DIY Duct Tape Dress Form

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

If you sew regularly, what do you do if you don't have a dress form?.

Image c/o BuyStoreFixtures

I've been sewing for close to two years, and would you believe until now, I've not used a dress form  for any one of my sewing projects.  The two main reasons for not having a dress form are simple:

  • Lack of floor space to store one
  • Cost of buying one, either new or second hand, is probably worth the investment, but oh so expensive
My first reason, has not been rectified, there is limited floor space in my home for a dress form.  Equally, trying to sew and fix clothing by wearing garments, looking in the mirror, pinning, taking off, sometimes catching myself with pins, and repeating many times over, far outweighs my floor space issue.  So I've bitten the bullet, and reorganised my room to accommodate a mannequin.

There is a solution to my second reason for not buying an expensive dress form, and that is to make one.  I've seen many tutorials to make your own dress form using duct tape.  Some of the better tutorials can be found on Threads Magazine, Making It Well, and Off Beat Bride.  The basis of making your own dress form is quite simple, wear an old t-shirt or bin bag, get a friend or family member to duct tape your body, cut it off, re-attach back together, stuff it, and finally mount on a stand, or hang from a clothes hanger.  Last weekend, the whole family got involved in making my dress form, which is now named The Mummy.

And here you go, possibly the most unflattering, ridiculous photograph you'll ever see on this blog, 
a ducted taped Erica..

After the duct tape is cut away, I've resealed it, closed off the neck and arm holes, stuffed with nasty plastic bags and junk mail, and secured the bottom with cardboard, cutting a hole for a pole.  

She's sitting on a paper tube, and Christmas Tree stand.

"The Mummy"

Jnr RF found the whole process very amusing.

The Mummy is not perfect, and she's far from attractive, but hey, I saved myself a few hundred dollars, and I'm sure she'll help me with my refashion and sewing project fittings.

Shared with Ta-Dah Tuesday


Up-cycle Your Clothes Talk

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A few months ago, I was contacted by Boronia Library, to do a talk on 'up-cycling your clothes', as part of a series of fashion and sewing related presentations. It's on next Saturday 4th August, here are the details.

Getting organised for such an event is tricky, where to start, what to talk about, how to fill my allocated time?  I prefer to speak off the cuff rather than reading from a written agenda.  However, a friend gave me a great tip which I've started working on, a bubble thought chart which will give me some guidence on the day

Readers, do you have any other words of wisdom you can give, to help prepare for a public talk?


Second Hand Clothing Stores in Vanuatu

Friday, July 27, 2012

For the past two weeks, my family and I have taken a short trip to the island nation The Republic of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific. This is my second visit, my first being a work trip visiting a community run turtle research project.

Image c/o Wikipedia

Take a recycled fashion blogger to a new location, and she is surely destined to seek out the nearest second hand fashion outlet, all in the name of blog research! A few doors down from our apartment in Port Vila, the nations capital, I spot Stanley's Imports second hand clothing store. Expecting a shop dedicated to the local attire; mother hubbard dresses, Hawaiian shirts and Asian made angry birds T-shirts, I am surprised to find evening dresses, casual dresses, jeans, knitwear, button up shirts, fabric, home wear, and kids toys.

The difference to your average thrift store are two prominent things, firstly the layout. Evening dresses, buttoned shirts, and knitwear are displayed on hangers by clothing racks. Other garments, however, are jumbled together in large wooden containers, ready for good old rummage like an old fashioned jumble sale. Fun!

Is it really cold enough for knitwear?!  Apparently so!

Get ready for a rummage

The second difference, is the pricing structure, you pay per the kilo rather than a single item, 1kilo of clothing is 900vt. It was not difficult to weigh up 1kilo, I managed to pick up two great dresses, and three Hawaiian shirts for a friend, 1.1kilo which I paid 990vt. Not a bad deal, considering one Hawaiian shirt bought new would be $15-20.

Scales to see if my purchase equated to a kilo

I contacted Stanley Imports, intrigued to find about their second hand clothing trade in a country with the reputation of the happiest place on the earth.

Q.  Where do you obtain your second hand clothing from?

Our second hand clothing are imported from Australia (wholesale)

Q. Is there much demand for second hand clothes in Vanuatu?

There is relatively a big demand on second hand clothing given the expensive clothing outlet in town with the Chinese shops and the quality just does not last. 2-3 weeks and they are broken. This is the comments that we get from our customers.

