I barely have my toe in this dress form and I can already tell it’s going to be great!
Last post, I covered how to take your measurements and record your body build, generate your pattern, and gather your supplies. Today, I will be covering fabric preparation, cutting, and marking.
The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting
A recap: Bootstrap’s dress forms are custom-drafted patterns that you generate, sew, and pack, then mount on a stand. They come with an inner sleeve and support structure, and include cardboard and foam to bolster the base, arm, and neck. Bootstrap offers two versions: a misses size, and a plus size. They are both sewn by an identical process. Both forms correct for posture, shoulder shape, belly protuberance, and buttocks shape. There are also additional measurements you can take to customize the form: neck circumference, shoulder width, bust height, front length, back length, and back width.
If you are just now finding this series, you can find out how to generate the pattern and collect supplies in my first post.
So let’s get started!
Today, we are preparing our fabrics (by prewashing and fusing), cutting, and marking. This is part of the process of sewing I used to dislike. But now, I really enjoy it. It gives me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the pattern.
So first, I cut out all eighteen pieces of my paper pattern.
In this case, I labeled how many of each piece I want to cut out (note there is an error on the PATTERN PIECES page of the instructions: under piece #15 “Back Inner Support”, we want to cut out two). Two images down, I also prepared a schematic so you can tell how many pieces, and of what medium, you will be cutting.
This is important: if you plan on topstitching your center front and center back seamlines, you will likely want to add a larger seam allowance to these seams. This is especially true if you aren’t sure if you can sew an exact 3/8″ seam.
Now, we need to determine how much main/self-fabric to cut. We will need to interface all of these pattern pieces. You want to take the pieces in the top section “CUT FROM SELF-FABRIC (INTERFACED)”, and lay them out on your self fabric. In the schematic below, I’ve kept the orientation along lengthwise grain. The bottom two pattern pieces are cut from cardboard so grain does not matter. Here is a PDF if you want to download and print this guide, and make notes.
[ PDF link ]
Shown below, my woven interfacing. As per the pattern’s instructions, you want to pre-shrink all fabrics. You may want to pre-treat the interfacing too. Battles rage over the issue of interfacing pre-treatment! I always say, “follow the manufacturer’s instructions”.
My thirteen year old son fused all my self fabric for me! What a doll. This process takes a bit of time. Make sure to get a very good fuse, aligning the grain of the interfacing with the grain of the fabric!
Once your self yardage is fused properly, it’s time to fold, pin or weight, and cut! This part gets so exciting! In general, for this pattern it’s a good idea to leave the paper pattern pieces pinned to the fabric pieces even after cutting, and you’ll see why in a moment.
There are many notches in this pattern – to help you line things up beautifully. I clipped 1/8″ into the seam allowance for all notches.
Now let’s talk about those awesome horizontal lines at bust, underbust, waist, and hip! They not only will help with fitting issues – they look pretty swanky on the dress form! I marked mine immediately, using a tracing wheel without a tracing medium, and very firm pressure. This makes a near-invisible line on the fabric – but depending on your eyesight, you may want to use a tracing medium. If you plan to re-use this pattern, tape these areas with clear tape before you use the wheel.
I then went over these faint lines with some white chalk:
I set aside all my pieces, with the paper pinned to each. The armhole cover will have two self fabric pieces, and two interlining pieces:
Once we’ve cut our self fabric pieces, it’s time to cut our interlining. This interlining and sleeve, forms the inner structure to keep the from stable. The interlining pieces – front and back supports, and the pipe sleeve, are all cut from sturdy interlining fabric.
When it comes to the pipe sleeve, there are several marks for sleeve width depending on the diameter of your pipe. My pipe is 1 1/2 inches, which corresponds to 3.8 cm. I cut a sleeve piece from the 4 cm width, by tearing my fabric along the grain. Don’t worry too much about this right now, because when we get to sewing up this sleeve we will be checking for fit. You mostly do not want to cut a sleeve that is too narrow!
Cardboard times! We are cutting the two pieces without seam allowances – the base support and armhole cardboard (17 and 18). I elected to trace using carbon paper, and cut with a fresh razor blade.
Make sure to cut and mark the armhole cardboard as mirror images. I suggest doing them one at a time, rather than in layers:
Shown below – all of my pieces! Cardboard pieces are at top-left, and interlining at top-right. All the remaining pieces are interfaced self fabric. The two neck pieces – the circular top and the neck itself – only have one copy per paper piece.
So there we have it! Great job!
Next up, we begin sewing! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here!
This is SUCH a cool idea! I’ve always wanted a dress form but a standard one won’t work for me because of my long torso and low (according to a “normal” woman – pshhh) bust. Plus the cost is prohibitive. I’m totally going to do this!
I love this idea and can’t wait to order it and get started.
Good tips here Kelly. TY. I need to get my rear in gear and get going on this….but I have to fuse the interfacing to the face fabric..♀️ And of course, when ordering the pattern, I forgot to check that little box that said “add seam allowances” dumb and dumber..although it dies give we the alternative of adding a wider seam allowance than recommended…still thinking about that as it has pros and cons..
I am having so much fun! I hope you do too.
Any seam allowance is fine, although you will want to sew exactly. But don’t worry, as during the stuffing process you measure the bust, underbust, waist and hip to make sure you don’t over- and under-stuff.
The fusing doesn’t take quite as long as I’d feared. Since we are making a body double, it isn’t as much fabric as making a garment!
I just discovered your posts via Dawn’s thread on PR (though I know your blog, haven’t check it in a while). These patterns attracted me when they first came out. So happy for this series. I have had great results with bodices and dresses, but not with the trousers or jeans.
I’m going to save these posts as PDF since work is too busy lately for me to tackle the form right now. Thank you for doing this!
Hello there Arielle! Thank you for your comment.
I subscribed to the blog and never got an email for part 2. I read on a Facebook board you finished the dress form. I found part 2 but not a part 3. Is there one?
It looks like your subscription didn’t go through. I added you manually. You should receive emails from here on out. Also, if you are ever in doubt, you can go to this link to find ALL posts in the series: https://kelly.hogaboom.org/tag/bootstrap-dress-form-tutorial/.
The next post is going up in about fifteen minutes!