Why You Simply Must Have a Proper Adjustable Vintage Dress Form

After wearing my totally period incorrect Brain Tan Corset for a few days to break it in, I found the top and bottom edges folding out and downward in inconvenient places that would add strange ridges under any garment I wore it under.

So, back on the dress form it went and I added cotton twill bias tape with copious amounts of Hide Glue to hold it in place smoothly.

This could not be done with the corset laying flat as it would have rumpled and bulged in the unexpected places, it simply had to be corrected on the form and following my form adjusted to my shape.

It also allowed me to apply tension to the tape while applying so that it pulled in the top and bottom of the garment as I wrapped.

Here you see the top edge tightly wrapped glued down in place.

(Remember, this is a "Fun Garment" and has no basis in historical correctness. I need to wear a corset for my bad back and I had the leather, so I made it. I will eventually cover the edges of twill tape with another band of thin leather, restoring its "rustic" appearance. Think of it this way, most of us wouldn't wear a period correct hide dress without a bra, this is my version of a bra).
On the bottom edge I loosely pinned the tape to the form under the corset, but then glued the outer edge first applying tension as I went.
Here you can see me pulling and wrapping the tape to the applied glue. I actually abandoned the "start from the center and work out" idea as soon as this picture was taken, I went back to the tried and true "start at the outer edge and work your way around". This gave me the smooth finish I needed.
It had a few wrinkles at first but applying tension and pressure smoothed it out nicely as the glue began to tack. the wrinkles arrived because of my "start in the middle" attempt obviously failed and had to be corrected by pulling the glued tape edge loose and reapplying as I came to it from the proper "start at the edge" method.

The same was done for the back, the tape is pinned in place to the form but the front is glued first, then the tape is wrapped around and glued to the inside of the corset.
I had help from my cat in this endeavor, she insisted I take a break and attend to her for a bit, but she didn't understand that glue must be dealt with when applied and not after her needs are met.

You can see the protective paper towel barrier in place between the form and the inside of the corset, I had just finished gluing the bottom edge to the inside. One must not glue ones garment to the form!
Here is the tape pinned in place on the top edge between the corset and form.

You will note the edges I left a bit of extra tape on, after finishing all the gluing, I went back and glued under the edges, clipping the extra off as I did a neat fold under.
Here is the glue applied and allowed to tack for five minutes on the front of the corset, I then applied tension as I turned the edge down from right edge to left edge to tighten and stiffen the flopping top.

Below are the most convincing reasons I can ever show to illustrate the need for a good dress form that reflects your actual shape and measurements.

I can work confidently knowing that what I do on the form will look the same on me!

Perhaps my "bum" is a bit fluffier, but the corset shows that it is holding the shape I created on the form. If I was to continue shaping over the "Rear" I would simply pad out the form in the needed areas. Thankfully, most of the garments I create are immediately "Fulled Out" when they hit this region, so I am safe for now!

I should have called this article, "How to fix the mistakes you made on your corset by adding twill tape to the edge" but I instead chose to highlight how important it is to have a properly adjustable, sturdy dress form.

I had to move heaven and earth to find these vintage wonders, they have no contemporary peers in modern guise. You have the choice of either buying a cheap form that will collapse under the extra padding needed to mimic your shape, (not to mention the weight of the garment itself), as they are not truly adjustable in any meaningful way, or buying an expensive, non adjustable dress form that gives you just a small margin of correction in size and shape before you have to buy another dress form of a larger or smaller size.

I am justifiably angry with the dress form industry for not continuing to make a decent adjustable dress form at a reasonable price that will do the job a seamstress needs to do, which is to create wonderful, fitted garments for a variety of shapes and sizes reliably and with as little frustration as possible.

Shame on them for thinking they are filling a need in the sewing world when what they are really doing is causing seamstresses untold frustration and loss of confidence when they prepare a garment upon their cheap, flimsy forms and find the fit is not what they were told it would be by the simple manipulation of cheap dials on a plastic form.

It makes me sad to think of how many promising seamstresses have given up because they felt their talents were lacking, when in reality it was the fault of a badly made crappy dress form that failed to deliver the results intended.

If you feel the way I do about this situation, take a moment to contact these sham dress form makers and let them know you wouldn't buy their product if they were giving them away. It might make a difference, it might not, but I sleep better knowing they have had my opinion on the matter.

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