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Step I

Well, let's get started.  I highly recommend the plastering of the dress form be done outside.  Step 1, however, not so much...

Step 1

NOTE: This process must be done with two people.

Dress in leotards, or just underwear, but remember, the more you wear, the wider the form.  Also, remember to wear a good bra.  I did wear a very tight thin tank top which I cut with the form and used to shape my shoulders, underarms and back.

Next, decide on how you will use the dress form, and what areas with which you will need to be very careful.  For instance, I make a lot of pants,  so the dress form was started lower for that purpose.  But, because of my height,  I have a slightly longer back and wider shoulder area, that also required special attention.

Once you have decided how you will use the dress form, start wrapping.  With both the saran wrap and the duck tape I pulled very tightly in order to give me a little room for building, and contouring the dress form, yet still have it end up close to my size.

Using all the width of the saran wrap, carefully begin from under your rear and in a circular, horizontal, motion, in one piece, go up around your body to just under your arms.  

Up until this point you are pulling horizontally, now, from the top of your chest to the top of your back, pull vertically over the shoulder.  The saran wrap is too wide for your shoulder so just cut away the excess before applying the duck tape.  

The process requires precise as you wrap. As you are pulling the saran wrap out,  make sure that very few, if any, lumps show.  (Of course I am talking about lumps from the saran wrap,  you're lumps are your lumps--embrace them--an accurate dress form will help you work around them.)  

Try to layer duck tape right at the edge of the previous row to avoid bulk.
(see below)

Next, do the same with the duck tape.  Wrap the tape in the same manner as the saran wrap, horizontally first, and then vertically over the shoulders.  

 In wrapping, as you are pulling tightly, you will also be trying to build the edge of the strips of duck tape together so that it forms a solid piece, but, try to do this as close to the edge of the previous row to avoid bulk.

 When done, I cut up the front and right through my tank top.

With the dress form off, I re-taped the cut area, and stuffed the form with tight balls of newspaper to help keep its shape.

Showing the layers, saran wrap, duck tape and tee shirt.


Try and tape close to the last strip but, as close to beside and not on top of it to avoid creating bulk.

The saran wrap helps build the duck tape into a form

Step II

Next, you must take the time to measure yourself.

When measuring, do not pull the tape tightly.  You should have it taunt around the area you're measuring, but not too loose or too tight.

What you will need to measure:

1)  From the nape of your neck to your natural waist.

2)  Your back from your backend to the end of your shoulders, making sure that you sit up straight (don't slouch).

3) Your chest should be measured as follows:

Measure just under your arms and above your chest line.  Or measure just below your chest line.  This number is your "band width."  

Then, wearing a good bra, measure around your chest, the tape at the point of your nipples,  evenly parallel to the floor.

The difference between the "band width" and your chest size is your cup size.  Each inch is a cup size.  So therefore, if your band width is 38 and your chest is 44, your cup size is DDD.  I have included a link to a site if you need further instructions.

4) Waist is measured at your natural waist.

5) The hip is measured by first measuring from the waist, nine inches down your side, and then around the hip from the nine inch point.  If you are petite, you will probably want to measure 7 inches.  

These are the important measurements.  Then, as you might guess, confirm these measurements on your dress form.  

The whole process only took about 15 minutes, you have to keep going once you start, but it is physically strenuous. 

I was pretty excited to see the form when it was finally off.  The duck tape does a good job in holding its shape.  

Step III

Developing Your Dress Form
Allow a lot of space and time for this process because each layer will need to dry before you apply the next.  I put my form on a plastic milk crate.  This will allow you to move the dress form when you are finished for the day, but also, just rotate it around as you apply the paper mache.
Milk crate, flour, large bowl with about four cups of water, and newspaper torn into strips roughly an 1 1/2 inches thick and a 12 inches long (or the length of the newspaper).

but, be able to flow through your fingers

The consistency should be thick,

with some fluidity.

Making the paste is not high science, just pour flour into your water until you get a consistency of runny cream of wheat. Begin with a 1 1/2 cup to one, that is, one cup of water for 1 1/2 cups of flour.   As the newspaper absorbs the liquid, you will need to periodically add water throughout the process.  This is why I usually start with a little more water to begin with.  

"Sclush" through to eliminate any lumps.  Now, tear up pieces of newspaper and put them into the paste.  I let them soak for a second or two to get wet, but not saturated.  

Now, start plastering.
Dip your 1" to 1 1/2" wide by 6" to 12" long  strips into the paste allowing them to get wet but not so saturated that they begin to fall apart.  

Running the strip through your figure, remove the excess paste.

Take your strips of newspaper, with your hands, clean off the excess paste, and put the strip on the dress form, making sure that you have no lumps or creases.  Because I had a LARGE area to cover, I keep my pieces as large as possible, but not so large that I compromised the ability to contour where needed.  Also, you will want to avoid any creases.      In other words, smaller strips allow you to follow the contours of you body better without creating creases in the paper. 

You will keep doing this until you have covered your dress form.  
I know--who in this day and age takes pictures like this--well--it's a gift.  But, hopefully will give you a better concept of the process.



Be very careful not to build too thick a layer of paper mache.  
Let each layer dry before you apply the next.
If your layer when dry is very dusty, you have not added enough water.  If it is not holding together as one piece, you have not added enough flour.


 I guess a word about flour paste should be said.  It has fallen out of favor because it may attract bugs.  My experience is that I have not had that problem.  I made a paper mache cave for my creche almost thirty years ago and have not had a problem with bugs, and none have been coming around my Rosa-Mae.  I do put a layer of spray paint on the object when completed.

 An alternative is plaster of paris.  With this you can actually use strips of fabric. But remember, the fabric will add greater volume to your form.  Again, just remember you want to avoid adding too many layers.   Remember also to use plastic gloves, or you may burn your hands.  

Step IV

I have been wrestling with how to finish the dress form because there are more products available each year that can create a thin hard shell--and I will leave you with the several options currently available.

First, measure yourself, and compare all the measurements to the dress form.  If you need to build, use the paper mache.  If you need to reduce, (hopefully not too much), after your dress form is completely dry, with a very fine sand paper, gently sand away and smooth your form.  When done...

Wipe down your dress form with a lightly moistened cloth to eliminate as much dust as possible.  If there seems to still be excessive dust, you may spray the dress form with a fixative, most commonly used with soft pastels.
 Then the last step is to apply any one of a range of products.  The product range includes, epoxies, tapes and paints, shellac...anything that will give you a solid shell and not add bulk to your form.  Just remember,  you are looking to apply a product that when dry is non toxic, which usually ends up being some kind of epoxy.  But epoxies can be difficult to work with, because of the dry time.  You will be working closely with the form, and some products can take years to lose their smell.

That's it, we're done...



05/10/2016 6:07am

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