Refurbish an Old Mannequin or Dress Form

It was evident the sewing bug would get to me eventually, with both of my grandmothers being the seamstresses that they were.  My Maw Maw made all my Sunday dresses while my Granny made special things and costumes for me.  Granny was a seamstress for a living, and my favorite thing about her house was "Maude", her dress form.  When I stayed with Granny, she would show me her extra stash bash, hand me a box of safety pins and let me go to work on my own designs.  I would make sure Maude was right in front of the long mirror just like a model.

I inherited Maude after my Granny passed away.  For the longest I was scared to use it again because it was so old, I didn't want to tear it up.  I finally brought it home from my parents house and started to use it.  My daughter also liked it, just like I did, and wanted to dress it up.  It didn't take long for her to tear the thread bear fabric that covered it.  It was upsetting to me, because I didn't want it to lose the charm it had from when it was at Granny's house.  I didn't know what to do, so I put it up again.

I really needed a dress form, but buying a new one just did not seem right.  So I began searching online for the best technique and asking around for advice.  One suggestion kept coming back up: duck tape.

Finally this weekend I decided to brave it.  I adjusted from the inside as much as I could, but the bolts are starting to rust and fall apart.  I started with each seam and taped them in place.  I stretched, pulled and all but stood on my head to get the pieces to line back up again.  Once all the main seams were in tact, I began to fully coat the form with duct tape, taking my time and smoothing it out as I went.  It only took one 55 yard roll of basic duck tape-less than $3-and about 2 1/2 hours to complete.  I turned on the Discovery ID and watched Strange Stories of the ER and fully took my time.  It's not perfect, but I think it will work quite nicely.

What do you think?



  1. You did a great job. I have a dress form like that one that belonged to my seamstress aunt. My mother "lent it out" to a seamstress friend of hers when I went away to college who let it get wet during a ceiling leak. I have the pieces tucked away and want to one day refurbish it. I want to figure out how to keep the fabric underneath because I love the antique look of it. You did a really good job with the duct tape. Looks good!

  2. Thank you so much :) I have the old fabric underneath the duck tape, but it was starting to tear up and peel off. I actually would like to go back over it again with a real strong duck tape now because the tape is coming loose around the bottom. It stays pretty humid here and that doesn't help. I'm considering a mod podge/paper mache over it. Not real sure how that would work, still brainstorming! I would love to see yours if you decide to refurb it :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Planning an Organized Home - Part 1 - Chore Charts

What Happened to January?

100 Days of Holiday Inspiration-Ribbon Ball Keychain-88 Days & Counting