Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Making a custom tailors-dummy

Meet Winifred. My new custom tailors dummy.  I made her last week and I love her.  

She is my body double. (...almost!) 
She's a little less lumpy than me in real life and just a weeny-bit smaller on the hips but she's pretty much me. She didn't take too long to make and didn't need much in the way of materials but blimey it was a messy day! 

A couple of years ago I had a fun day with Emma from MummyLovesLily making a gummed paper version of a tailors dummy. 
It was pretty good at the time but the paper versions are very hard to the touch and difficult to pin into. You can't  alter them either. Well you can add to them but you can't take away and since (happily) I'd lost a bit of weight it no longer worked for me as tailors dummy. 
 So welcome Winifred!

Gummed paper dummys

To make Winifred I started with a polystyrene body form courtesy of Ebay and at £27 (stand and all) I thought it was a bargain.  I brought a size 16-18 model that was very close to my ownbust and hip measurements. The waist however must have been modelled on a very trim size 16-18 waist measurement and not a 4 kid, menopausal, cookie pooch carrying one. But that was fine. I could add inches as required. (Quite a few actually!)

The bust line was much to pert too. A good inch higher than mine and narrower so adjustments were needed here. A set of bra inserts readjusted the boobs perfectly. 

Back and underarm fat were non existent on naked Winifred so I added some rolls.

Her bum profile was too flat so I padded her cheeks. 
 I am so pleased I saved all those quilting offcuts and samples pieces I made! 
 (The pins kept the pads in place until the glue dried)

To get a more rounded profile for the bum cheeks I layered the quilted sections feathering out the edges. I paid no attention to being perfect here just rough cut the shapes and glued them together.

Finally after a several hours and a few cups of tea I was ready to mummify and even-out those quilted additions. She then got skin in the form of very tight stretch lycra cover (supplied with model). I needed hubby's help here to stretch the cover down the body.  I won't elaborate on what he said or did to Winfred at this stage but he did remind me of Sid James in a "Carry-on" film.

I used leftover batting strips to wrap over the quilted cookie pooch and fat rolls!

Once covered I used narrow ribbon to mark out the bust, waist and hip etc..  
The black waist marker by the way is a standard pattern waistline, the red line below that goes off at an angle is my actual waistline.  I have a foreword pelvic tilt so my front waistline is a good inch and a half below my back waist.  

There was a lot of measuring and looking in the mirror, critical body assessments, protestations (surely that tape measure is wrong!)  gulps and laughs during the day followed by a round of applause as the family all agreed Winifred had a body like mine.  It didn't seem right to leave her naked though so I dressed her -- and look the dress fit her!  Don't you love those flapper buttons (c/o The Eternal Maker

After I made my custom dress form my friend told me about the newly released  Fitting Essentials Customise your dress form Craftsy class. Wish I'd known before I went solo but then again I think I did ok on my own. If you want more detailed instructions on how to make your form though I think it would probably be a good class to buy. 
Its on offer at the moment too !

Happy sewing!


  1. Amazing and oh how I would love one of these! Thank you for posting this :-) x

  2. Such fun story ! I am sure that you and winifred will have happy times creating outfits that fit you perfectly ! Cecilia

  3. That sounds excellent - I hadn't realised you could get polystyrene ones.


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