside of a traditional paper tape form to keep it rigid anyway, so this really wasn’t that much more work than making a regular paper tape form.

I’m detailing how I created my dress form in a series of blog posts. This is going to be a long tutorial, so I’ve broken it into five parts.

Note that I describe the process for an adult female figure with a bust, but the same basic procedure works for men and other figures without a bust – except it’s easier because you have fewer curves to deal with. Just ignore all the steps regarding the bust if your model does not have a bust.

Also, it might seem weird that I’m calling the person the dress form is being made for a “model” but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate word. As far as I know, there is no word in the English language that means “the person being fitted.” It would be awkward to say “the person the dress form is being made for” frequently and I don’t want to use a made up word like fittee or wrapee because I find that annoying.

Materials List

Let’s start with the materials you will need. You may not need all of these things depending on the options you choose, and you will need a few additional things I don’t specifically list (sewing equipment, for example), so I suggest you read through the tutorial before deciding what you need to purchase.

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).

  • Water activated non-reinforced kraft paper tape*. A 600 foot roll should be more than enough to make a dress form for most people. If the model is large, you might want to get two rolls to be on the safe side. The tape comes in different widths. You might want to use 2 inch wide tape* used full width for a large or not very curvy person, or 2.5 inch* to 3 inch wide tape* cut in half lengthwise for a smaller/curvier person. If you have extra tape you can always use it to make a dress form for a friend or save it to make another dress form in a few years. You can also use it to seal up packages and as a less messy paper mache substitute in crafts. Note: Don’t use the kind of paper tape that is reinforced with fiberglass fibers – it won’t produce a rigid form.
  • Large kitchen sponge*
  • Dinner plate or other flat dish
  • Two bowls of water, if you are not doing your taping near a sink. One is to wet the sponge in, and one is for rinsing glue off of the taper’s hands.
  • Towels
  • Hair dryer
  • Plastic packaging tape* (preferably in a color other than clear)
  • Thin 100% cotton rib knit fabric* You’ll need enough to sew a mid-thigh length T-shirt from, so the amount needed will depend on the size of the model and the width of the fabric. You can use thin cotton/spandex blend knit fabric instead, but make sure the fabric is not pulled tight around the body, or it can cause the dress form to buckle after you remove it. Do not use synthetic or cotton/polyester blend fabric – the paper tape will not stick to it well.
  • Large sharp pair of scissors that you don’t mind using to cut paper. An old pair of dressmaking shears is a good choice. These angled shears* look like they would be good to use for cutting off the dress form (I haven’t tried them myself, though).
  • Fine point permanent marker*
  • Chain necklace to mark the neckline. I suggest using a ball chain necklace*.
  • Manila folder or similar card stock paper
  • Sheet of poster board. You can substitute a manila folder or thin paperboard such as from cereal boxes for the poster board.
  • Corrugated cardboard for closing up the holes in the dress form
  • Plastic wrap (cling film) and/or Glad Press’n Seal*
  • Yard stick or meter stick*
  • It is really helpful to have a self-leveling laser level*. My laser level is one of my favorite sewing tools – it’s great for marking hems, too.
  • Large gap expanding foam* (optional). I am fairly small, and I used an entire 20 ounce can. I would suggest having at least two cans on hand, more if the model is large. If you use foam you will also need disposable gloves, paper or plastic sheeting to protect your work area, and old clothes to wear while you use it. If you don’t want to use expanding foam, you can just add several more layers of paper tape on the inside of the dress form to strengthen it.
  • If you want to pad out a bra to create the bust shape instead of taping the bust with paper tape, you will need a foam cup bra that fits the model.
  • Something to use for a stand. You can make a stand, just set your dress form on a table, or purchase something like an IV pole*.

Up Next: Part 2 – Preparation

* 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).

Posted in Patternmaking, Sewing

Sewing Podcasts

I’ve recently become a podcast-aholic. Previously I’d listen to an occasional sewing related podcast episode when a blogger I follow would mention it, but I didn’t subscribe to any podcasts.  It just seemed like too much of a hassle to find the podcasts, and I wasn’t all that interested. Also, I have satellite internet so I have to watch my data usage.

