One of the best pieces of equipment you can own as a dressmaker or costumier is a mannequin or tailor's dummy. You can buy them in a specific size or you can get an adjustable one. Women's bodies however are made in all shapes and sizes and the mannequin just can't always get it close enough.
I create a lot of patterns using my mannequin rather than buying paper ones as I feel that there is a lot more freedom, and by padding out the mannequin I can make anything for any shape.
Before we start you're going to need the following measurements: bust, waist, hips, cross chest front (from side seam to side seam across the bust) and cross chest back (from side seam to side seam across the back). The cross chest measurement is particularly important for busty ladies as you will need more padding in the front than the back.
Things you'll need:
- Wadding by the metre/yard - any thickness.
- Tape Measure.
- Dressmaking Pins
- First thing you want to do is to cut the wadding into strips between 10cm to 20cm wide depending on how much padding you need.
- The next step is to adjust the size of your mannequin as close to the measurements as possible (of course this is only if you have an adjustable dress form).
- I don't trust the measurements my mannequin tells me so I like to measure it myself. By taking this measurement you can also compare it to the size you need it to be, and then you can begin padding it out.
- I also measured the cross chest front and cross chest back of my mannequin and decided that I needed to pad out the bust at the front only.
- To do this I took a strip of wadding and pinned it across the front and then measured the cross chest front again.
- It wasn't quite enough yet so I took another strip of wadding and pinned this on top.
- The bust measurement is now perfect, I checked the waist and it was already the right size but I need to pad the hips out a little.
- This time I took a strip of wadding and pinned it all the way around the hips.
- Basically what you are doing is creating curves by adding or removing the wadding where its needed according to your measurements.
- Next we need to cover up the wadding, this is what I like to call the "second skin"; so get your lycra and pin it at the top of the mannequin.
- Now you want to pull the lycra tight around the mannequin and pin it in place.
- Measure again to make sure everything is the right size and you're done!