Building a flexible dress form


One thing I've always disliked about patternmaking on dress forms, even high-quality ones, is that they don't squish and compress the way a real body does. So I've been thinking I'd like to make a dress form that can do a little better.

My idea is to make a negative mold of my torso out of plaster bandages, and to then coat the inside of that with a layer of flexible foam, about an inch thick. Inside that would be something rigid so that the whole thing can keep its shape. As you may have guessed I'm not sure about the details of this project yet. I wanted to see if anyone had done something similar and if so how it worked out.

One of my main concerns is if the flexible foam (I'm looking at flexible urethane foam from smooth-on) is springy enough to recover its original shape even if it's kept corseted for a week at a time or so. Those of you who've worked with it before, do you have any thoughts on this?


Well-Known Member

My wife has the same complaint about dress forms.

For a recent costume project she ordered from Uniquely You and got a form that solved the problem.
It's soft foam form that you cover in a fabric cover made to your measurements. It compresses the foam to become your size.

For this particular project, Lynne created a custom cover ( the client had Lynda Carters measurements from the show! ) and we pieced together the torso form and the pant form to create a form that she could build a custom WW costume on.

It survived just fine being corseted for long periods of time.

We plan on doing a custom form for Lynne much like you described one day.

Hope this helps!


Uniquely You Dress Form TAN, Your Shape with Alterable Zippered Cotton Cover, P, S, M, Lg 1-10, Pinable Foam Rubber, Adjustable Height Stand, Made USA at


I got a response from customer service/tech support at Smooth-On which basically convinced me that I should wait on this til I have a bit more experience casting and molding ... also possibly a bit bigger budget to work with.

I checked out the Uniquely You forms. Looks like the base forms are sized such that they couldn't be altered to fit both my chest and my hips. I'm that pear-shaped. Ah well--it's good to know at least that the foam will stand up to that sort of thing.


Well-Known Member
Pick up some PVC to make the core of the dress form and then my suggestion would to use some soft - medium foam that you could then build out to the shape of your figure. You could hot glue the foam onto the form to make sure it stays in place and it would be easier then trying to make a core and then pour expanding foam.

Just another option.



The other way I was thinking of, that wouldn't involve casting, would be to layer inch-thick cross-sections of foam. I've seen this done with the cross-sections coming from a 3d body scan, but they could be made by slicing a paper-tape dress form and tracing the outlines, too. It'd be a decent amount of work though.


Well-Known Member
An electric carving knife makes quick work while carving foam. You could stack the foam into a cylinder and carve out the shape fairly quickly.



Sr Member
Remember your musculature and bone though.

You want the squish to be where you actually squish which is usually mostly at the bust and waist. Hips and ribs don't flex enough.

I did experiment with a duct tape double which was stuffed with old cloth scraps and had a fabric cover. I'd use padding to between where I needed. The only proplem was over time the stuffing all shifted to the waist.

I'd recommend a duct tape double as a start, trim it down to the size of your chest and hips and have the waist a little smaller than your corseted figure. Then pad with a firm foam cut to shape and then a fabric shell.

Or find a cheap store mannequin two sizes smaller and wrap that in foam and a fabric shell. Again the only issue is that the bust is usually rigid so you may need to cut the mannequin a bit.


Sr Member
Hi, my wife also for the uniquely you dress for and loved it, the only difficult part is having someone pin the cover up while you wear to get the cover to match your body, then you have to either cut or fill in areas to match your curves. We did while she wore it inside out that way there was no need to flip the cover to sew it.
She's draped a lot of clothing on it already and likes it. It was also not very expensive and decent shipping on amazon.


Master Member
I agree on the duct tape. For best results, you could probably set up your regular dress form as the skeleton, with the chest and hips at their appropriate size for your bones, then make a duct tape mannequin of yourself and put it on the form like a suit, then stuff it.
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