Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The 1812 Plaster Cast Dress Form Take Two...

Materials prepped and ready for plastering. I used medical
grade plaster for the first two layers, but regular hobby store
for the last. In the future, I would go with medical grade
for the whole thing. (Ran out and needed some quick!)
After letting my last cast dry out (read about that one here), a terrible thing happened; It spread ever so slightly as it dried and my cut edges did not line up completly (some areas as had as much as 3/4" discrepancy between the edges! eek!) so when I tried to put the two pieces back together they did not make the complete mold I had envisioned for myself.

I should have followed the advice of those who came before and tied my two casts together while still somewhat damp to allow for a matching seam. Oh well... back to step one.

In some ways, I was glad that my first form didn't quite turn out as this allowed me to do a couple of things differently on the second go. First, I was able to wear a shift instead of the tank top that was on hand during my first form. Secondly, I used cling wrap instead of a garment bag.

The cling wrap definitely helped reduce bulk between myself and the plaster while still protecting my clothing. Note to self, not a bad idea to use masking/painter's tape to hold down hard to wrap areas like arms/armpits/neck. No big deal, but would probably help keep everything protected. This took much longer to prep than when we used the bag, but overall I think we achieved a better result. I'd say it was about 30 minutes extra but much less puffage than the garment bag.

Cling wrapping over my shift and
1812 stays. (I made these at a
B&T workshop in 2012.)

It's worth the time and effort to cut the cling wrap in half (the long way down the roll) to do things like the waist and bosom. It's also important to note that while you want the cling wrap to stick to itself and be snug to the body, you want to also be careful not to pull it too tightly or it will squish your squishy bits in a different way than they may normally squish. It should lay nicely close to the body, but not necessarily cling to the body.

Once I was all cling wrapped up, my loving husband and my best friend in the whole world helped to plaster me up. They did quite a fabulous job. We didn't take pictures of the plastering me up this time, as it was just the three of us and once everyone's hands got all messy we left the camera alone!

Once the plaster had dried enough to hold it's shape, but still allow some flex for me to get out, we cut me out... with a dremel. (Check out this post for more info on making your own form. I borrowed a lot of ideas from him!) The first time we used bandage scissors. They worked. But the dremel was oh so better (if a bit nerve wracking, at first.) We got a nice clean cut. The only difficult area was the armpit. We managed to cut enough of one that we finished the cut with scissors and then I slid my arm out of the other "sleeve". We will cut that part off of the body for ease.

I've put some pictures of me in my stays as compared to the outer shell of the mold (remember, the foam will fill the inside of the mold so should end up much closer to my actual shape/size). I think they look pretty close so far, so I'm excited to smooth out the inside, wax it up, and pour foam!

Front view. You can see the mold picked up pretty well on my raised left hip
(right in picture).

I'm fairly pleased with the collarbone detail and ability to see the stay line
along the bust. (Part of that shelf look for which the regency is known.)

Back view. Nothing to compare to here
as I forgot to take a sideways back picture.
But it does look pretty close compared to my
actual body.

All things considered.... I definitely will do this again for 1760's, maybe even for a modern dress form. Worth the time and effort, and I can't wait to start draping on the finished form. I don't think I will make my end of February deadline (as I had to recast the form), but I think I can certainly finish her by the first week of March. =)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And now for something completely different... sort of...

Don't worry- I'm in media res with work on my 1812 dress form. (More to come on that later, I promise!) The problem is, I keep thinking that I need to be working on my stays for 1768. Like, problem as in I was awake in bed last night thinking to myself, " You need to work on your stays, too. You can't just stop making clothes for the 1760's because you've decided you need to go to Waterloo... you can't just abandon your first time period like that..."

So, to keep me on target to finish my dress form by the end of February while still working on items for my other period, I decided to compromise. I will make a second pair of 18th century stays using my pattern from my Burnley and Trowbridge workshop in November, but I'll machine stitch the channels and (since I won't be able to acquire and work on the baleen for my delicious teal stays) I'll use riven oak splits for this  pair.

