Decorate Your Own Dress Forms

The history of the dress form dates back to ancient Egypt. Historians are not sure if they were used to make clothing or hold clothing, but either way they had a job.  Over hundreds of years dress forms have come in all shapes and sizes so that clothing could be made properly.  Dress forms can be very simple and archaic or they can be very mechanical and elaborate, even having the ability to get skinny and fat with the twist of a knob. We wish we could change sizes that easily!

Dress forms can be found today for function, style and creativity.  While some are still used for their intended purpose to assist in the clothes making process, others are used for shop decor, clothing display or as a craft blank.  Today on the blog, Crew Member Donna Budzynski shares with us some amazing dress forms she designed with a vintage vibe.  

Dress Form PartsDress forms can be made from a number of materials or created with found objects, the choice is yours.

dress form bodice

Donna brings out the gypsy in her as she creates her vintage dress forms.  No two are alike, even when she uses similar materials. Here is Donna’s story:

I love the challenge of a great altered project. So many have asked where I got the idea to start altering dress forms. Well to tell the truth the first one was actually a jewelry holder. I cut off the hooks for the jewelry and started to weave paper into the metal areas and I made a paper skirt with ruffles and that is how this crazy obsession started.


Since then I have turned into a monster hoarder of vintage bits and bobbles. I have been collecting junk/treasure for years now. I hit vintage sales, garage sales and even picked up rusty junk off the ground. You would be surprised at what you can find on the ground!

Paper Dress Form

My best treasures are springs, pipes, vintage keys and vintage water handles. Vintage jewelry are a good thing to pick up also….the ones that have lots of charms on them. Things with numbers are fun also. What is nice about this stuff is I can also use it in other altered art I create.

steampunk dress form

I have made bases out of wood boxes, vintage cans, vintage oil lamps, upside down candle holders and a favorite is the wood vintage thread spindles and bobbins. I am lucky that my husband also keeps his eyes open for things to create with. His thinking is….if it is rusty or has a hole in it she will use it! He knows me so well!images (7)

I have quite a collection of bits and bobbles, rusty and vintage, new and old. I have 3 medium size covered containers full, one is overflowing! But these are my go to containers for so many projects.

Paper Pieced Dress Form

Some of my altered dress forms can get very hard to put together and I do ask for my husband’s help and suggestions. He is VERY supportive in my art, NOT so much of my messy work area! LOL!

At CHA this year we had the honor of having one of Donna’s dress forms share the show floor with the gypsies and to say we were a little giddy is just not the truth, we were a lot giddy.  Donna created this amazing piece of art dress form art with found objects, 7gypsies papers and embellishments and some gypsy love.

What better way to celebrate the 4th of July than with an American inspired dress form that Donna Created using the 7gypsies American Vintage Collection.  This fun paper and embellishment collection features famous streets, states and places to go across America.  It is a great reminder of the freedom we have as we stop and appreciate the special parts of this great county or ours.  

Dress form final project

No detail was too small in this piece and every time we took a peek we noticed something else that was oh so cool.

Step 4

Let’s start at the top with a bodice of pure paper that look so much like fabric you just have to touch it.

Step 3 - Water Spicket HandleNext her arms are made with this and that.

Step 8

Wrapped around the perfect tiny waist is a corset of paper, leather and vintage silk ribbon.

Dress from embellishments

With a side of vintage bling.

Skirt Embellishments

And a few buckles that hold it all together or so they appear.

Step 6

The skirt of license plates, takes you across the USA one state at a time, with each one individually added to make the perfect dress.

step 9 - american vintage

And a chain of charms to finish off the jewelry decor.

Dress form 7gypsies

The added touch of a vintage 7gypsies label was so great to see.

Step 1 Box for Dress Form

A wooden rod helps our form stand in place and covered with paint, paper and distress ink, which are all in perfect taste.

Box for dress form decorated

The square wooden base is strong and sturdy, wrapped in famous street signs that make us long for the journey.  

Dress form final project

So put it all together and what do you have?  A fantastic body made of paper, spunk and vintage vibe.


