Ditto – World’s Best Mannequin

For years now, I have been in search of a better mannequin. Try as I may, due to the lack of stability and fit to my own form, it was impossible to make effective alterations or create custom-fit garments. In addition, all the best mannequin’s were very pricey.

Then, a miracle occurred – I lost over 50 lbs! With this new me came a renewed desire to find the right dress form so that I could create some truly amazing garments.

But how could I do this on a limited budget?

YOU TUBE to the rescue

I checked out YouTube and found a variety of different How-To videos to create a better mannequin.. The one below was one of my favorites:

Youtube Duct Tape Mannequin video

From a variety of different videos and tutorials, I created my own process. Here is the first draft of the plan for my own version. Please note that this original drawing changed in some of the dimensions, but the overall concept was solid.

Quilt retreat and duct tape

Sometimes you need a little help from your friends. In this case another Robin came to my rescue and was eager to wrap me up in tape!

After a lot of tape and even more laughter, we had a shell that I could work with. I actually extended it down past my hips so that I could utilize as much of my form as possible.

Next – Hardware

Shopping at our favorite store – Home Depot!

The trick to the stability of this form is in the frame. We used 2″ PVC with a variety of connectors. A “T” shape is created inside the form itself with drain flange terminations on the neck and both arm holes as well as the bottom of the form. The value to this is that you can use them to connect other elements as well. (Such as hanging arm sections or a head).

Can you say a better mannequin?

The finished product has made a LOT of difference in the quality of garments I have been able to create.

Working on a new gown

My newest project (previewed here) fits the same on me and the mannequin.

The proof is in the picture – and a perfect fit is worth the effort

In the end, I spent some time and less than $100 to create a DITTO of me that will allow me to get the best fit possible. The gown above was created from some original design and some patterns that were altered for the look I wanted. Soon, I should be able to showcase the creation of this gown as well.

If you like garments, check out a this other post:

Green Fleur Renaissance Gown

Small Vintage Flowers

Small Vintage Flowers is the last top in this series and for this one particular client. So much more manageable than the Large version, I was so happy to see how it turned out..

This is such a fun quilt, full of unique fabrics and a design that just seems to take motion. The pieced blocks float on a blue background and can almost be seen sliding from left to right. Sometimes it takes finishing a quilt to see these unique elements.

Some Challenges

This quilt, now beautiful, was not without a few challenges. Because it was both hand-pieced and the top had been machine washed, there were issues with structure

Some stitches held up better than others after a machine washing

You can easily see how washing the top stressed the stitches and created lots of orphan strings. No matter how dank, smelly or musty a quilt top smells, please consult your long arm quilter before throwing it in the wash. Small vintage flowers survived, but a quilt top in lesser condition may not have.

Edge to Edge Quilting – Small Vintage Flowers

Seamless E2E pattern – a staple for vintage quilts
Edge to Edge Patterns

Check out some of the other posts in this series:

Large Vintage Flowers

This is the second to last post showcasing the 5 quilts that a client brought to me to preserve. Unfortunately,this top was a no go in the quilting department. It included a lot more than regular quilting cotton fabrics. In addition, the piecing was done by hand and was not very tight. Large vintage flowers was certainly a challenge – decisions were made.

Unique Challenges

Large Vintage Flower

Here you can see just how scrappy and wonderful this quilt top is. The problem with it is that the pieced scrappy circles are so loose, that if you placed a beach ball inside one and laid it on the long arm, it would resemble a well-endowed woman in a scrappy bikini!

There was absolutely NO WAY to get this to lay flat without folding pieced elements on to one another.

Searching for Solutions

With sadness, I told the customer that I could not quilt this as is without creating so many puckers and folds that the end product would not honor the creator. I did have an idea; however. Why not take each of the 9 sections and create individual throw pillows? In this way, the quilt could retain the stitches and content of the original piecer, but in a way that can be enjoyed. Sure, the pillows would be poofy – but isn’t that what pillows are supposed to be?

Hopefully, large vintage flowers will begin as one top and end as a garden of throw pillows.

Check out some other posts in this series:

Flour Sack Flowers

Yet another – 4th in the series of vintage quilts that a client presented to me for finishing. Flour Sack Flowers follows a round robin type of pattern which builds from the center and moves out with a different motif for each border. I find that when I have some great fabrics to showcase, this type of pattern works well. You can also see how well the textures and scale of prints play off of each other.

Flour sack Flowers
Flour Sack Flowers
Loaded on the Long Arm

For such an old quilt top, you can plainly see that it was in pretty good shape. There was not much wonkiness (even after being washed in a commercial machine). Of course, there were lots of underside threads to contend with, but that could not be avoided in this case.

Backing Fabric

Most vintage quilts that I complete for clients include Muslin for the backing. This time was different. The client intends to gift this to a young woman in the family and wanted the backing to be as lovely as the front. luckily, I knew the perfect fabric for this request.

The pink and floral fabric on the top of the image above turned out to be the perfect choice to complete Flour Sack Flowers. The colors and textures mimic and respond to the elements in the older fabrics on the front. I am always amazed at the quality and vibrancy of flour sacks.

Edge to Edge Pattern

Edge to Edge Patterns

Flutterby is a simple, unsophisticated edge to edge pattern that ties a vintage quilt together in such a nice way. This Edge to Edge design seems to just float about without overtaking the patterns in the top itself.

If you like the look of this quilt, you may also enjoy viewing this Vintage Inspired Quilt that has much in common.

Peonies and Polka Dots

See more in this series:

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