We've now finished the most tedious parts of the construction, which were making and refining an accurate body-double fabric and cardboard form. From here on, we'll introduce hardware and some simple tools and put everything together.
Stage 7 -Measuring The Mounting Height
No photos for this stage. Essentially, we determined the height of the mannequin. It had no head, so it wasn't as straightforward as matching my actual height to the height of the stand.
I taped paper to a wall, and had the husband mark on it, from the floor, the heights of my shoulder, base of neck, waist and hip. We used a spirit level for accuracy. Then we measured off these marks using a regular measuring tape and made corresponding markings on the stand. These allowed me to position the torso at the right point on the stand so that the final mannequin would be the same height as I was. Boring, and easy.
And then we were ready to put it all together!
Notice that the cardboard oval base has been ripped off the cardboard skeleton - it had to be done to mount the torso internally on the stand. It gets hot-glued back on later.
Stage 8 - Preparing the Stand
I had to wait a long time to find the right stand. At first I thought I'd make one from scratch (so daft), with the fancy cabriole legs nailed?glued? to a banister post. Asked around for ideas, and everyone thought I was bonkers. The husband- always the champion of the practical- said, "how about one of those big ice cream pails filled with cement with a stick in it?" Verrrrrrrrrrry funny, I don't think. Eventually decided to adapt something ready-made that looked similar, and began looking covetously at other people's hat stands.
Several months later, I finally found a solid oak lampstand at a garage sale for $2, and pulled out all the electrical wiring from its hollow shaft. I had a stand and it was beautiful! We were back in business!
The lamp post was too short to reach all the way up to the height of my neck, so I filed down a dowel and stuck it into the shaft. I had a very feeble initial plan (which I didn't trust) for securing the torso to the stand so I emailed Katie for ideas. Katie is a whiz with wood and crafts in general and the nicest person in the world, so she shot back several diagrams to help. Thank you, Katie! Let's fast forward over the experimenting and burning my finger on the hot glue etc - here is the schematic diagram for what eventually worked:
This lamp stand came with a mid-height table dividing the post of the lamp stand into two halves. I threw out the table and filed a short dowel to fit the two halves together. This allowed the mannequin to rotate, which was useful but not especially sturdy. I eventually glued it permanently stuck.
This is my neck finial. It can probably be made from scratch, but I was lazy so I bought mine for about $7 here.
I drilled a hole in it to fit over the dowel sticking out of the neck. Also added a side screw to secure it.
The neck opening was stuffed to size with foam.
And the mannequin was ready for her outer layer.
Stage 10- The Fancy Fabric Layer
The fabric for this layer was home-dec weight which, because of its loose-ish weave, had a very nice drape and stretch. At the same time, its thickness allowed it to smooth over the remaining creases in the canvas layer. This outer layer was open at the side seam and the lower half of one armscye. Once it was in place on the canvas form, these openings were ladder-stitched shut.
The bottom fabric oval was then ladder-stitched to the bottom edge of the "garment", everything first having been stretched taut over the canvas form.
neck area - this was made as close to my actual neck height as possible - useful for fitting turtlenecks and other high-necked garments later.
Because I was in uncharted territory with this method, it took me about a year from conception to finish. Looking back, the fun was in the brainstorming for workable techniques for each stage. I imagine that it shouldn't take you quite as long - once you have a workable basic block/sloper (or a very well-fitting commercial pattern with a jewel neckline), you should be all set to go!
Now for some links to other ways to make mannequins and dress forms.
If you make a mannequin, upload it to the flickr sharing group (also accessible from my sidebar) so we can all see!