Then along came the Love to Sew podcast. After seeing it mentioned a couple of times on blogs, I listened to one episode, then that night during my free data usage hours I downloaded the rest of the episodes. Ever since I’ve been hooked and eagerly anticipating Tuesdays when the latest episode comes out.

It was getting to be a long wait from Tuesday to Tuesday, so I started looking for other sewing related podcasts to keep me occupied while I waited for the next Love to Sew episode, and I found quite a few.

I’d been downloading podcast episodes on my computer and copying them over to my iPod nano, which took a few minutes for each episode, so when I started listening to more podcasts, I had to switch to using a podcast app on my phone to keep track of them. I realized that my internet data usage is still in the free zone early in the morning when my husband gets up to go to work, so I turned off automatic updating in my podcast app and I download new episodes manually first thing in the morning.

If you are new to podcasts, there are different ways to listen to them. Usually podcasters will have a link on their website that you can use to play an episode, so you can just click on that if you only want to listen to an occasional episode.

If you want to listen to a lot of podcasts, you’ll want to either subscribe to them in iTunes or use a podcast app on your smartphone or tablet, such as the Podcast app for iPhones, Stitcher, or various other apps. I’ve been using Stitcher, which I like pretty well. I also used the iPhone Podcast app to get the earliest episodes of Maker Style, since those episodes are not on Stitcher. Here’s a beginner’s guide to podcasts if you want more help.

I like to listen to podcasts when I’m doing housework or while sewing something simple. Folding laundry or washing dishes becomes a lot more interesting, and if I have a lot of seam ripping to do, listening to a podcast while I do it makes it a lot less painful!

Listening to podcasts has opened up a whole new world for me. I’ve gotten behind-the-scenes info on bloggers and indie patternmakers I follow, gotten sewing advice, and discovered new-to-me bloggers and websites (how did I not know about The Fold Line?!). I feel more connected to the sewing community even though I’m sewing by myself.

Here are the sewing related podcasts I’ve been listening to. Some of the podcasts in the list don’t have any recent episodes, but if you haven’t listened to them before, there’s still lots to listen to there.


Clothes Making Mavens

Crafty Planner Podcast

Elise Gets Crafty

Love to Sew

Maker Style

Modern Sewciety

Seamwork Radio

Sewing Out Loud

Sewing Together

Thread Cult

Threads Magazine Podcast: “Sewing With Threads”

While She Naps

allgrownupnow’s podcast

Update: Here are a couple of new ones:

Stitcher’s Brew

Making Podcast

What about you? Do you listen to podcasts? Do you have any podcast recommendations (sewing/craft related or otherwise)?

Posted in Sewing

Bra Update

When sewing bloggers post about the pretty new bra they just sewed, I always wonder if the bra actually fits, if it’s comfortable, and if they are actually still wearing it months or years later.

So here’s an update on the bras I made a couple of years ago. Those bras no longer fit, but I wore the smallest three up until recently anyway. In fact, after all that work sewing 20+ bras in a row, the final bras I made only fit me for a few weeks. On the whole, my weight is usually stable, but somehow I decided to sew bras during one of the few times in my life my weight was fluctuating. First I gained weight, and then I changed my diet and lost weight. I kept wearing the bras I made even though they were too large because I was too tired of sewing bras to work on revising my bra pattern yet again, and they still fit better and were more comfortable than anything I could buy.

I recently decided my weight had been stable for long enough that I could face working on my bra pattern again. I realized I’d been holding back on sewing everything else I wanted to because I was afraid the garments wouldn’t fit right after I finally had a correctly fitting bra. So I really needed to make some bras. I’m highly motivated to maintain my current weight, because I really don’t want to have to adjust my bra pattern again for a long time!

This time adjusting my bra pattern was much easier. I put on my bra that was too large, marked a new wire line for the smaller wires I need now, carefully pinned out the extra fabric in the cups, and adjusted the pattern to match. Sizing down is definitely the way to go. It’s hard to see how much larger you need to make a cup that is too small, but pinning out extra on a too large cup is not too difficult.

Then I made a bra muslin. I was shocked – it only needed a few small tweaks to fit perfectly! It’s almost like I actually know what I’m doing. Which I would hope would be the case after sewing so many bras.

