Monday, March 31, 2014

torso form

I had been looking for good, full sized torso forms on which to photograph and map out the mechanical logistics of sewing designs. For a whole year, I kept my eyes open. The problem is that to make them easier to dress, they are often mannequin skinny, and to me not proportioned as a real human form. I sort of always had it in the back of my mind to make my own, but where to begin? What measurements SHOULD sh/he be?
    I began by drawing what I thought would be a good average onto a thin piece of plywood board, and cutting it out with a jig-saw.
 By making it in two halves, I figured I could put a hinge down the center, and that would be a great help in dressing and undressing the form. Once I had the two haves, I cut a clean sofa cushion into 2" wide strips and began mapping out the bodyform.
At this stage, I found it important to do some extra intensive research on the layout of the human landscape. I wanted to be as accurate as I could with where the body rose and fell, slopes and angles that govern how the thighs fit into the trunk etc. Using scissors, I found I could do more sculpting by "shaving" the torso here and there.
With that completed, I went about hot gluing the the individual stacks of cushion together, and adding some breast pieces. I knew that once I covered the whole thing in canvas, a lot of the subtler features would disappear, but as long as I had a working form, I'd be happy.
After putting in a few darts in the neck, armpits and crotch area, I tacked the canvas down with a staple gun around the back of each panel, and joined them using two 18" long 1x2's, and hinges. Lastly, I fitted the bottom of my form with two "footie" pieces of wood to help her/him stand up. Ready to dress! I am sure this piece will become a prominent fixture in blog entries to come, and I am glad to report: ~95% recycled materials. All I ended up having to buy was screws and hinges.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

swimsuit 2

Flattered to be asked to make another swimsuit-like monokini. I have to let newly bought fabric get lost in the studio from time to time, just to distance it from the purchase. Then I miraculously find it again, and it's like it was free! So I happened to have this p/d fabric and thought it would be a sort of betty page update. From the back it looks almost chaste.
As always, it starts with a drawing, which I then transpose onto paper. A lil trick I devised is to use the entire form on one piece of paper, and poking semi big holes into the pattern where the edges overlap. This way, you can have less paper patterns to go missing in the chaos. I can also use the same bra pattern, even for different sizes, and I don't need a separate one.
Using clear plastic tape, I can reinforce the paper where I have poked my holes, so that as I am "stippling" through them with a pen, they don't tear etc. When I have drawn my lines, I cut the fabric and begin pinning pieces together. Obviously, symmetry is the name of the game, in drawing and cutting the pattern, transposing and cutting the fabric, pinning for the seams, and sewing the fabric together. At every stage of the project I have to police the symmetry of everything.
Another thing that ends up being imperative, is the balance of elastic strengths and pulls.

Next comes the sewing of all the side-seams. I make sure to leave enough room in the fold to thread my elastics through. Making the long straps for the back consists of cutting longer strips of fabric, about an inch wide, with a string down the center and stitched into the far end, careful not to let the string get into the seam anywhere along the tube. I like to first do a zig-zag to make sure I didn't accidentally sew-in the string (if so, it's easier to rip than a straight stitch), and then I do my straight stretch stich down the middle of the zig zag.
 Running the string down the center of the tube/strap makes turning it inside out a snap. Getting it started gently with a chopstick is a good idea. Once you have turned the full length of the strap inside out, the string can be cut off with the end.It got away from me before I could photograph the finished product, with straps and clasps and all. There are some plans to do a shoot though. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Some highlights from our shoot! Enjoy.