Riennynn the Renaissance & Regency Tailor

Adventures of a part-time seamstress

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Quick Project - Fabric Head Form
I was reading up on period hairstyles, including the making of hairpieces to augment one's own natural hair, and stumbled across Lynn McMasters' fabulous tutorial on Victorian evening 'dos at Your Wardrobe Unlock'd.  From there, I followed the link to her fabric head form pattern, and printed out the one for the smaller form, which she refers to as a chignon base.

I've been wanting another head form for displaying my wares besides the blindingly white and oh-so-modern styrofoam one, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try making one.  With only three pattern pieces, clear and simple instructions, and no fancy supplies, I set out.

  1. I chose a sturdy periwinkle blue cotton twill left over from another project.  Set out pattern pieces, making sure to pay attention to the grain line.  Had to do some fiddling to get the grain lines right when I folded, since my brain wasn't processing 45 and 90 degree angles correctly.
  2. Cut out pattern pieces and transfer markings.
  3. Pin together.
  4. Another view of the pins.

  1. Form turned right side out.  Decided not to press the seams as I figured stuffing it would fill them out nicely.  More on that later.
  2. Fitted over my styrofoam head just to see how it looks.
  3. Reminds me of a toaster or tea kettle cover, actually.

  1. No fiberfill or batting on hand, so I decide to use shredded paper.  After all, my trusty shredder has been chewing up junk mail and needs to be emptied.  This is a "before" shot showing how full the bin was.
  2. Start putting handfuls of paper shreds into the form.
  3. This is roughly four handfuls.
  4. Compressing the shreds.
  5. Continue filling, pressing down as needed.  The seams filled out nicely.
  6. "After" shot of the shredder bin, showing how much paper I used - I'd guess somewhere between a dozen and twenty handfuls.

  1. Cut the base pattern out of corrugated cardboard.  Lynn McMasters instructs you to cut two with the grain lengthwise and one with the grain widthwise, which provides a sturdier base.
  2. Hot glued base.
  3. Set the base on top of the shreds, fitting the edges of the fabric around it and making it straight.
  4. Press down and pull the edges up more firmly.  Cardboard pops out without my hand there - I figured this meant I'd filled the form enough.
  5. Hot glue the edges.  I normally am not a fan of hot glue, but in this case it works perfectly as I don't have an industrial stapler on hand.
  6. Dated and initialed the base (just in case I decide to sell this down the line).

  1. Finished and upright
  2. Front view
  3. Apparently I didn't stuff it as completely full as I initially thought.  Forgot that all that pressing down was flattening the top curve, so it didn't end up fully done.  Ahh well, a little late now to fix that.  
  4. Holding the head form up next to the styrofoam head for a size comparison.
  5. Weighs in at a little over 14 ounces - not too bad.  Heavier than styrofoam by a long shot, but that's a good thing in that it won't move or tip over as easy.
Overall time elapsed of less than an hour.  Two easy long seams to sew by machine, everything else taken care of my hand.  I had a large piece of fabric, but could easily be completed with a few oddly shaped scraps that don't even have to match.  Corrugated cardboard was leftover from packing and shipping, and I still have paper shreds galore from all the junk mail we deal with on a daily basis.

The finished head form is sturdy but has some give to it.  The paper filling is more forgiving that styrofoam, and I won't have to worry about making pits or wearing large channels from pinning in the same places.

It's not perfectly head-shaped; to do that, I'd have to use Lynn McMasters' other headform tutorial.  I was feeling lazy tonight, not to mention I don't have any 14 inch paper on hand to print out the pattern.

Paper doesn't spring back the way styrofoam does.  Pins don't sit as firmly, and it takes a bit of maneuvering to get them in straight.

Final Impressions?
Delightful use of an hour :)  Simple project, easily repeatable, and potentially profitable.


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