I used to own a sewing dress form. It was one of those mass produced numbers you can adjust to fit your size and height. I fiddled with the knobs on the bust, but the waist would shift. I would widen the hips, but the rear would shift out of whack. It was a good guideline for garment fitting but, it did not adjust to fit MY body. I sold it to someone on Craigslist. She could use it more than I, and I was happy to get rid of it.
I continued to sew without a form and did okay until I recently lost about 25 pounds. I was able to cut and sew a pattern from the big four US companies and know it would fit based on history. Since losing weight, I have found it difficult to determine the correct size to cut and sew. My mind sometimes gets stuck on the larger size despite the objective data of my measurements. It occurred to me that a dress form would come in handy for tissue fittings and adjustments as I went along. That said, I couldn't see purchasing another like the one I had.
I did some research on other brands and types of forms that provide a more realistic replica of ones' body, but the cost was prohibitive. I did some Pinterest looking and found paper tape, duck tape and plaster cast D.I.Y options. After reading a multitude of methods, I did not find any one that suited my needs. Some were armless or legless, options that did not allow for sleeve or pant fittings. Others were not pin-able, or durable to last long term. Some instructions omitted key steps or were lacking visuals that I thought necessary for my success.
I made a list of key features I wanted in my form and decided to design a form to suit my needs.
- It would have arms for sleeve fittings
- It needed to be more than standard torso only, or "one-way" dress forms
- It would have hips and legs for lower body garment fittings for pants, shorts, swimwear, etc.
- It would have a stand for dresses, but be easily removable to fit lower body garments.
- It would be an exact replica of my body
- It would be pin-able for draping and alterations
- It would be fairly easy to make and could be done in a weekend or two
Here is B.I.R.A in my Passport Dress
Here I am in the same dress!
Here she is wearing a pair of jeans and my Anna's Garden Fitted Tunic.
Here I am in the same garment!
Pants can be fitted from the hanging position
Or Shorts can be fitted on the stand. B.I.R.A is wearing my Cynthia Rowley overlap shorts.
I have documented the creation of B.I.R.A in a 21-page pictorial digital PDF download. It is available for sale in My Etsy store.
It is also available on Craftsy.