body double

Custom paper tape dress form

Custom paper tape dress form

When I left Apple in June, I turned my engineering focus to garment construction, which I’m sure is some reaction to being in front of a computer 10 hours a day for a decade plus. With plenty of enthusiasm, I dove deep into my first project, this cute linen wrap dress from a japanese pattern book. I’ve been sewing on and off since grade school – how hard could this be? Long story short: it was a total fail. The completed dress looked great on my sewing table: beautiful fabric, nice even gathers, neat topstitching, seams finished cleanly. But on my body, the neckline gaped and the bodice had too much ease for my liking. I spent no time fitting this pattern to my unique shape and style preferences and the result was a beautiful dress that I will never wear. 😦

Since then, I’ve been obsessed with garment fitting technique. I’ve read lots online and found a ton of great books out there. But honestly, nothing has helped me more in this effort than creating my own custom dress form. It is a bit shocking to see yourself exposed like that but it is the first step to learning about (and accepting) your body’s unique qualities. It has been eye opening to examine my RTW clothing on my form and clearly see the shoulder and back fitting problems that I’ve ignored forever. It is funny how you just get used to ill-fitting clothing. No more for me.

My dress form is made from gummed paper packaging tape. I’ve read that paper tape holds its form better than duct tape. Here is the blog post that inspired me.

After I took these pictures, I closed up the holes, stuffed her tightly with newspaper, mounted her on an old floor lamp base, and coated her with many layers of Mod Podge for extra strength. It has been 4 months now and she’s still holding up. Big thanks to Karen Barefield for sculpting this masterpiece on me!


One Comment

  1. I never thought about a body double being a brave thing to do, but now that you mention it, yes, it would be hard to have to look at a duplicate of your own body. By the way, I’ve never been able to wear a wrap-style blouse or dress due to severe gap-o-sis in the front — combination of short-waisted and flat-chested means “no wrap for me.”


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