My stay pieces cut and ready for basting. My handy dandy
Burnley and Trowbridge workshop folder in the background.
Those folders are magic! =P
So, to construct this second pair, I decided to use materials on hand (minus the oak splits, which I just ordered today.) I used some leftover linen from my B&T workshop, another piece of natural colored linen I had around the workroom, and I'll probably use the leather I bought for my teal pair to bind them. (I can pick up some more when I go to the breeches workshop next weekend...)

I've got my pieces cut and chalked (see photo). Two panels are prepped and ready for channels, so only eight more to go! I'm really hoping by making this pair first I can make most of my screw ups with binding, etc. on this pair before I go all out with my teal stays--plus these will go together faster as I'm using the machine for channels (the rest will have to be done by hand) and using the oak gives me time to arrange for obtaining the baleen and the tools needed to work it into stays. Plus, theoretically, using the same pattern should allow me to then make a plaster mold for my 1760s dress form while wearing this pair, allowing me to drape another gown or two that will fit over my teal pair of stays once they are finished.

I so dig it!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Custom Made Plaster Cast Dress Form (1812 style)... Part 1

It all started with my very first workshop about a year and a half ago: my 1770's gown ( made at a Burnley and Trowbridge summer workshop in Aug 2011). It was so awesome. I went with a friend so we paired up as draping partners and were able to drape to our forms as an 18th century mantua maker would have done.  The gown so well fitted and I love the way I feel when I wear it. This started an addiction...

I next attended a workshop on devilish details, an 1812 corset workshop, an 18th century stays workshop, and coming up soon- an 18th century breeches workshop. (Not to mention the number of workshops I plan to take in the future!)

The more I decide I want to do things in as much of the period manner as possible, the more I am enjoying what I make and the more I want to make more! This venture often leads me down some pretty interesting paths to achieve my desires. ... read on for the first really crazy (or cool, if you're me) thing I've done this year for the sake of authenticity.

The Inspiration:
Waterloo 2015 is coming and I've nothing to put over that 1812 corset! I need to make some regency wear, and I'd like to make a change or two of clothes for my 18th century persona, also. Alas, I have no draping partner here, nor a workshop to attend to obtain one. Enter a little bit of ingenuity and a whole lot of here's hoping this works!

Me in a JC Penny bag over my 1812 corset
and covered in plaster bandages! (I cut
out my face because this was my "put the
camera away and cut me out or die" face...)
More pics to come...
The Crazy (Cool):
I decided to make a plaster cast of myself in my 1812 undies. That's right. I'd read quite a few tutorials online for DIY dress forms using this method and having better results than the duct tape or packing tape form, so I figured- Why not? My other option was to find some way to build a full size replica of myself that would act like skin and bone so that I could put my period undergarments on the form and it would squish into them just like me, or of getting my body scanned in a 3-D scanner wearing the undergarments for each of the time periods I portray.. After a lot of research (ballistics gel, skeletal structures, facilities with 3-D scanning capabilities, etc.) I figured that sounded like waaaay to much time/work/money.

I needed a better solution. Quick.

So I got plastered. Literally.

It really didn't take as long as I thought it would. The whole process start to finish was maybe 3 hours. It was relatively painless and I think my helpers actually had fun. (Special thank you to my husband and mother-in-law for their helping hands.)

My form has been curing for seven days now and I am ready to smooth out the inside with some plaster of Paris. This way when I fill with foam it will have a smoother finish (less sanding later on?). I'm going to work on creating a stand for it this week, so that I can cast the foam mold this weekend.

Once the foam cures around the stand I can take off the mold and VOILA! I'll sand her smooth and create a classy looking cover--maybe top her off with some neck and shoulder caps.

And then the fun part begins as I start draping my Regency wardrobe on a replica of myself.

Here's hoping this works!