Materials Used

Tattered Angels Chalkboard Paint – Ruby Slipper
7gypsies American Vintage Collection
7gypsies Frames
7gypsies Gears
Paper Mache Dress Form
Wood box
Misc. Lace
Grunge Paper Tim Holtz
Buckles Tim Holtz
Pulleys Tim Holtz
Misc. Springs Vintage
Long screws 2
Wood knobs
Water spigot handles Vintage
Distress Ink Tim Holtz Vintage Photo

Tools Used

E6000 glue
Sewing Machine
Paper trimmer
Hole punch/Cropadile
Crafter’s Pick The Ultimate Glue

Step 1- Drill hole in center of wood box and adhere and screw spindle to box.

Step 1 Box for Dress Form

Step 2 – Cut back of dress form open at back bottom, then cut a hole for spindle to go into the form and add a washer and nut to tighten.

Step 3- Make holes for screws in both arms on the dress form. Add screws, springs, and water spigot handle, then tighten with a washer and nut. Do the same for neck.

Step 3 - Water Spicket Handle

Step 4- I painted my dress form with Tattered Angels Decor & DIY Paint in the color Chamoise. When dry, I used Distress Ink in Vintage Photo over the top to give it a vintage look. I painted the box, spindle, and wood knobs using Tattered Angels Chalkboard Paint in the color Ruby Slippers.  Once dry, add vintage photo distress ink over the top. Optional: Add paper to the box and spindle for a unique look.

Step 4

Step 5- Start to dress your form with paper. For the skirt, I trimmed the paper to work with the plates on the American Vintage Paper. Cut enough strips to go all the way around the form so that no paper mache is showing. Adhere the paper strips with Crafters Pick Ultimate Glue.  Only adhere the tops of the strips down.

Step 6- Cut out some of the plates from the American Vintage paper, and punch a small hole on each side. Using Distress Ink, ink the edges of the pieces you have cut out of the paper.  Then, using a small brad add the pieces to the skirt as shown in the picture.

Step 6

Step 7- Each top is a different size, as the paper mache forms are never the same. Using printer paper, draw out some tops and cut out until you get it to fit all the way around. Add lace around bust line.

step 5 - american vintage paper

Step 8- The belt is made of 5 pieces. Again, make your pattern on plain paper until you have it fitted to the dress form. The front piece should be larger, and the rest are about half the size. Cut two of each and stitch them together. Punch holes and add eyelets as shown in picture. Lace them together with ribbon. Cut strips of grunge paper and ink  them with Distress Ink in Vintage Photo.  Add buckles and then stitch together.

Step 8

Step 9- Glam up your dress form by adding different metal embellishments, chains, charms,or anything else you think would help make some finishing touches to your dress form.

Dress form 7gypsies Step 10- For the last step, add metal pulleys to the bottom of box.

Box for dress form decorated


So the next time you see a spring or a washer on the ground or at a sale for a nickel, pick it up and start your own stash. You will see how fast it grows. You will find a place for it on one of your one of a kind altered projects!

If you ever have a question and would like some help or suggestions I am more than happy to answer them, just email me at Now go find your treasures!




Canvas Corp Brands is the home of Tattered Angels, 7Gypsies and Canvas Corp (Canvas Home Basics). We are a manufacturer of surfaces, paint and vintage reproductions coming to you from Springdale, Arkansas.

'Decorate Your Own Dress Forms' have 6 comments

  1. June 21, 2016 @ 6:27 pm Midge

    These are absolutely fabulous! I just LOVE Donna and her work!


  2. June 22, 2016 @ 9:07 am Barb Housner

    what a fun project and makes me want to play with one


  3. June 23, 2016 @ 1:29 am Jean Bullock

    Awesome, awesome, awesome and uber cool! You are so creative and artistic!


  4. June 27, 2016 @ 1:15 pm Sue Bowen

    Fabulous work and out of my league .Enjoyed looking at what you have done


    • June 27, 2016 @ 1:22 pm ccbrands

      Sue this project is not so hard, start with a small dress form and give it a try!!!!!!


  5. June 10, 2017 @ 9:01 am Creative Ideas for old or damaged mannequins you are going to love

    […] Donna also loves to make over dress forms – check out these great designs. […]


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This blog is a compilation of inspiration from the Canvas Corp Brands family including Canvas Corp, Tattered Angels and 7Gypsies.