Foam mannequins are inexpensive to build and offer the ability to make a custom-sized template for custom-made clothing. While plastic mannequins are re-sizeable and easier to clean, foam is advantageous for two main reasons: It is flexible and mimics the fullness and give of flesh, serving as a realistic model for fittings and adjustment of drape and length. And foam can accommodate pins and staples, holding fabric in place during hand alterations.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Rigid foam block
- Craft knife
- Hot wire sculpting tool
- Foam sheets
- Staple gun
- Sewing machine
Select a sturdy metal or wood frame around which to build the body. You can use an old mannequin frame or hat rack.
Wrap the top of the post with a clean rag. Secure the rag with rubber bands. Repeat to cover all sharp edges and protrusions.
Select a durable foam block that can be carved, such as polystyrene. Orient the block so that it is longer vertically, like a torso.
Shape the sides of the block to resemble a body using the craft knife, scissors and hot wire sculpting tool. For example, the waist can be tapered or curved, or the stomach may be flat or round.
Carve additional blocks of foam to form breast tissue, musculature and fat. Attach parts with a multipurpose glue for semi-porous surfaces.
Invert the torso and carve a hole in the centre of the underside of the block that runs one half to three-quarters the length of the shape.
Wrap a sheet of foam or thick bating around the mannequin to pad the foundational foam block and build up the shape of the figure as needed.
Adhere the sheet to the mannequin with glue, tape or extra-long upholstery staples.
Measure the circumference of the mannequin at its widest point. Measure the length of the mannequin and add 6 inches.
Sew a tube of skin-toned nylon that has the same circumference and the length when stretched. You may also use an old leotard or body suit for this purpose.
Slide the tube over the mannequin. Hand stitch or staple the material in place.
Take the mannequin's measurements. Add stuffing as needed. To decrease the size, remove the nylon and tape down any bulges.
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