The second bra was wearable, but the fabric stretched out as I wore it, so I added a lining and an extra support piece to the bottom of the lower cup on the next versions. By the fourth bra I had a bra I was happy with, so I made a couple more. Unfortunately, these bras only fit me well for half of each month, so I made a second slightly larger “PMS” version of my bra pattern and sewed a couple more bras in that size.

Since every different fabric affects the fit of a bra, I decided to make things easy and just make a bunch of boring white bras.

However, after sewing a few white bras I started to get really tired of all of that white, so I made one bra using a scrap of yellow polka dot fabric, and I dyed another one red. The problem with dyeing is it’s a hassle and the colors bleed in the wash.

I absolutely cannot stand to hand wash bras, so I put them in my front loading washer on the delicate cycle, and it seems a waste to run the washer just for one bra. With my last batch of bras I washed my red bras with the white ones and let the white ones turn pink, which I don’t really want to do this time. Maybe I’ll pick one white bra to wash with the red one, so I’ll just have one that turns pink.

I do like the polka dots. The lower cups and sides of the cups are made from cotton shirting, so I have lots of fabric options for that part of the bra. Maybe I can find some more polka dot cotton shirting with colored dots on a white background. Then I could have a little bit of color, but I wouldn’t have to worry about it bleeding in the wash. Stripes might be fun, too. I kept telling myself I was perfectly happy with white bras – I just wanted some bras that fit! However, in keeping with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as soon as I had a few white bras that fit, I started wanting some pretty ones, too.

Since my bra pattern is now fairly complicated and takes a while to sew, I was wondering if I could simplify my pattern if I made the cups out of duoplex, which does not need a lining. I had been avoiding duoplex because heavy-duty polyester fabric just did not sound appealing. I bought some duoplex, adjusted my pattern, and sewed up another version. The cups on this bra came out a bit pointy, almost like a bullet bra, and um, you can really tell when I get cold.

I could work on the duoplex version of the pattern to get a better shape, but I’m not going to, because I don’t like wearing duoplex. It feels cold and clammy sometimes and too warm other times. It feels like wearing plastic (which it is). It also generates static electricity. It’s hard to pinpoint why I don’t like wearing polyester, but I feel slightly on edge and out of sorts all day when I wear it. I can see why people like duoplex for making bras, though. It’s really sturdy and supportive, it has just a little stretch for comfort, and it is easy to sew. I’ll wear this bra occasionally, when I’m behind on laundry, but it’s definitely not my favorite.

I make the upper portion of my bra cups out of nylon tricot, but this doesn’t bother me like duoplex does. It probably helps that it’s a smaller piece of synthetic fabric, not the whole cup. Also, nylon breathes better and is softer than polyester.

The key to comfortable underwires for me is to topstitch a second set of channeling on the outside of the bra and put the wires in the outer channeling. That way the wires don’t dig into my ribs.

Here’s an inside view. With the lining, it looks almost as nice as the outside.

Close up of the channeling on the outside:

It took me a while to figure out which fabric and notions I like for bra making. Unfortunately the supplies I like come from several different online shops, so I end up paying a lot in shipping costs. I’m not sure whether I should stock up on more supplies now while items are still available, or wait in case I want to make a different type of bra next time.

I should at least stock up on 5/8″ band elastic from Bravo Bella, because this is absolutely the only type of band elastic that works for me. 1/2″ band elastic is too narrow. I’ve tried several different kinds, but they all cut into me at first and then stretch out over a couple of hours so I lose support. I’m baffled as to how anyone can make bras with it. All of the 3/4″ elastic I tried was so firm that when it was under any tension at all I had difficulty taking a full breath and got sore intercostal muscles. I imagine firm 3/4″ elastic is good for larger band sizes, but it doesn’t work for me. The 5/8″ elastic from Bravo Bella has a high enough spandex content to be comfortable and hold its shape for a whole day and the width is just right.

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).