Q. Do you operate the only second hand clothing store in Vanuatu, or are there others?

There are several other second hand outlet in town. Overall if counting the little retail shops, there would be around 8 shops around Port Vila.

Q. Do many tourists shop at your second hand clothing stores?

We would get the tourist from hotels buying little here and there. I am more surprised that more of the tourist are from the cruise ships. In saying that, we also have a lot of local expat customers looking for a bargain. They know their brands. Unfortunately locals do not know much about what type of brand is expensive overseas and are sold here at the same price as other normal brands we have

Q. How many second hand clothing stores do you have in Vanuatu? Plans to open any more?

We currently have 3 shops here in Port Vila and 1 shop in Santo town. We are always looking at new ideas and opportunities to expand where the market allows us to perform. Ideally, our future focus would be to have a good size retail outlet to fit everything under one roof. I guess like a warehouse style outlet.

One of the dresses I purchased with my kilo, it is a fully lined, handmade dress,
which appears to be my preference of late.

Whilst I did not see too many mother hubbard dresses in Stanley Imports, these wide loose fitting, brightly coloured, floral cover up dresses, are ladies most common attire throughout the islands.  I asked these ladies in a village in north Efate if they made their own dresses, to which they reply they do indeed, with a sewing machine. With lack of electricity, one can only assume their sewing machines are turned by hand. Aren't they fantastic?

Colourful mother hubbard dresses, (and hair nets!) seen throughout Port Vila market

If you've missed Recycled Fashion Finds, they'll be a recap and new link up next week. Also don't forget Brag Your Best Buys contest is still open and waiting for your entries!

There's a hole in my jumper

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"There's a hole in my jumper, dear readers, dear readers, there's a hole in my jumper, dear readers, a hole"

 ..on a hand-me-down knit which I'm fond of.  It can't be donated to a charitable shop, and I dare not throw it out, so what should I do?  Whilst I am yet to work on my holey jumper repair, I am inclined to fix it, after a little inspiration from the WWW...

Add a metallic striped suede elbow patch.. 

..this was made using leftover suede from a purse Veronika (of tick tock vintage) made

Sew a lace elbow patch?

Looking at what Zoe (of So, Zo..) did with her Lace Yoke Sweatshirt Remake..

...could lace be added to holey jumper elbows?

Adding fabric flowers might be an idea...

..from Tatertots and Jello seen here

Maybe I should refashion the whole thing into a dog jumper?!  

Sorry, but  Gertie the dog, too cute not to share


Recycled vest doggy jumper tutorial seen here

Needle Felt Patches

Honestly WTF's DIY needle felted heart elbow patches..

 Replicated here, here and here

And speaking of needle felting, a friend, (and talented artist herself), introduced me to Lou Tonkin, and her beautiful jumper repair techniques.   Lou's work is absolutely magnificent, her repaired jumpers become delicate walking art work.





More of Lou Tonkin's exquisite work can be found here.  And if you're not inclined to try needle felting yourself, Lou Tonkin's jumper doctor service, means you could land yourself a beautiful piece of walking art too.

Sequinned elbows

As seen here

Creative elbow refashion possibilities prove endless.  I'll keep you posted..


Remember Recycled Fashion Finds link up will remain live for a further two weeks, and please do think about sharing your thrifty finds with Brag Your Best Buys contest!

Recycled Fashion Finds #50

Friday, July 6, 2012

Can you believe it? We're up to Recycled Fashion Finds #50!  This weeks Recycled Fashion Finds link up will be live for three whole weeks because I'll be taking a wee break from next Thursday.  I can't wait to check out three week's worth of Recycled Fashion Finds on my return!

Have you been thrifting, refashioning, sewing or crafting?  Would you like to participate in Recycled Fashion Finds?  Click here for last week's submissions.  Feel free to share more than one project or thrifty find, I always love to see what you've been up to.   

And don't forget, if you've an outfit to share, you can also enter it into the BragYourBuys contest, for a chance to win prizes!  Just leave a comment below if you'd like to enter your outfit into the competition.

Some picks from last week's last week's RFF:

maarnietvangrijs bought a dress for one Euro at a flea market, it was too small for her, 
so she made it into a skirt, using jersey fabric from another shirt for a stretchy fit waist.

