A tailoring dummy is very useful for tailoring. One that exactly fits your measurements is even more useful. Since you can find everything on the internet, it's not hard to find instructions for making a tailoring dummy from old t-shirts and duct tape. You can order instructions from Leanna but she's also got a few anecdotes online. At Threads Magazine is an overview of the various kinds of home-made dummy. We've also discussed this in the Hobbyschneiderin forums (German). Here are my tips and advice.
After using my dummy for a few months, I've found that the design with short "sleeves" is bad. It may look nicer (Venus of Milo, anyone?), but if you sew a lot of close-fitting tops or dresses that are pulled over the head, you'll find that the seams are always close to ripping when trying to get a garment over the arms. So, I cut off the arms (not as far as I'd have like to, because of the hanger), and made a separate arm, using just plastic wrap and packing tape. I taped my left arm, cut it out (ouch!) and stuffed the taped version, then clothed it in a couple of odd thigh-high stockings. If you want to see how a sleeve looks, you can either just try it by itself in there, or attach the arm to the dummy. And that's what it looks like!
- 2 old long t-shirts, or 1 old t-shirt an an old pair of shorts and plastic wrap
- 2 - 3 rolls of duct tape
- a strong wooden or plastic coat hanger
- a broomstick of about your body length or a thick strong cardboard tube
- stuff for filling - cuddly toy stuffing, newspapers, old plastic bags...
- a stand - for broomsticks a stand for huge parasols, for cardboard tubes a mike stand, or a christmas tree stand if it's the right season ;)
- eddings, scissors, a patient person for wrapping, maybe an old bra and "stuffing" for that
If you have 2 t-shirts, you make one really long dress kind of thing from it. Or you just wear the t-shirt and shorts. A good bra is said to help keep the bust in shape (not in my case). A trip to the loo, and then let the patient person wrap you with duct tape, a complete wrapping to about 10 cm past the hips horizontally, one vertically. The t-shirt will bunch up really high. Don't wrap so tightly that the victim faints! If you wrap the arms to have arm stumps (which may annoy you later), take care that you don't wrap too much skin. Make a backing for tape in the neck area with plastic wrap or a sleeve from the second t-shirt.
Once the victim has benn wrapped twice, you can mark the waist. Make sure to measure how far it is from the floor to make the dummy the right height later on! Then cut up the tape and the t-shirt carefully, trying not to cut the bra too.
Now the patient person may go have a coffee while the victim can finally do something herself!
Tape the coat hanger to the broom stick or cardboard tube. Use this to strengthen the shoulders in the dummy. Tape the dummy back closed and stuff, taking care to keep the "stem" always in the middle and to keep to the contours of the dummy. Tape a piece of cardboard at the lower opening. Admire the dummy, and check the measurements.
You can reduce width by wrapping tightly with tape, and add width by stuffing more. If the bust was pressed too much, an old bra stuffed with tights helps (on the dummy, stupid!). In order to cover the ugly tape, you can clothe the dummy in 2 old tight t-shirts.
And if you put it in a parasol stand, it's very stable and you can turn it around! If the broomstick is too thin, you can wrap it with newspaper or tape... mmmh, tape ;)