Here are the supplies I used:

  • Lower cup, cup sides, and bridge: Mercerized cotton poplin left over from my husband’s white shirt
  • Cup lining and underside of straps: Cotton lawn*
  • Upper cup on both outer cup and lining, and outer straps: 40 denier nylon tricot. Needs to be pre-shrunk.
  • Back band fabric: Power net from Porcelynne. Sadly, no longer available. This is the best power net I’ve ever had – it’s thin, but provides good support.
  • Interfacing for straps: Pellon EK130 Easy-Knit*
  • Underarm elastic: 3/8″ elastic from Bravo Bella
  • Band elastic: 5/8″ elastic from Bravo Bella
  • Neckline elastic: 3/8″ elastic from BiasBespoke on Etsy (it’s listed as 1/2″ but the actual elastic width excluding picots is 3/8″). The neckline elastic is not under much tension, so I find pretty much any elastic works there. I just used this elastic because I had some and it’s pretty.
  • Strap elastic: PE 580 3/4″ strap elastic from Sew Sassy. This is very high quality strapping elastic.
  • Strap inner padding: I used Moisture Wicking Diamond Knit (I have it in white, which appears to be no longer available). If I run out of this, I’ll probably use 1/16″ bra foam instead.
  • Strap sliders: 3/4″ Nylon covered metal sliders. I got these from a couple of different places (I think Sew Sassy and Porcelynne), and the quality was the same. I use a second set of sliders instead of rings to connect the elastic strapping to the non-stretch straps. I think in the future I’ll get silver colored sliders so I won’t have to dye them and can use them on any color bra.
  • Bridge stabilizer: I used silk organza on some of the bras and nylon sheer cup lining on the others. They both work equally well.
  • Channeling: CH909 – White Flat Bra Channeling from Sew Sassy. I like this better than any other channeling I’ve purchased, but it needs to be preshrunk really well before using it (I learned that the hard way).
  • Underwires: Flex-Lite underwires from Bravo Bella or Sew Sassy. The sizes are labeled differently on the two sites. Add 6 to the Sew Sassy Flex-Lite size to get the BravoBella size.
  • Hook and eye closures: I like these high quality three-hook sets from Porcelynn on Etsy

I’m happy with my current me-made bras, but I thought it would be nice to also have a foam cup bra for occasions when I want a smoother look. I know you can buy pre-made foam cups and cover them with stretchy fabric, but I imagine I would have to buy several different sizes of cups to find the right size, and they are not cheap. Plus I just don’t want to have to start over and learn how to make a different type of bra fit me. It finally occurred to me that since I can make a bra from scratch, I could probably alter a ready-to-wear bra to fit me, too.

I looked for a full frame bra with a foam cup. Full frame bras are kind of hard to find. Most ready-to-wear bras are partial band bras. The flexible wires I use do not work in partial band bras and the band just doesn’t stay in place as well on that type of bra, so I did not want a partial band bra. I thought I’d try ordering a bra online, so I’d at least have a larger selection to choose from. I can never find both the style and size I want in a store, so I didn’t see how purchasing online could be any worse. Plus many sellers offer free returns.

Calculating my bra size from my measurements puts me in a 32D, but I know from experience a size 32 band is way too tight, so going up a band size and down a cup size would put me in the sister size 34C. However I also know from past experience that 34C bra cups are too small for me. So I thought I’d try size 34D. I’m one of those people whose measurements don’t put me in the right size. Not that there is a ready-to-wear size that fits me.

The first bra I tried was the Hanes Ultimate T-Shirt Soft Foam Light Lift Bra*. When I first tried it on, the wires were significantly too narrow, and I did not fill out the upper part of the cups. I took out the wires and replaced them with ones that fit me. These wider wires pushed the sides of the cup outward, making the upper part of the back band too long. Rather than doing a complex alteration and taking the bra apart, I decided to just sew a dart in the band. When I put on the altered bra, the wires fit, but the cup volume was now a little too small, since the cup was pulled into a wider shape with the wider wires. The wires did not touch my chest in the center, and they poked into me on the sides. I cut some wide plush elastic and hand sewed it in place on the inside to pad the ends of the wires and cover the lump caused by the dart. This bra is now wearable, even though the fit is not perfect and it’s not as comfortable as the bras I sewed. I can wear the Hanes bra for a full day without experiencing pain, so I’m calling it a success.

I thought since the cups on the 34D were too small after changing the wire size, I would try a 34DD, but the Hanes bra was not available in that size, so I bought a size 34DD Bali One Smooth U Ultra Light Embroidered Frame Underwire Bra*. When I tried on this bra, to my utter astonishment and delight, the underwires were the perfect size. The band fit, too. However, the cups were much too large.

