I would like to start out with a little bit of fitting background information. When researching the Uniquely You dressmaker’s model, I had difficulty finding anyone with special circumstances write anything specific. So here goes!
I am 5′7″, 32 years old, mother of two, and have never had a model that actually looked like me. I could never even find one that mimicked my measurement, let alone my shape! I have an extra lumbar vertebrae. This causes 2 BIG fitting issues. 1)The bodice is always too short in any dress or dress pattern. 2) The extra couple of inches of space below the lowest rib makes for a small waistline. Sure, your thinking everyone wants a small waistline, however no clothing or pattern manufactures actually account for one! Add to this narrow shoulders, 32E cup size, and hips over 40 inches. Currently my hips are at 44″ and that is mostly out the back. They have not been under 40″ since I was 16 years old. So my measurements today are 39-29-44. However, that does not do enough to describe my shape. Shape is important when making clothing, so much more so that just measurements. Even sewing my own clothing has been frustrating–trying to fit myself on myself. I just don’t get that much time to sit and sew in one stretch, so I need to make every 15 minutes count. I like nice clothing, but end up in t-shirts and knit or loose a-line skirts, because anything more difficult won’t get finished before I give up.
Enter Uniquely You.
The premise of Uniquely You caught my attention immediately. It is a polyurethane foam rubber model that you squeeze into shape via a stiff cover. They offer a range of sizes of covers and 4 different model bases–none of which included all of my measurement. I was not to be deterred! I picked out (for Mother’s Day) the size medium foam base, as this was in range for my bust and waist, and size 8 cover. I knew both of these choices would be too small for my hips, but I do know how to add gussets. I was concerned that the medium-large foam base would not squeeze in enough for my waist–a concern that was confirmed after fitting the medium.
My husband ordered it from Atlanta Thread Co. because they have the best price, and were running a sale that covered the cost of shipping. It showed up the Wednesday after Mother’s Day. I was so excited, that even though no one was around to help I had to start fitting Thursday afternoon. I just couldn’t wait any longer! lol I followed the instructions included, making a few improvisations to better fit my shape. I put the waist darts in as instructed, but also took in the waist at the 2 back seams. Since my hips stick out the back more than the sides, this is the same place I always have to take in patterns. The top half was fairly simple to fit, even by myself. I put in extra darts, and even took some of the fabric in at the seams above my bust. Taking in the shoulder seams to account for my sloping shoulders, I did not need an further darts in that area. After getting a snug fit on my upper body, I decided to try it on the model just to see.
Serious problem right away! Although I used the stitch length recommended by the manufacturer, the fabric started to immediately pull at the seams near my waist. I tried double stitching those seams to no avail. The only thing left that I new would work was to reinforce every seam with twill tape. I couldn’t do this until all the seams were fitted, so I had to keep going.
I did pretty well fitting the hips by myself. After fitting the top, it was hard to breath and bend over in the cover. I fit the top of the hips, then added fabric for gussets at the thighs. The back side seams were completely open and the bias tape popped off at the bottom. I got the back fitted down to the curve of my bottom, the thigh gussets the right size, and then I needed help. There was no way I could accurately pin any lower down my bottom. Despite reservations, my husband agreed to help. The fabric would not quite meet down my bottom, even with the well placed thigh gussets. So I got out some 1 3/4″ gross grain ribbon for him to pin snuggly to each size of the cover fabric. This took an excruciatingly long time as I stood there not being able to breath or move, with my ankles and legs together! Whew! When completed, I sewed it up; tried the whole thing back on to double check, then reinforced all the seams, except for front center and zipper, with green gross grain ribbon (I was currently out of twill tape). The bias tape at bottom went back on as far as it would go, then some fold-over elastic made up the difference.
In retrospect, I should have not reinforced the side seams until checking the fit on the foam. The instructions warn that the first run at the finished sizing will be a little bit off because of the pressure the foam puts on the cover. Sure enough, every measurement was 1″ too big. Also, I had tried to add one piece of additions padding to make up for my thighs and bottom. This did not quite look right. Even though I had taken in the waist at the back on my cover, the foam underneath had the bottom rounding out too high for my long torso. This distorted the shape of my waist at the back. Since every other seam was strongly reinforced, the fabric was starting to rip at the zipper! Sigh. Off came the cover and one went the brain.
Reinforcing the zipper by folding the fabric over at the seam on each side, sewing it 1/4″ further in, then topstitching took care of the ripping fabric AND the extra inch. Then my big Ginzu knife came out to shave a bit off the top the foam butt. I cut the extra padding into 3 pieces–one for each thigh and one for bottom. I used 1.5″ foam for this project. Time for Foam Wrestling Round 2!
Squeezing the foam model into the cover sure works up a sweat, but it all went on without any further ripping or pulling. I added the extra foam where needed. The inch and a half was not quite enough at the bottom, so I added some batting in between the model and 1.5″ foam. Low and behold, the model looks pretty much like I do! Success in one day! And it was put to use for the first time yesterday to solve a problem on a 2yo unfinished dress!
Here are some pictures of the finished model:
Right side, note thigh gusset
Back, you can see that the top of the extra butt foam is higher than the extra thigh foam.
Front, I have since adjusted the cover on the left to be down further from the neck a bit.