Accurate measurements are imperative to achieving the perfect fit. And I am not just talking about the standard bust-waist-hips measurement.
I take a detailed set of around 40 measurements. These measurements give me a mathematical map of the woman’s body and (along with a few snapshots) the ability to recreate her exact curves onto a professional dress form.
Over the years, I have seen all kinds of articles featuring very creative ways to recreate a body onto a dress form. Here you can read about how to replicate a body using plaster and varnish: http://jezebel.com/5803791/how-to-make-a-custom-dress-form-part-one
Here’s one using duct-tape: http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3659/clone-yourself-a-fitting-assistant
There is a Threads Magazine article called “Bodybuilding for a Better Fit” (its from 1989 so I can’t find a link to it) that gives you detailed instructions on how to carve layers of styrofoam with a saw to create the perfect body double.
To me, all of this seems too involved, too invasive and incredibly messy!
I make a dress form for each client using measurements and padding. I start with a professional dress form that is smaller than my bride, and using mostly strips of quilted fabric and shoulder pads, I slowly sculpt an exact replica of her body. It is definitely an art, taking a lot of skill and patience to get all of the numbers and curves to match up, but I find it to be an incredibly fun puzzle.
For obvious privacy reasons, I usually opt not to post a photo of the unclothed dress form of the bride.
This photo shows a replica of ME all padded out next to an unpadded professional dress form. I repeat, this is not Greta. This dress form is padded out to MY unique proportions.
As you can see, the shoulder points and the waistlines are pretty much lined up next to each other. Yet, my bust is much lower and larger, I am much more short-waisted, and also a bit wider in almost every area. I’ve got the normal lumps and bumps that real women have, whereas my unpadded form is completely smooth and, for most of us, unrealistically proportioned.
Once I am happy with my padded sculpture, I cover it with fabric (not shown) to make everything smoother and less distracting. The entire surface of my custom dress form is pinnable and temporary. I can change the padding if the bride changes shape at all during the process, as well as break it down after the wedding to prepare for my next bride.
Once I’ve got all my bride’s measurements, and her custom dress form is created, I can get to work draping and patternmaking for her one-of-a-kind wedding dress!