DIY Dress Form Cover & Custom Padding

I was fortunate to have a dress form handed down to me from a friend, I couldn’t afford one on my own.  It’s adjustable with measurement dials on the bust, waist and hips which helps tremendously.  Unfortunately it was lacking real curves and the original color was a dark and drab brown.  Believe me,  if I had money to spend on the Fabulous Fit system or a premade cover I wouldn’t have to come up with all these wacky DIY ideas. You may also notice the fabric I used is a cotton jersey.  I must admit, halfway through my project, I realized I used the wrong side of the fabric as the right side! I couldn’t start over, just had to keep sewing.  This is sort of an extensive tutorial for just padding and covering a form.  I would feel guilty leaving readers hanging by just saying cover your form with material and sew, self explanatory!  I had to break it down step by step so you’re not wondering if you missed anything.   Enjoy dear readers!

Supply List

  • cotton jersey
  • flathead pins
  • old padded bra that fits in cup area
  • cotton balls or quilt batting
  • twill fabric
  • bright colored thread for basting
  • disapearring ink pen
  • design ruler or french curve.

1. Start by cutting oval shaped pieces of cotton twill to cover the stomach, backside, and hip. You won’t need this for the bust because old bra cups will be used.

If you have batting or pillow stuffing,  that’s great!  Use that.  I did not have any,  so I improvised and used cotton balls.  I took cotton balls and started unwinding them.  Fluff up each piece to give it some body. There is no set amount of cotton balls,  you can use however many it takes to stuff the areas needed.  I did use the dials to get close to my measurements but I needed more curve.  That’s where the padding comes in.  Start placing strips of cotton on the stomach area where padding is needed.  It will stick on the form like a magnet. Once you have all the padding on,  place the twill on top and start pinning the edges of the twill on the form.

Repeat step 2 with both hip areas and back side area.

Cut off the straps of the old bra,  you’ll only be using the cups for the padding.  Place each cup where padding is needed and start pinning to the dress form.

2. Check measurements on bust, waist and hips.



3.  Start by draping the cotton jersery directly on top of the form.  You will have half draped on the front and half on the back. I already had roughly 2 yards of this fabric in my stash.  You can always measure your form to determine if more yardage is needed.

4.  Start pinching fabric at the sides starting at the neck and begin pinning all the way down.  Alternate from side to side to ensure fabric is even.  The seam you will create will run down each side.  Don’t worry about how the top of the neck looks like because it will pucker on the top.  That will be worked on later.

5.    When you get to the bust area,  form a dart (as shown) and pin your side.  Continue pinning all the way down to the end of the form.

6.  Start basting the entire pinned area.  Once basting is finished, remove pins.  I cut the excess fabric off while on the dress form.  I would imagine you can remove the cover from the form then cut,  but I chose not to.

7.  Remove the fabric from the form.  Place your cover on a flat surface,  take your design ruler or french curve and start marking your seam lines directly on the basting.

8.  Do not remove the basting yet,  it will be removed after you sew your seam.  Start sewing a zig zag seam on your marked lines.  Make sure your fabric is flat as you sew. Trim any extra fabric near the seam.

9.  Now it’s time for the top of the neck. Cut a circular piece of your cotton jersey just enough to cover the top. Mark the edge (as shown) This will be your seam. Set aside your circle piece.

10. While the cover is on the dress form,  carefully cut an opening on the top neck area as shown. See where I marked lines with my purple marker on the neck edge? This is where you join your circle piece to. Your going to line up the marked areas and baste together.


11. Cut notches on the edge of the circular piece and on the neck opening.  Baste together the two pieces.

12. Join the basted pieces together with a zig zag stitch. Stitch over the basting.

13.  As you’re stiching,  make sure the two pieces lie flat as you go.  You can remove any basting stitches if material starts to pucker as your sewing.  I did this process a little slower than any other area because it was the smallest area to work with.

14.  Place the cover back on the dress form.  Cut the extra material on the neck area.

15. Next,  determine the hem area to see how much to take up.  You will be feeding elastic or a drawstring through the hem,  so you will need a little length left to fold the hem under the dress form.  As you can see, there is plenty of length left on the hem.

16. Now we are going to create our hem for the drawstring.  All you have to is make sure your hem is big enough for you to feed the drawstring through.

17. Hem with a zig zag stitch.

18.  I snipped an opening in the hem to feed the string through.   I used a safety pin to feed it through,  I found it slides through quickly and easily.  Attach your safety pin to the end of your drawstring,  here I used elastic which was all I had on hand.

19. Feed the string through your hem until you reach the other end and remove your safety pin.  Let plenty of string hang on both ends,  leave enough out to draw up the string and tie together.  Clip both ends of your string, draw it up, tie together and tuck the knot underneath.

Now she’s camera ready for new projects!  This form I used is made entirely of Styrofoam which allowed me to use pins for the scrap twill pieces and bra cups.  A few other suggestions if you have a different kind of dress form – If it’s a hard dress form and you can’t run a pin through it,  you can try taping the pieces.  If you have a body shaper,  that can work too.  Omit the twill pieces and use the shaper in place of the twill.  It should hold your stuffing in place firmly.

Happy sewing!


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