Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making of a Dress Form Part 1 of 4 - Cast Yourself

I've always wanted a custom made dress form, but one can run upwards of $800, and the cheapies sold at a local craft store are just unusable. Also, custom made is really not an exact replica of you, just measurements and generalizations of your body. But what could be better then draping over a form that's an exact copy of you!

Supplies...


  • Bulk Plaster Gauze 4in x 135 feet [at least]
  • Plastic Tub
  • Small amount of water
  • Sharp Scissors [other sites will say you need bandage scissors, really good ones are pricey, and cheap ones at a local drug store will fall apart, halfway through]
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Plastic wrap [from local supermarket]
  • Plastering assistant [human you are comfortable with]
  • Portable heater
  • Rubber bands
  • Permanent marker

Let the mummification begin...

Cut plaster roll into strips. It took about 80 - 4 x 14 and 20 - 4 x 8 inch strips to wrap me in 3 layers of plaster. I am size 2, so calculate according to your size. [Have it ready, you don't want your plastering assistant to stop and have to cut more.]

Wear a tight tee shirt. The kind that fits you in every spot, and one you don't mind parting with--it won't be so pretty after you are done with it. Also wear short tights, or regular underwear.

Stand straight. [My natural posture is to stand like a gymnast, that will not work for a good dress form. Straight as in your back straight against the wall. You didn't just do a dismount ;)].
Wrap plastic wrap from the hips [below the bum or however low you want it to go] to right under the chest. Do not wrap your chest. Why? It will flatten it and look unnatural [or like a 13 year old boy...hehehe].

Wet one strip at a time and start wrapping from the bottom up. You will need to do 3 layers. Horizontal, vertical and another horizontal. Start every new layer from the bottom. [Do not wiggle. As a matter of fact don't breathe].

The plaster will start to become colder as it dries. You will start to feel confined and very uncomfortable. Your natural reaction will be to do only 2 layers so this goes faster, but that won't be enough [the cast will fall apart in places when you try to cut it off].

The cast should feel dry to the touch. The portable heater will help speed drying and will keep you warm at the same time.

When all that's done, mark at the sides of the cast [some say to cut at the chest and back, I don't think those are good places]. Try to find the center of the mass and cut the cast in half at the sides. [While the cast dries, it attaches itself to your shirt. So your shirt will get holes when the form is cut away].

Once the cast if off you, gently put it back together, wrap it with plastic wrap around the waist, use a rubber band around the neck and arms, stand it [do not lay] and let it dry for 24 hours.

time....We had to do two casts. The first one didn't come out as planned. Posture and chest came out deformed. It really looked nothing like me. It also took about 3.5 hours from start to finish. And my back was killing me since I stood like a gymnast the entire time. For the second cast, we knew what went wrong and corrected all the issues. It also took "only" 1 hr 20 min to wrap and another hour for drying.

tips...Several smaller cut strips work better around the armhole and neck. Try to cast on a non-damp day, as the plaster will dry faster.

options....with or without arms. Without is true to a real form. An arm can be made separately.



23 comments:

  1. this looks crazy! i can't belive you made 2! that's dedication...on your and your assistant's side :)

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  2. This is beyond resourceful and cool. I'm sure most people have no idea they can make their own (literally) dress form using these methods. This is valuable info. Kudos to you guys (the model for standing in that position for that long and the assistant for putting up with what was probably a very cranky model :)

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  3. you actually did this wow that is sick. How long did it take that's cool. I broke my arm when i was 12 and had one of those plaster casts on. Try having one on for 3 months. My arm was very stinky and skinny when i took it off.

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  4. SO cool- and quite helpful! Thanks, I'm gonna give it a go :D

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  5. great idea! i actually want to try doing this myself, but im curious, was it hard to cut near your underarms? would you recommend plastering with or without the sleeves? thanks a lot for your time, as well as this inspiring manual!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John! It wasn't difficult, but you have to be careful not to snip your own skin. I definitely would say it's better without the arms, then it's more of a true dress form. Also the arm can be made out of muslin and batting at a later day and attached/detached when you need it. Hope this helps :)

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  6. Getting ready to do mine around the first of the year. How would you suggest wrapping the bust for a large busted woman? Small short strips?

