Oh dear Matilda is not happy her nerves are frayed and she is unravelling with shame!
Firstly, she was made to feel like a lingering bad smell by my sewmates, I received sew many offers of ‘would you like me to carry her upstairs for you?’ from the Wolf. My beautiful daughter was blunter: is she staying in here she freaks me out?’ Even Bowie the border(line crazy) collie had a nibble at her feet, I mean stand.
Secondly, well the perfect hour-glass has gone to be replaced by a Stella Chalice: the material girl has become my doppelgänger
You may need a reminder of her perfectly proportioned untouched by life figure before she got work as my manikin. You can’t blame her for being cheese clothed off, she was living the un-plumped dream!
Yeah well live with it, tough Teflon it happens to us all!
Thirdly, the whole process was undignified for both her and me, I usually avoid the tape measure like housework. I often order stuff, including bras & shoes, the size I think I should be.
Thee whole humiliating process started with a quick sketch of my torso (love that word my other favourite is mid section). I measured strategic points, more rounds than points to be honest, and noted them down on my sketch. I did the same for Matilda, using centimetres for accuracy and to discourage the Pavlovian impulse to record 36, 24, 36!
I subtracted the difference between each set of measurements, this was the amount of plumping specific areas required.
I decided to use some recycled fleece (a cosy cave under my daughters loft bed, it still had the odd staple in it – gotta love a staple gun project). It has obvious plumping properties and a bit of stretch to help lift and shape, or sag and shape?
I cut two pieces using the measurements from real me for the final ‘skin’ and draped this over Matilda for a quick measure. This was my base point for how much layering was required.
Of course a thinish layer of fleece was not going to transform svelte Matilda into gravity fighting me. I have skinny legs, no waist, slightly top-heavy boobs and an alright bum, so targeted padding was required. I started by lifting up her final skin and constructing her ‘pies’ from a bit of wadding and a fleece bandeau. Wrapped a wide band around the gut area and flipped the final skin down for a measure.
It wasn’t right, my pies were too low and belly too uniform (mine is more a kangaroo pouch without the Joey). I took it all off and cut the cups out of a bra, stitched them onto the nylon pre-plumping skin. I then stitched and stuffed to taste, it was at this point I asked the wolf which of my boobs was the bigger one? He replied swiftly and returned to watching the tennis. (Five minutes later he was creeping up on my offering to make sure that he had got it right!)
This allowed me more freedom to measure and adjust until my shelf like bosom was replicated. Don’t worry about the stitch size or visibility it will be covered with more mummifying layers anyway.
I switched between Hannibal Lecter creating his skin suit and Rambo stitching up his wound styles during the build a body segment.
This technique requires lots of measuring, checking and adjusting, I cut out two long oval shapes in the back Then stitched them up. I tried my upholstery needle but I was just showing off as it was easier with a normal one. When I felt that the boobs and belly were about right (minus 1-2 CM’s for the final skin I looked at her from several angles. I also groped her and myself to check the bumps and lumps were replicated. Once I was happy with the effigy I put the final skin over pinned carefully and stitched it up the sides.
I took advantage of the stretch in the fabric and pulled, snipped and sculpted at this stage, one final measure and check and she was done. I used more of a Rambo stitch here to allow a quick unpick for seasonal adjustments if/when required! The final dress will cover it all and hold it snuggly in place.
I used a thin stretch jersey for her party dress and typically had to take it in three times before a snug fit was achieved. I even have body dysmorphia about my manikin!
Here she is, finished and all ready for action, my new sewing apprentice Matilda. A lady in my sewing Facebook group adopted, I mean took delivery of one on the same day as me. She was planning on making a muslin, then padding it to suit (including some ingenious use of her husbands motor bike suit pads). I must message her for an update, after all our girls are twins! It may not be the best way to plump out a manikin but it’s a whole lot cheaper than buying a free form tailors dummy.