DIY Dress Forms

Have you ever attempted to make a dress form to replicate your body?  There are many different methods and none are quick and easy.  However, putting in the hard work can certainly be worth the effort.  Hear what Kathy Moore has to say about the dress form she constructed for her daughter, using Bootstrap Fashion's DIY pattern.

I have spent hours (easily into the high teens if not the 20’s) in the past trying to adjust my expensive dummy. Sewing this was far quicker, and quite simple. I would think anyone with experience with a pattern should have no problem. Which is good as I have 2 more to make.  This one is for my 17-year-old so I can make her year 12 formal dress. It is hard to know if it will fit (due to the number of small pieces) up until the fitting stage. Absolutely worth the money for the pattern. I am extremely happy with how it turned out, but the hints below should help.


  1. Write down exactly where you are taking the measurements. i.e. how far from the bust is the waist, how far from waist to upper hip and to lower hip. Keep this information as you need it later.
  2. Print without seam allowances. After cutting out, add your desired seam allowance. I decided I would sew mine on the overlocker/serger as it would be faster, than a sewing machine. So, when I cut my fabric I added the exact width of my overlocker seam. Do not cut out the armhole piece lining (see hint 4).
  3. When I print out PDF patterns, I don’t piece the entire piece together. I piece together and cut out as I go, much easier working with less pages at a time.
  4. I went through the instructions and wrote in the piece numbers. I then put all the pieces in the correct order that I would need to use when sewing. This makes the sewing up much quicker.
  5. I did not sew in the bust, waist and hip lines. I marked them on before stuffing. Easy to do if you choose a light fabric.
  6. Fabric – I used an old tablecloth (technically free)
  7. Interfacing – I have no idea what kind it was, but it was quite thick. After finishing I am not sure that it was needed. A medium weight and possibly even a light weight one would do.
  8. Bust Cups – be very careful with these, mark them carefully and add in an UP arrow on each piece. It may have been that my human has next to no boobs and the pieces were tiny, but it was extremely difficult to work out which way was correct.
  9. Neck and Armholes - Fitting – before sewing on neck/armhole pieces and sewing up the back, you can turn inside out and fit to your human. Adjust – mine did not need any as it fit perfectly.
  10. Neck – the foam you use must fill the cavity to the depth of the neck piece (this holds the body up). You need not cut the foam perfectly to the correct size, any jaggedy bits just get squished in (the beauty of foam).
  11. Armholes pieces – After sewing in the outer armhole piece, use a hot glue gun and glue the cardboard piece into the inside of the armhole. This seemed a lot easier than the instructions, and seems to be fine.
  12. Arms – I imagine that it would be easy to add arms to the dummy, but I didn’t try it. I may give it a try when I make mine.
  13. Inner Tube – I used a tube from a roll of fabric – it was free.
  14. When you get to the final parts of putting together you should change over to the sewing machine. I am not sure exactly when as my overlocker thread broke and I changed over to the sewing machine anyway.
  15. Tube cover – yes you use both pieces even though the pattern says ‘piece’.
  16. Installing tube cover – only kind of hard part really. But yes it does work. Even though it looks like it won't.
  17. Zips – check how long you really need the zips to be before purchasing. I purchased as per the pattern and could have easily purchased smaller (therefore cheaper) ones. Or use old ones.
  18. Stuffing
    - Replace your pillows and throw cushions they are cheaper than stuffing (technically free).
    - Have your human handy, and measure and stuff as you go.
    - Don’t overstuff - I stuffed mine as my human was not handy. When I restuffed it, I used about half of the stuffing.
    - Add in the waist, upper and lower hip marks.
    - When you stuff each section make sure you alternate on each side of the divider and front and back. Double check that all the measurements above have not been accidentally changed.
    - Pin your tape measure to the dummy (not your human) to get really accurate measurements.
    - Give a loud ‘woo hoo’ every time you check the measurement and you got the stuffing correct.
    - Constantly curse your human for having such an amazing body – this may only work if your human has no measurement over 83 cm.
  19. Cardboard base – before zipping up, I did not bother to glue the fabric strips to the cardboard it wasn’t necessary, plus it will make it easier if you have to adjust in the future.
  20. Stand – I was really lucky to have had my expensive dressmakers dummy break off the stand (there is just a bit of glue holding it together) a few weeks before I started this project. I hadn’t fixed it as yet. So I removed the broken part and presto chango I had a stand. So if you are over your purchased dummy you may want to see if it can break for you.