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    Replies
    1. @BillAndLynne, i would still follow the directions above and use plastic wrap. i would definitively wear a bra that's not padded, that gives a good shape. and do not wrap tight, because that flattens the chest out and will distort how the form will look. Good Luck! :)

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  7. Thank you for answering so quickly! I should have made myself more clear...there has to be a different way of putting on the bandages. I don't think simply wrapping will work since the bust protrudes out which would indicate a need to accommodate that protrusion and wrapping would not work in that instance. Also, to be true to the form, I would think that a criss cross string would need to be placed between the bust to allow for accurate shape. Perhaps if somebody with a large bust who is reading this can tell me how you accomplished this, I would greatly appreciate it.

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  8. I see. In my instructions I cut plaster roll into strips. It took about 80 - 4 x 14 and 20 - 4 x 8 inch strips to wrap me in 3 layers of plaster. So you are making horizontal and vertical layers, not just wrapping it around you body. It's a lite of trial and error, I am not really sure how you would go about it. But how you use the plastic wrap is what ultimately give you the shape the plaster will take.

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  9. Hi,

    I love your instructions and while they've been tremendously helpful I do have a question: How on earth do you get the cast off of you? Did you actually just use normal scissors? Because I would reeeeeally like to avoid bleeding :D

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    Replies
    1. Hi Eva, I really did use scissors. Once the cast dries on you, you will be able to have a small amount of wiggle room. So when your casting partner starts to cut the cast at your sides in halves, he/she will have to be careful, but you can suck it all in and slightly move your body to the side that's not being cut. Hope this helps! :)

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  10. Please use bandage scissors. Much safer!

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    Replies
    1. Of course use at your own risk but...unless you use supper expensive/good quality bandage scissors, the ones that are sold at a drug store will not cut through 3 layers of plaster. I used them on the 1st cast, and all it did was crumble the edges plaster and then finally the bandage scissors broke apart.

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    2. Hey, thanks. I was asking because I had no idea where to get bandage scissors. But now my sister (who will probably do the casting) said she'll ask a friend who works in a hospital ward where they put casts on, so I'll keep my fingers crossed... And if she cuts me, at least she's a doctor :D

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  11. I've seen a method that has you cut strip of thin cardboard (like cereal box thickness) and tape it down the center of your back. Then you cut the form over the strip and it protects your skin from the scissors.

    I wonder if you can do this without using plastic? I've read several reports where people became very ill after being wrapped in plastic for so long, including one woman who passed out and vomited. I think her husband nearly had a heart attack too! Can you just do it over the tee shirt? Also, what about a pants form? I desperately need both kinds!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, you can definitely do it right over the tee, but make sure that it fits you snugly, otherwise you will get bups. And remember it will be cold and wet, so try to do it in a warm room.

      I haven't done the pants, but I am sure the same methods can be applied.

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  12. Why do we need a plastic tub? I don't see where it's used in the instructions.

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    Replies
    1. you need the tub to dip the plaster strips in water and wet them. You will need this tub later to mix the paper mache concoction.

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  13. I tried this and just could not get the cast to dry!!! I'm a large lady, about a size 22. This is about the third time I've tried this now. I really need a form for my body but going through all this and it not working is just heartbreaking. What am I doing wrong

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  14. What a wonderful and complete instruction! What a treat!
    I simply had to mention your series in my own blog. Here is the link:

    http://marimortem.blogspot.com/2013/04/creepy-crafty-crusades-mortems-favorite.html

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  15. good posting,the styles ideas were impressive to me,similar ideas i have is to cut down through the middle gap but that often cause much things than i expected,like those ready made ones on http://www.angelweddingdress.com/,,,ty^^again for the posting on reminding me of that..really thx

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  16. stukadoor-nederlandYour blogs are easily accessible and quite enlightening so keep doing the amazing work guys.

    ReplyDelete

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