bootstrap dress form tutorial: preparing your pattern

Bootstrap’s new dress form pattern is incredible, and I am here to help make it a reality for you!


The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting

So many dressmakers struggle with fit when they sew for themselves. It becomes obvious relatively early on, that a body double would be a wonderful helpmate – and that is where dress forms come in. You can purchase standard dress forms, and those help a great deal. Standard forms can be expensive, and they are not shaped for realistic posture and distribution of body fat for the vast majority. There are other options: custom forms that are more expensive still. You can make your own through various DIY processes, but these methods can be arduous and can result in an ugly mannequin which for some, is a dealbreaker. Some people who want a form don’t want to have a “buddy” measure and wrap them in duct tape.

You get the idea.

The new Bootstrap pattern eliminates all these issues! I am very excited for this project as it is not only a great boon to my own studio, but making one is the perfect gift for another seamstress! And I already know who is first on my list! 🙂

So for those new(ish) to sewing, this project is easy enough for a committed beginner, but it also is a bit of a detailed process. My advice is to carefully read through this post first, before starting. Don’t worry if you get too overwhelmed when reading ahead. The instructions provided in the pattern are second-to-none, and I will be blogging my efforts over the next few days. You can also post questions here at my site.

Today, I will be covering taking measurements and body build, generating your pattern, and gathering your supplies.

Bootstrap’s dress forms involve two versions: a misses size, and a plus size (I will be creating a misses size for this sew-along; the processes are identical, however). The plus size version is shaped with a bit more curvature, as you can easily see from the site’s photos. But both forms correct for posture, shoulder shape, belly protuberance, and buttocks shape. There are also additional measurements you can take to customize the form: neck circumference, shoulder width, bust height, front length, back length, and back width. In short, this form includes every posture variance you can imagine, for a torso.

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

You will first need to create a Bootstrap Fashion account, before proceeding. This is very simple (just in case, here is my walk-through on the Tea & Crumpet sew-along from 2016). Next, select the pattern: misses size, or plus. You will notice immediately there are a series of fields you need to fill out, as well as a “fit adjustments” tab that includes more measurements. I will first go over the measurements listed under “customize”, as those are all that are needed to generate your pattern.

bootstrap dress form sal measurements

Before starting, I find it helpful to tie a string around one’s waist (where the body creases, if you bend to the side. If you do not have a prominent C7 vertebrae at the base of the neck, you can put on a necklace and the point where the necklace naturally hangs, will serve as that location.

Height is self-explanatory; most of us know our height. If you do not, or if you are making for someone else, simply stand in sock feet at a wall and use a pencil to make a mark flush with the top of the head. Then, step away from the wall and measure, with a tape perpendicular to the floor, the height. Let’s move on.


bootstrap measurement bust

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


bootstrap measurement underbust

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


This measurement is taken directly over the string you tied.

bootstrap measurement waistBootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


Measure around the fullest part of your hips and buttocks. If you have a large bum and also a protruding tummy that is higher up on the body than this measurement, don’t worry – we’ll be adding another metric in to account for belly ease.

bootstrap measurement low hip

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


I put these three together as one full-body side profile picture will tell the tale here. Please take a photo rather than relying on your own “sense” of your figure, or your client’s figure.

bootstrap measurement belly protuberance bootstrap measurement buttocks shape bootstrap measurement evaluate posture

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

My model here is a belly protuberance B, an “average” buttocks shape, and a straight back.


This is another metric best served by a photo. You can see my model has between a “square” and “normal” shoulder slope.

bootstrap measurement shoulder slope

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

Those are all the measurements you need, to print your pattern! You will be selecting the method of deployment (I select a 36″ pdf to print at the copy shop, as I dislike printing and taping). If you like, you can “Get a Free Pattern Preview”, in order to look at your pattern first before purchasing it:

bootstrap free pattern preview

For this preview, you simply proceed as if making a purchase – you will be “charged” $0.00. After you complete your purchase and the pattern builds (this takes no longer than 15 minutes), you can view the preview either via the Bootstrap email that will be deployed (check your Junk Mail folder if you do not see it in your Inbox), or under your “My Account” page, by clicking TO ACCESS YOUR PATTERNS, PLEASE CLICK HERE>>. Bootstrap stores all your patterns and instructions in this kiosk.

bootstrap to access your patterns

Once you are satisfied, you can purchase the pattern as per the above steps.

Now, I will speak to the “fit adjustments” second tab. These measurements are not required to generate your pattern. You should only add them if you are sure. You can also get a free preview of your pattern to check to see that things look good; however if you are a newbie, you may not even know enough to know if your generated pattern is off, or not! In that case, I’d suggest sticking with the measurements in the “customize” feature only.

So here are the fit adjustments:

bootstrap measurements fit adjustment


bootstrap measurement neck circumference

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


This is measured between bony shoulder points. Most people have a curvature here, so go ahead and measure directly atop this curvature if so.

bootstrap measurement shoulder width span

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


I’ve said a mouthful! I include these together as you can take them at the same time. You are measuring from the C7 bony point at the neck, around and atop the bust apex, and down perpendicular to the waist. The number on the tape at the bust apex, is your bust height measurement. The number at the wait, front length.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


This is a measurement familiar to many of us. We measure from the C7 neck point, straight down to the waist.

bootstrap measurement back length

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.


This is measured across the shoulder blades, right where the skin of the arm meets the skin of the back.

bootstrap measurement back widthNote in this photo below, it looks like the measurement is too low; it is not, it is just that by bending their arms back, the model has effectively lifted the crease height up. This is the one measurement here that is best-served by having someone assist you – you can take the measurement with your clothes on, and let your partner feel for the crease.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

Having taken our additional measurements, we can add the pattern, preview, and purchase.

Now let’s talk about our supplies!

Once you’ve purchased your pattern, you will note (in both your email and your My Account patterns files) that the pattern includes a very thorough series of directions, that detail supplies. Read through your directions – don’t worry if you’re a bit confused, as the instructions are thorough and will help you through the process.

Here are my supplies, and a few notes about them:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

I will be using a main fabric (mid-to-heavyweight with drape cotton twill), an interfacing to interface the entire shell of the form, and an interlining fabric for structural support (a mid-to-heavyweight duck). The instructions talk a bit more about fabric requirements. I will also need cardboard for the neck, armhole, and bottom of the form. I need a PVC pipe from 36″ to 48″ long, sized at a diameter that will fit over the stand I plan to use (this is important, as we will cut an inner sleeve to fit snugly over this PVC. I also need two zippers for the bottom closure, adhesive to glue the interlining to the PVC, cutting implements to cut the cardboard templates, and poly-fill (2 kg to 5 kg or 5 to 12 lbs).

So there we have it! I will be blogging my progress through the form through early August. If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to comment here! If you have any issues with Bootstrap, do email Yuliya (you will get an email from her when you buy your pattern) – she is very responsive.

So let’s get to it!

Rock and Roll!

Customize your pattern here: MISSES or PLUS

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)


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