The Free Motion Quilting Project: An Interesting Form of Therapy

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An Interesting Form of Therapy

With a title like that, how shall I begin? Well, let me just throw myself out on the screen:

free motion quilting | Leah Day

Yep, that's ME! Today I sucked up my pride and pulled on a turtleneck and had my husband duct tape me from neck to hips to create a new dress form. The therapy came in several forms:

- Patience therapy - I cannot rush this, I must stand still, and I cannot micromanage this process.

- Trust therapy - I must trust Josh to do a good job taping and cutting it off without slicing me in half too!

- Self love and acceptance therapy - This is my body right now. Deal with it, accept it, love it Leah!

You might be looking at my dress form thinking "what's the big deal?" but the fact is we all can feel sensitive about our weight. No matter if you are generally big or small, it's not easy seeing the real deal in all it's glory.

But it is what it is. That is me and for once, I'm not going to spiral into a whirl of defeated gloom about my pooch or wide shoulders, I'm just going to accept this form, my form, for what it is. It's me!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
Now I probably wouldn't have gone to all this trouble a month ago. I was perfectly happy with my adjusted Lucy the way she was. I had taken my measurements and adjusted her to where I thought we were a pretty close match.

Yeah right...

When you sew a garment to fit your dressmaker dummy, chances are it's going to fit your dummy really well. Your body? Not so much.

I have really enjoyed sewing shirts lately and like having something custom to wear, particularly in videos. The thing is these shirts could fit much BETTER. They could feel more comfortable to wear. They could look better on me, no matter what my body looks like underneath.

It just so happened that I recently signed up for the Craftsy class Curvy Crochet because I wanted to learn tips about increasing and decreasing in crochet. Included in the class is a hilarious step-by-step breakdown of how to make a duct tape dress form.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
I decided I must have one, but I don't really have a friend close enough to...well...basically feel me up for an afternoon! lol. I showed the lesson to Josh and between fits of laughter (the instructor, Marly Bird, really has a great sense of humor), he agreed to tape me up.

I'm really, really happy to have this finished duct tape form because it's actually true to me, and for once I could easily see why fitting was such an issue. I have wide shoulders, a sway back, and long torso, and all of these things present unique fitting challenges.

Getting over the fact that my body is imperfect is actually easy when I consider how much easier it will be to fit and make garments that look great.

So now I'm off to put the finishing touches on this new Lucy, and maybe cut out a new shirt while I'm at it. Cross your fingers that this one fits perfectly!

Let's go quilt,



  1. way to go Leah! I love garment sewing and enjoy seeing you get into it, too. I know just what you mean about body acceptance and getting a good fit. Sewing is such a positive way to get past those insecurities we all have and enjoy custom clothing.

  2. Hi leah I made one of these with my husband and I understand completely it was so scary to see myself what a sight, the trouble is I'm in a wheelchair and had to keep lying down and my husband says some of the strange shape is because I had lie down, I'm not so sure. It bought back memories of being in body casts for months on end. Now I have to hide it, we even scared my son with it putting it behind the sofa not a pretty site and would scare anyone! Thank you for sharing it, I hope now to have some clothes to fit me xxx

  3. Good for you! Sewing for yourself is not easy. I have much better luck sewing for my girls :)

    It's nice to see Josh too.

  4. Cool! How much duct tape did it take?

  5. Thank you for addressing body issues so well!!

  6. That looks so useful! I think I am going to make one as well. It should make fitting a whole lot easier so it is probably worth the space that it takes up when not in use.

  7. Hi Michelle - We used 3 rolls of white duck tape and then just a tiny bit of a contrasting color to mark out my natural waste. I'll probably use 1 more roll to go around and clean it up and secure it completely to the original dress form.

  8. Oh! I recently took a class on making a dress form like this, except we used the brown paper mailing tape. You have to wet it to stick but it dries super hard like papier mache.

    Since we got mummified by classmates, we got "super close". I did make a new friend though...

  9. It looks to me like dear hubby was enjoying this. I would trade my body for yours any day of the week. Suffice it to say, I am older and "fluffier" so I would never have my husband duck tape me. And where would I fit the thing? It would need it's own room. LOL
    Great idea. I hope you put some fun color tape or stickers on Lucy. Liven her up.

  10. Great! I did this several years ago. Duct tape was great, but do cover that with a final cover of clear tape as the duct tape stretches out of shape over time. I did this final layer and my measurements on the dummy are still the same after a few years...

  11. 'getting over the fact that my body is imperfect is actually easy......'. That line struck me.

    Just so you know, I believe that everyone is their own perfect self. Now your body may not fit the pattern made by the pattern companies, but that doesn't mean you are imperfect. Your shoulders are perfect FOR YOU. The pattern is imperfect.

    Now repeat after me..... 'I am the perfect me!' You are the only you, and therefore, perfect for you, no matter where you are on your journey in life. No matter how much you change and learn and grow, you will always be the perfect you. At least I think so, and wanted to let you know.

    Anyway, I hope you won't see any more 'imperfections' and that you have fun sewing and wearing your new shirts!

  12. I did that when I was about 50. It was a real shock to see what I actually looked like. I ended up losing a couple dress sizes.

  13. It is driving me mad that everyone is using the word waste instead of waist!!! Waste means rubbish. However I am fascinated by the idea of making a duct tape body as a dress form. It looks so useful, but I wonder, do you need a dress form first to attach the duct tape body to?

  14. Any ideas on how to mount this without a dress form? (I'd rather not buy one that I won't use.)

  15. You have been a great motivator, Leah. Thank you for sharing your creativity. I think most of us can sew a straight line, but can't always decide what to do with all these lines and curves. Keep up the great work!

  16. Thread dancer and Unknown - No, you don't have to use a dress form for the duct tape. I decided to use mine because I didn't want 2 floating around my house. You can always tape, then stuff it and have it be a model that just sits under the table when not in use. Definitely check out the Craftsy class because she goes into a lot of detail about taping and stuffing that you really can't find anywhere else!

  17. I am so glad to see this post. I need a dress form and they are way to expensive. I am a bigger girl and this will help me get just the right dimensions in my clothes that are more difficult without the form. Thanks


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