Resurrection and revamping: the mannequin dossier – part one.


Did I ever tell you about the time I performed a resurrection? Oh no? Well, this is it. What do you with that once faithful friend who after more than a decade of neglect, you suddenly decide you need, only to discover that because you relegated her to that friendless zone of ‘got-no-time-for-hobbies-now-work-obsessed’ uselessness, she is shall we say, less than match fit. All that time languishing in various dark and dank corners have taken their toll and she is looking a bit haggard.

This is how Venus used to look. What she looks like now will astound you!

I needed my old friend and I needed her soon and I couldn’t replace her so that left only one thing. She needed a makeover, pronto!

The very first problem was that she was a little legless, not the “had too much partying” type of legless that usually describes me at this time of year but literally legless. I couldn’t find two of her four legs and so she couldn’t stand up unaided. I spent a lot of time thinking she was deep in the dark recesses of what remains of my loft space which could only be accessed by crawling into the claustrophobia-inducing little hole which lurks in the eaves of the house in our converted loft/attic space. I have done this once when stuffing boxes in and I am really reluctant to do it again. While I’m not exactly afraid of spiders I don’t want to willingly enter their cobweb-sticky, dark and dusty domain – and you know, hair and stuff.

Finally while hunting for something else I found the missing feet in an entirely different long forgotten safe place and this then meant I revisited the forlorn mannequin. As you can see she was in a sorry state and as I really couldn’t afford to replace her I decided I had to perform a resurrection.

My mannequin is an Adjust-o-form Venus model meaning you can tweak it to fit your size; also meaning she can be used to fit more than one person but on closer inspection, I found that a couple of the adjusting dials were missing so immediately there was an issue I had no means of fixing. More immediately though she was very ragged.

Venus needs some TLC urgently.

First hurdle – the cover – I thought she was just a bit dusty but while brushing at the ‘dusty’ covering I found that the fabric was in fact disintegrating. The mannequin is covered in foam backed fabric and the foam had rotted and disintegrated into a fine black dust so that when I brushed the fabric, it separated from the body and when I tugged it to investigate the extent of the problem it just came away depositing this dust everywhere. OK, I thought I’ll remove it. This is when I found that the only thing holding it in place was the cap on the neck which was also in a state of disintegration.

The first thing I had to figure out was what to cover her with. Googling produced a few suppliers of stretch covers but I thought that if I spent what they were asking for I might as well buy a new dressform.  This brought me back to my original dilemma. I can’t afford to buy a new form. This brought me to think I could make my own Lycra cover, then I realised that this would render the adjustable dials inaccessible so I thought about all the fabrics I had in the stash and decided that I couldn’t use any of them.  I came to the conclusion that the cover would have to be stuck to the dress form as the original had been, leaving the dials and openings available for adjustment as intended.

Back to Google then, while searching for foam backed fabric I landed on a site that sold the material that is used to line car interiors, you know that stuff that covers the roof of the cab. This kind of looked right and so I ordered some. I went for a metre as at the width given I thought there would be enough and as it turns out I have plenty to spare.

That web site cost me a couple of hours as there were so many cool fabrics there that my mind went into a ‘what can I make with these’ spin. You know what I’m talking about. There will be waterproof, outdoor, utilitarian makings in the pipeline. However back to the task at hand.

It took me a while to figure out but as the fabric has a little give I felt the best way to make it was to draw a pattern directly from the dress form itself and stick the fabric on. Easy… right?

Watch this space to see how Venus returns to the land of the sewing.

About Elaine Batiste

I'm a teacher, a lifelong learner, a traveller, a maker, an adventurer and a 'want to do more' kind of gal.

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