Recovering an Acme Dressmaker’s Dummy: Gluey, Dusty Fun!!

Approximately 2 years ago, in a fit of creativity and energy, I decided that I had absolutely had to recover my old dressmaker’s dummy RIGHT NOW. Luckily for me, my partner was in a very agreeable mood and happy to keep the kids occupied while I dismantled the whole thing and labelled it. In my rush to start, I didn’t take any photos before dismantling but hopefully you get the picture. The fabric looks very institutional and was a bit stained and musty smelling.

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Then I ripped off all the old fabric (outside under the pergola) which resulted in old, dusty glue everywhere!! I sanded the old glue off with 60 grit sandpaper and a sanding block. As you can see in the above picture, the left front piece had been sanded and the right hadn’t. Sanding off the old glue (with a dust mask on) meant the surface would take the new glue better. I used a contact adhesive which I applied to both the dummy pieces and the fabric.

Once upon a time there used to be a Dimmeys near us, and I was lucky enough to pick up 6 metres of thick cotton cream fabric for $6. I love cream fabric and knew I would use it one day. Ta-da! Perfect Opportunity!

Original sticker!! All the way from the US.

Original sticker!! All the way from the US.

I lay the fabric outside and drew around each piece of the dummy with a 6B pencil and labelled that too. Then I cut it all out with my excellent Singer dressmaking scissors. And then I proceeded to use my very strong glue to glue each piece of fabric onto the dummy parts. I stretched the fabric as I did it and snipped some of the edges near the curves to help smooth it all out properly.

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Finished product.....what do you think?

Finished product…..what do you think?

I left this to dry overnight outside, and then re-assembled the next day. Oh the joy!! I was so pleased with this!! It just looks so much better. My partner also spray painted the stand black, which finished it off nicely. I bought this dummy off Ebay for $65, it is solid but does lean slightly. Adjusting the size is something of a chore too, you have to reach inside the armholes, and up the skirt (ooer!) to loosen the wingnuts and slide the bars along to expand the pieces. However, it has been really handy, for dressmaking, and for selling clothes on Ebay, and I wouldn’t part with it. One day, when I have the room, I will buy a new dummy/dressform as an addition, not a replacement. Maybe the one reviewed by Lladybird  here. If I could ever afford the shipping from the US! Or maybe a Project Runway one……hmmm.

Now, there were a few things I wish I could have improved upon: firstly, I didn’t fix the lean, I really should have done that because hemming will always be fraught with problems. Secondly, her baggy neck. I wish I’d had the patience to glue the neck section a bit at a time. For instance, glue a small bit, let it dry, then stretch the remaining fabric, glue a bit more, and then keep going until the whole neck was smooth. It just would have looked a whole lot better, but actually doesn’t impede on the dummy’s function.

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I hope this post helps someone else have a go at recovering their dummy or dressform, it was very satisfying and heaps of fun. I really enjoyed doing it, and every project I have a go at gives me the nerve to try the next one. Let me know what you think. Have you ever had a go at recovering a dressmaker’s dummy?

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