Agy's slippers, woven from recycled t-shirts, amazing yes?
 (In Australia, we'd be calling this type of footwear, thongs!)

Laura's colour block dress which she made from a thrifted skirt, and fabric from Salvos,
using New Look 6779 dress pattern 

And you must check out Patty's thrifted Ralph Lauren dress below,
Patty, I love your blue accessories!

Click here for Recycled Fashion Find's rules, and don't forget to grab yourself a Recycled Fashion Finds blog badge for your blog post or side bar.

Recycled Fashion


Cuff Pouch

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Saw these on pinterest today, from Upcycle Your Life.  Thought they'd be great to make using leftover cuffs from a shirt refashion?

Based on a tutorial found on Family Chic


Teaching Children a Recycled Craft

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Today, for the very first time, I set up a little recycled craft corner in a children's playcentre.  One of the craft activities on today's agenda, bracelets made from plastic water bottles, similar to these plastic bottle cuffs.  This bracelet, as seen below, was made by a beautiful 4yr old girl, and whilst I helped her, she made most of this by herself.

On a separate note, whilst flicking through my facebook feed this evening, my son stopped at an image ..

"Jellyfish" I say,
"No, its not Jellyfish, its plastic bags" he corrects me, and he is right.
"Yes, plastic bags, they shouldn't be in the sea"
"Because fish and turtles might eat them, and they'll get very sick"
"How do we get them (the plastic bags) out?"
"We need to fish them out with fishing nets, or use our hands, and this is why we have to be careful not to put plastic bags in the sea"

.... of course this conversation continues, but today, I'm left thinking, that as adults, we have so much to learn from children, but they, have a more important message to learn, from us.


Refashioning Vintage Scarves into Wearable Fashion Garments - Lori Marsha

LoriMarsha, from Redlands, CA, a self-taught, independent designer, creating handmade one-of-a-kind fashion, made from second-hand materials.  Lori works without patterns or sketches, relying on the dress form as her guide.

Her signature pieces are quite unique, she sews beautiful tops and dresses, using vintage scarves.  All images seen here, are from Lori Marsha's resort collection.

Lori has taken some time to answer questions for Recycled Fashion readers:

Q. Can you tell us a little about your inspiration to start working with vintage scarves?

I love working with scarves because 1) they allow me to recycle 2) I love the drape of silk 3) They're the perfect size to allow mixing pattern and color.  I am currently creating yardage from silk scarves and silk remnants to be able to design in a more creative way on the dress form.

 Q. I notice your background is not so much in fashion, but your creative career started with card making after working in the corporate world.  I wondered if you'd had any formal training in sewing, or are you completely self taught?

My mother had a tailoring business so I was in a sewing environment when I was growing up. My parents also gave me a sewing machine for my high school graduation which I used for 30 years before I purchased my vintage Bernina. Before I began designing clothes I did a lot of personal sewing- mostly home decor projects. The only formal training in sewing I received was a basic class in high school as a part of a Homemaking course. Many of my greeting card designs incorporated stitching collage images on paper and that activity provided a natural segue to sewing clothes and accessories. The kind of sewing that I do- without patterns or specific details- is more intuitive than learned.

Q. Is LoriMarsha your full time job, or do you supplement your income with a 'day job'? 

LoriMarsha is my full time job. I am fortunate to be able to do what I love full time, at home.

Q. Where do you obtain your scarves from?

Primarily flea markets, textile shows and online venues like etsy or eBay. I rarely find silk scarves in the thrift stores anymore.

Q. I notice your etsy store does not have too much stock at present, where do you sell most of your work? 

I am finding that Etsy is not a great venue for me.  Because everything I do is one-of-a-kind, the amount of work to photograph and describe each piece is quite time consuming. At this point in time, I enjoy designing for existing clients, hosting open studios in my home and doing a few outdoor shows a year.

Q. Would you be able to show us your personal favorite finished project so far? 

This particular piece incorporates a deconstructed Jean Paul Gaultier jacket.  It took courage to cut up a designer garment but I felt great about how I transformed it

Q. What is the future of LoriMarsha?

I hope to be able to continue doing what I'm doing...while exploring alternative ways to recycle and restore clothing and accessories.

You can find LoriMarsha here, and on facebook