Whenever I see an old wire seamstress dress form, I can’t help but imagine Coco Channel in vintage Paris…pinning her newest design to one of these forms. I decided that I wanted a seamstress form for my craft room, as they are quintessential to sewing, a skill of which I’ve learned a bit about from my mother.
Having never been to France, I figure that New Orleans is one of the next best things, so I like to imagine that I found this one at a second hand shop, just off Bourbon Street, in the French Quarter; however, the truth be told, I made it myself, well, it’s a mini version, anyway. If you have a piece of chicken wire, then you only need a few more items and you can make a seamstress mini dress form for your sewing or craft room.
Here is what you need:
Chicken wire (poultry fence) 1-1/2’ x 2’
Thin gauge 3-4 strips cut to about 3” each
Celluclay (or similar)
Craft paint in colors: raw umber, vanilla, orange, red, and copper
Teaspoon, or so baking soda
Standard paint brush
Spray primer (I used gray)
Roll up the piece of chicken wire into a tube shape and to about the size of the width of a wine bottle, give or take. Make sure to that you have the exposed cut wire ends on the top and the bottom. Also make sure that you wrap the chicken wire around twice.
Using wire cutters, cut the edges of the chicken wire lengthwise where the 2nd layer meets the beginning end. The ends will not touch because the beginning end should be on the inside of the “tube”. You just want the inside end and the outside end to line up.
Here is the fun part, because you will be forming that perfect lady shape that these seamstress forms seem to always have. So start by squeezing in on the wire at about ¼” or so down from the top to create her waist. As you start to see the female shape begin to form, pull on the wire in the required places to create a bust and then a dress. It will take a little work, but your perfect lady form will emerge.
Once you are happy with your form, attach the thin gauge wire strips to her back side along the seam to hold her together.
Mix up some Celluclay, per directions and lay several strips around the base of the form. Let this dry overnight. (Store-bought air-dry clay would probably work too, I just haven’t tried that.)
Give the entire form and base a coat of primer.
Paint the form and base any color you would like.
I painted the base of the form with a mix of raw umber and metallic copper.
Here is how I painted the wire part of the form:
I started with craft paint in the color raw umber, and I also mixed in just a touch of baking soda and water to the paint mix (kind of like chalk paint.) I let that color dry, and then went over her again with craft paint in the color vanilla, but I didn’t get every spot, I gave her large vanilla accents. Then I gave her another coat of raw umber, creating accents. Then I gave her a paint wash (paint and water) in vanilla. I accented her with raw umber again, and finally mixed together a bit of orange and red and gave her some more accents with that as the last color. Let all paint dry between coats.
Gather some buttons. They can be all the same, or a variety. I was inspired by this piece of scrapbook paper…
…and I just so happened to have my mother’s collection of sewing buttons!!
Plan your button arrangement, and then attach them to the base with hot glue.
This one holds cherished items for me, that belonged to my mother.
She would be a lovely bonus to any craft or sewing room, don’t you agree?