Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Got Arms?

Most sewists and dressmakers do not have a dummy with arms, and it is generally because most of us have an economical and adjustable dummy model, rather than a higher quality, fixed-size professional model (and even these don't usually come with arms). So, what if you need arms for your dummy and you don't have them? You make them! 

The most effective and inexpensive way to make dummy arms is to get old school and pull a playing card from the high-end department stores and boutiques, whose skilled and talented visuals staff constructs the displays that draw us in and encourage us to depart with our cash. Think soft, adjustable, and removable, just like the arms used in the males manikins pictured above left. Of course, these arms aren't glamorous or realistic looking, but they work very well to determine the general fit of a garment and for staging a costume. 

Let's begin...

No. 1: You'll need a bit of fiber fill, about 1/2 yards of cotton or cotton-like fabric (I used some leftover craft felt), two wire hangers, pliers (or wire cutters), and masking or duck tape (not shown). 

No. 2: Measure the length of your arm from the top of the shoulder socket to wrist, and the circumference of your wrist for later (my arm is 20" long and my wrist is 7" around). Using the pliers or cutters, snip the hangers two inches shorter than your arm length. 

No. 3: Using about 1/4 yard - or half - of your fabric (from the fold of the fabric to the salvage edge), cut two long 1/8 yard strips (one for the left arm and one for the right), and tightly wrap these around the hanger wire and tape off the ends. 

No. 4: With your remaining 1/4 yard of fabric, slice it into two pieces across the fold line - these will be your arms and they should both measure about 9" wide. Cut the width of the fabric to the width of your wrist, adding a 1/2 seam allowance. NOTE: If your wrist is wider than 9", you will need more fabric for this step. 

No. 5: Fold the arm tubes in half length-wise and sew across the top edge on one end only, then about 3" down the side. Then, dog-ear the top corners and trim the ears; turn right side out...

No. 6: Using a good-size wad of fiber fill, begin wrapping this around the fabric covered wire. This takes a bit of finessing, but you can do it. (Does anyone else think that this looks like larvae?)

No. 7: Take a small bit of fiber fill and stuff the finished end of the arm tube; then, insert one end of the covered hanger wire. Pulling the sides of the arm tubes together (the edges should be slightly rolled under), begin to hand-stitch the tube together (I used a blanket stitch). It will take a bit of finger dexterity, but we dressmakers are know for our awesome dexterous skills...  

No. 8:  Once the arm tube is stitched up to the other end of the hanger wire (but no further - you should have about 2"+ of excess fabric from here), secure the side seam, then close the tube by stitching across and over to the folded side, leaving the excess fabric of the tube.

Your finished arms should look like this, with the excess fabric being the tab from which you will secure the arms to your dummy. 

Simply pin them on to give your garment greater shape and definition...

 Leave the bag for the cat...

Blessings and happy sewing, my friends! 

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