Sunday, May 27, 2007

Introducing Bessy

Remember this little gal from the 1970's? I had one. She and my Pooh Bear were my constant companions when I was little. I LOVED them! She still reminds me of me. Bad fashion sense, red round cheeks, and all.
Well, now I have my own grown up version. My present for Mother's Day was to get help making my own paper tape dress form.

We didn't make it until this weekend due to time and material constraints.

To make the dress form, I mostly followed the instructions as per an article in SewNews: Sewing Stunt Double. I made one big change though - I wanted a dress form with legs since I don't wear dresses all that much. Weddings and interviews have been it as of late. (Although, with all the cute dresses I've seen all the sewists make this year, that may change.)

We started with a fairly large garbage bag and did the requisite shaping with duct tape. To shape the legs, DH slit the garbage back up to the crotch, and then wrapped the cut edges together around my legs.

Then we wrapped the bottom.

Lesson Learned #1: When the instructions don't work, ditch 'em!!

I hunted high and low locally for the "real" self-adhesive paper tape (not the shiny stuff). I ended up buying 12 small rolls of it online.
And after all that effort? The paper tape was great for its firmness, but it did not want to stick to anything. DH would lay some on and it would immediately start peeling back off again. He was getting very, very frustrated. I was getting very, very hot and sweaty.

Our solution? Clear packing tape. That stuff will stick to anything. We put a base layer of clear tape down, then paper tape, then clear tape, etc. and finished of with clear tape. (We also had to use some brown packing tape because we ran out of the clear stuff, but the clear worked much better.)

The down side to this method is that we didn't put as many layers of paper tape as called for and I think that effected the over all firmness of Bessy. I would like to have put more on, but both DH and I were already getting tired by the time we figured out how we wanted to proceed.

Lesson Learned #2: Crank down the AC, turn on a fan and UNLOCK your knees. After about 15 to 30 minutes in just the garbage bag and a little of the bottom wrapped, I started getting really, really hot - fainting hot. So, we cranked the AC way down (72), brought in a tower fan, and I bent my knees ever so slightly. That helped a lot.

Lesson Learned #3: OTC painkillers are our friends. I can't stand in one place for very long without my feet, knees, and especially lower back hurting. After the first 30 minutes or so, I was not feeling great at all. A couple of ibuprofen later and the world was good once again.

The bottom part took the longest to complete. It would have taken a lot less time if we had not done the legs. But I wanted legs so there ya go.

After the bottom was completed, we did the back, then the chest area, and lastly the diaphragm area. These all together took roughly a third to a half of the time it took to get the bottom done.

Lesson Learned #4: Yes, you can still breathe. Warning for the claustrophics out there. Everything was hunky dory until the last part. As soon as my breathing started getting a little constricted, I got a little panicky/anxious. Just stop for a few minutes, realize you can still breathe and that you're not going to suffocate, and soon you will be able to continue.

And here I am all wrapped up.

Then we cut her off.

Lesson Learned #5: When the instructions say to move around as little as possible, they mean it.

Bessy is pretty representative around the legs and hips, but the waist and diaphragm area are out of whack. That would be in part due my efforts to keep my lungs as expanded as possible while being taped up.

I also have either sway back or big bootie (or both) and that was not captured quite as well as I would have liked. We got enough of it though that I will be able to tell when my fabric is pooling around my lower back area.

DS is an artistic photographer with the point of view of a 6 year old (because he is one). He was completely fascinated with the inside of the dress form and decided it needed a few pics too.

Here we have Bessy with some PJ's on as proof of concept.

And finally, here she is almost ready to go to work. I have to finished the leg, neck and arm edges, stuff her and get a stand for her. I'm hoping that the stuffing will help with her tendency to buckle in the pokie-outie spots. Well see!


julia said...

Welcome to the newest member of your family. You'll love her! She looks great!

Melody said...

Your "sewing assistant" came out beautifully. You'll love it. I never thought I'd use mine as much as I do.

Janimé said...

My kids are already talking to her like she's a member of the family.

I can't wait to try her out. Pin fitting myself has been doable, but having Bessy is going to make things so much easier.

Geek Sewing said...

My ASG is having a paper taping session on June 9th and I'm one of the people taping. I've done three paper tape dressforms before, one of them my own. One of the members asked me if she could add legs to her paper tape dressform. I told her no. Well, I stand corrected. I'll point her to your blog. Thank you so much for posting so many great pictures and information. I'll definitely post a link to your blog to my ASG group.

Janimé said...

You're welcome. I'm glad to share and hope folks find at least some of what's here useful :)

I got the idea for doing legs from someone on PR. I tried to find the info again prior to making Bessy and couldn't. Seems like it was someone who also used red duct tape instead of the paper tape.