Today – we finish our Bootstrap Dress form! Yes, you heard right!
First, I want to thank all of you who’ve commented and followed – and texted me through Instagram and Facebook. After I hit “publish” on this post, I will make sure I have responded to all comments thus far posted. But remember, if you don’t hear from me – email me! The squeaky wheel, and all that!
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.
As for this tutorial series, there are four posts. In my first post, I covered how to take your measurements and record your body build, generate your pattern, and gather your supplies. In the second post, we prepared our fabrics, cut, and marked out pieces. In my last post, we constructed our shell.
Today, we construct the inner support, stuff the form, and mount it!
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!
We are beginning on the page that is headed with:
Pin the Neck Top to the Neck, matching notches and stitch
Sewing the neck top, to the neckline is a pretty easy stitch. You want to make sure there are no bumps or ripples, then trim and grade well. This seam is highly visible on the form.
Now it’s time to sew the armhole covers to the armhole! We’ll be sewing the outer armhole closed first, and then adding the inner armhole piece and inserting our cardboard support. The armhole covers are such that I find the markings designating “front” and “back” to be very helpful here:
Pinned, checked, and ready for sewing:
After sewing the armhole closed, I like to trim and grade well here. Again, this is a highly visible seam on the finished product:
Now, we get to baste the stabilizer armhole covers to the inside of the form, and slip in the cardboard as we go! I found I could easily shift the cardboard and finish up the stitch by machine.
We are now on the page headed by:
Above, you can see I made sure to secure and trim the top edge of the sleeve. Your piece may have been cut on the fold as per instructions, but mine was not (to conserve yardage). Either way is fine.
At this point, I like to insert the sleeve and make sure it slides in smoothly and easily, but without a lot of slack:
It’s time to carefully cut the lower, unsewn edge of the pipe sleeve into fringe, 1″ to 3/4″. This fringe will be used to secure to the bottom cardboard structure and help stabilize the form when it’s mounted.
Now it’s time for our inner support pieces! These pieces confused me at first, but they are simply a stabilizing structure to keep the form from twisting and sagging. We’re affixing the straight parts of these support pieces, to the pipe sleeve seam allowances; and affixing the curved edges of these pieces, the seam allowances at front and center back.
Sandwiching the pipe sleeve seam allowance in between the two support pieces for the back pieces, we stitch together right on the seamline.
We then flip those front pieces out away from the sleeve, and repeat the above process for the back support pieces.
Looking good! You can give the assembly a light press, if you like.
Now it’s time to stitch vertical lines through these curved stabilizing pieces – not the sleeve! – to add more structure. Shown below, in a chartreuse thread:
Now as shown in instructions, lay the pattern pieces on the inner structure and make sure your notches correspond (top photo on the page that’s first text reads: “Place the pattern pieces on top of the correlate details…” and yes, that’s a typo on that page).
Now here’s a bit of a tricky part – but only if you’ve topstitched those center front and back seams. We are going to pin those curved front and back raw edges of the inner support, to the corresponding center front, and center back seams. This means I open up those center seams, and means I’ll be sewing four seams in total.
Pin and sew slowly!
Once you’ve determined your support is installed firmly and with all notches met, it’s time to set the shell aside and work on the neck. The neck piece is cut from your 3″ sponge (or stacked sponges secured with a light adhesive). I use an electric carving knife to cut my foam. It doesn’t have to be perfect!
It is oddly satisfying to install the neck here! Push it right up into the finished neck top.
After inspecting your neck top to make sure everything looks good, set aside the assembly and pick up the four base pieces. Pin front base pieces together, and back base pieces together, right-sides together. Stitch along the straight edge and around the pipe opening.
Clip and grade:
Now, install your zipper. Hand-basting is always a good idea for a zipper installation. This zipper won’t show to the public much, but you do want an accurate install as the base size should match the dress form’s raw edge circumference.
Before installing the zipper, I switched to a zipper foot:
Now, we are in our last bit of stitching!
We are installing the dress form to the base, making sure we do not stitch in any puckers or pulling. I sewed with the base against the feed dogs, but you might find it easier to flip the assembly with the body of the form against the machine. Again – stitch slowly to make sure things go together smoothly.
Can you believe it? We are all finished with our sewing!
Now comes the fun part. “Fun”, she says – the stuffing! This takes a bit of time, but not as much as you might think. Stuff firmly, using small amounts to reduce lumpiness. Have your tape measure close by to make sure you stuff to the right Bust, Waist, and Hip measurements. Make sure to stuff the breasts firmly.
Can you see above, that on the bust of the half-stuffed form, I have a few puckers? This is where I hadn’t fused enough when I interfaced. Fortunately, it is easy to re-fuse here. Have a friend insert their hand and push the stuffing up into the form. Use steam to re-fuse any ripples out, being careful not to steam-burn yourself or your friend!
After your form is stuffed, insert the cardboard base support (as per instructions), and haul out your fringe to glue or tape to the cardboard from. Then use the oval holes to continue to stuff until the form is firm.
Some people will not want to mount the form on a stand; for completeness’ sake, I went ahead and did so. We bought an inexpensive stand on Amazon and cut it to size (an adjustable stand would be ideal, as it’s rather difficult to make sure to get your height perfect, when doing this part!). You notice we cleverly used the PVC pipe flange end, to hold the PVC inner pipe, and we stabilized this flange piece with a few bolts.
Here is my model, standing alongside their form!
So there we have it! BOOM!
I hope you’ve enjoyed putting together your dress form as much as I have!
Thank you for all your participation. And please leave any comments you have – or post links to your form! And enjoy your new studio’s tool!