Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Making of a Dress Form Part 2 of 4 - Papier-mâché Form

Warning...not for the faint of heart, this is very time consuming.


[from previous entry]
  • Cast
  • Plastic wrap
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Plastic tub
  • Shims
  • Cord

Fill the plastic tub with paper pulp [it will come pressed together, so make sure to break it up]. Pour the wallpaper paste over the pulp and mix it [I think to minimize cost, papier-mâché mixture can be substituted. I can't vouch for the outcome, however, as I didn’t try it]. Mix until it is a nice, moistened, dough-like consistency.
Line your cast with plastic wrap.

Start applying the new mixture to the cast, pressing to make sure it flattens evenly.

Create a 1/2-3/4 inch lip at the edge.

Let it dry [preferably in the sun]. This could take up to 2 weeks to completely heal!!! [You will know it’s dry when it’s rock solid]

Next...Papier-mâché mixture
  • Water
  • All purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Newspaper strips
  • Paint brush
  • Container to mix

Make an even water-to-flour mixture. 1 cup of water to 1 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon of salt. [In the end I used about 8 cups of flour/water.]

After the form is completely dry, line it with two layers of papier-mâché by brushing on the flour mixture, layering it with newspaper, then another layer of flour. One layer horizontally, one vertically. [This might seem excessive, but you want to make sure your form doesn’t fall apart after it’s taken it out of the cast] Let it dry.

Carefully take the completely dry form out of the cast. Join the mâché halves with white glue spread thickly along the widened edges, and tie them together firmly. Slide shims under the cords to tighten them as the glue dries. You might have to apply some pressure, as the half might not come together as well as expected. You can carefully force them together as close as possible without breaking them.

While the glue is somewhat dry, layer the inside seams of the form with more papier-mâché. This will secure the seams, and you won't need to reapply any glue.
Once the glue and interior mâché dries, take the cord and shims off.

Use some sandpaper to even out the edges and imperfections [in case you moved around white casting yourself]. Smooth the surface texture by spreading more mâché over the cracks, side seams and shoulders and build up any area that’s uneven.

Cut out 3 circles: 1 for a neck opening, 2 for arm holes [they might all be different, so measure each separately].
Place the neck circle on the opening and mâché over it. Leave the arm holes open. We will put them together after the stand is ready. That’s coming soon...

Ideas...You could also try filling your cast with Urethane Liquid Foam. It is not any more expensive than buying two buckets of wallpaper paste alone. But, you have only 45 seconds to pour it, and I imagine the cast is ruined after it's been used, so I am not sure I would go with it. But I'd love to hear if anyone does try it.


  1. okay pardon me for my ignorance is the purpose of this, to make a Manikin that is your exact size for making dresses.

  2. Where did you find the paper insulation pulp i can't seem to find it

  3. I purchased it at Lowe's. It would be in the building materials section, with siding, but if you ask someone in the store for it, they will point you int he right direction. I updated the supplies list to link to the actual product, above.

  4. Amazing. Thank you so much for the time, effort and detailed instructions. Yours looks beautiful! Can't wait to get my materials together and make my own!

  5. After the paper pulp dries, can you pin into it? Or is it rock solid?

    1. You can absolutely pin into it, it's not rock solid, but it's not soft.

  6. Thanks for your tutorial, Lulush, it's very helpful! I was a little confused about posture; I'd think it's best to stand naturally so your clothes hang correctly. I was wondering whether it might be possible to use the cast itself as the form, much like a duct tape form. Do you think that would work? I realize it would add to your dimensions a little, but I wonder whether it would be smooth enough to work with, especially if you cover it with a tee shirt or something. You could pin onto the covering, I think?

  7. Forgot to ask whether you or anyone did a pants form. I need that most of all!!

    1. Hi! What I meant by my posture is that naturally I arch my back, and when the form came out, it's really not a good way to drape over. So standing straight is the best thing.
      As for using the cast as a form, theoretically you could, but I think there are several problems with that. One, the cast is actually bigger then you are, bc you breathed when it was drying on you, that's coasted it to expand it quiet a bit. And two, it's very fragile, especially it's edges, so no matter what you will need to reinforce it internally with something, and I am not sure what. It you don't and just cover it with fabric, when you push and put puns in it, it might start to collapse onto itself. But of course it's just my opinion :)
      Good luck!

  8. Hello Lulush!
    Thank you so much for your tutorial! c:
    I'm unable to get the Paper insulation pulp you used, cuz I live in a different country... could I substitute it with paper pulp? I'm also wondering whats the ratio of paper pulp to wallpaper paste?
    Thank you c: !

  9. (oops, I meant, any kind of ordinary paper pulp)

  10. The wallpaper paste that is linked is not still on the website. Did you use quart or gallon container?

  11. I live in a wet area, as this isn't sealed or painted could it absorb moisture and crumble or go mouldy


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