The cups on this bra are made from 1/16″ foam that is an even thickness and is easy to sew through. I pinned out a 1″ wide dart in each cup to see about how much I needed to take out. Then I took apart the bra, cut off 1/2″ all the way around the wireline edge of the cups, and sewed everything back together.

This alteration was almost as much work as sewing an entire bra. The bra now fits and is reasonably comfortable. I don’t really care for the shape of the cups, though. They flatten my breasts and push them out to the sides like a minimizer bra does. I don’t think that this shape is just because I altered the cups, since it looks like the same thing is happening on the model in the product photos. I’m calling this bra a success, too. I wear it more often than the Hanes bra, but less often than the bras I made.

Although I’m not officially entering, my bras fit in well with the SMYLY (Sewing Makes You Love Yourself) challenge currently going on. After making this batch of bras, for the first time in my life, I have a drawer full of supportive bras that fit. It was a ton of work to get to this point, and I’m proud of myself for finally getting this done.

Being able to wear an underwire bra is a big deal to me. I’ve always wanted the support of underwires and been jealous of other women who could wear them, but I’ve never been able to find an underwire bra that fits, so I’ve always resorted to wearing poorly fitting non-wired bras. The bands on non-wired bras always cut into me painfully on the sides, so I’ve found that a correctly fitting underwire bra is actually more comfortable than a non-wired bra. My underwire bras are just as comfortable at the end of the day as when I put them on in the morning. Yay!

The underwires take the weight of my bust off of my shoulders, so I feel so much lighter and my posture is better. Plus it no longer bothers me that I’m getting older and saggier, because when I put on one of my bras, I feel young and perky again. I look down at my chest and I’m like, “Hello, girls, nice to see you back up where you used to be!” It’s amazing how wearing a comfortable, supportive bra improves my whole outlook on life.

* Links in this post identified by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. They are links to the US Amazon site. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you).

Posted in Bra-making, Sewing

More DIY Dressmaker’s Tracing Paper

After making a double-sided tracing cloth using washable crayons, I decided to try making single sided tracing paper as well, since commercially available wax-free paper just doesn’t mark well, and professional waxed tracing paper is expensive and makes permanent marks on fabric.

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).

My initial idea was to just color on paper with washable crayons, but that seemed like too much work, so the first thing I tried was melting and diluting Crayola washable crayons* and painting the mixture onto the paper side of plastic-backed freezer paper*. Painting on melted crayon didn’t work well at all. I got thick clumps of crayon, the paper rippled, and the crayon ended up flaking off in the too thick areas.

So I went back to the idea of coloring on freezer paper with washable crayons. This worked great! Can you get any simpler than that? It wasn’t nearly as messy as trying to paint on melted crayon, and was actually faster when you count clean-up time. It took me about 10 minutes to color in a 9″ by 18″ piece of paper. You have to press firmly while coloring to get complete coverage, so my arm got a little tired (especially since I was already worn out from shoveling snow), but it was totally worth it.

You can actually use any kind of paper, by the way. I used freezer paper because I happened to have some and I thought the plastic backing would make it last longer without tearing. You can also put plastic box sealing tape on the back of any tracing paper to keep it from ripping.

My tracing paper makes excellent marks on both paper and fabric.

I tried the yellow tracing paper on dark colored fabric. The marks are a little harder to see on dark fabric, but still visible. And the marks don’t brush off!

So far the marks seem to wash out fine, but if you try this yourself, I’d recommend doing your own tests before you use it anywhere the marks might end up showing on the right side of a garment. Ironing might also set in the marks – I haven’t tested that yet, since I usually only use tracing paper for marking the stitching lines on muslins and for tracing patterns onto paper.

I have two sides of me that are constantly at odds. On the one hand, I want to have the best tool for every job, but on the other hand I also like to be frugal and make do with what I have or can get cheaply. Since I have a limited sewing budget, I end up doing some of each when it comes to sewing notions and tools.

In this case, I think my tracing paper is a win for both sides of me. It was inexpensive, I made it myself, and it works well. In fact, since I used washable crayons, the marks wash out of fabric, which makes it even more versatile than waxed tracing paper! Also a plus is that I can make it in many colors.

* Links in this post identified by an asterisk (*) are affiliate links. They are links to the US Amazon site. If you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you).

Posted in Patternmaking, Sewing
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