Pinching Pennies

Dress forms are really expensive! I’ve been wanting to get one for a while, mostly to hold an unfinished apron or model my latest skirt creation for easy pinning. I also wanted to use it for any art shows or photo shoots. When I priced dress forms, I nearly fell of my chair. I really didn’t need it fancy, adjustable or even that accurate. I wanted something that was rustic, country and (honestly) cheap. I did some research and found two different websites that had ideas for a chicken wire dress form: Junk Chic Cottage and Sassy Trash. I decided I could make my own form with the trashy treasures I have around here on the homestead.

Treasure Hunting

 First made a list of the things I would need:

Chicken wire: about 4 feet X 4 feet



Hand drill

Wire cutters

Gloves (I wish I would have worn gloves. Ouch!)

I started looking in the barn. This broom I had saved from the burn pile. The handle would make a good sturdy stand.

Another rescue from the burn pile was this base from a broken desk chair. It just happened to fit the pole perfectly! A lamp stand would also make a nice base for this project, especially an antique one. Maybe next time

Of course I have plenty of chicken wire. This little bit at the end was just enough for my project. Thanks, Chickies!

Making the form

The process for making this dress form went so fast! In fact, it went so quickly I forgot to take pictures as I went along. So I used a second piece of scrap wire to make a mini-form so I could show you how I did it.

For the mini-form I used about 2′ X 2′, so it’s half the size. First form the wire into a cylinder. This will probably happen naturally because of the way wire is usually stored. Turn the wire to the back where it connects. Loop the cut ends around each other to secure it. This is where I wished I would have worn gloves!

Now comes the sculpting part. Chicken wire is very pliable and easy to form. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with grabbing and pinching the wire to shape it. Mistakes are easy to undo and I found the final look of the wire very forgiving.

Turn your form so the seam is in the back. Using your fingers, pinch the top center of the wire, pulling down to make a V for the chest.

Grab and gather the wire along the neck top to shape the neckline. You should see shoulders forming along the top. Placing your hands on each “shoulder”, join the back and front together, pinching the seams.

Step back and estimate where you think the waist line should be. Cup your hands on the “waist” and gently press in to mark the place. Go along the edge of the waistline, pinching the wire together to make a nice hourglass shape. Make adjustments to the chest and shoulders, shaping and molding as you go along. Stand back often and look at it from a distance to check your proportions. Adjust as necessary.

For the skirt, turn you form on its side. Bend any sharp edges over and gather the edge of the skirt to make a nice “hem”.

To add more dimension and character to your form, grab and gather the wire up and down the skirt, standing back often to check your progress. As I said before, be aggressive and don’t be afraid to crinkle up the wire. It makes it look more folky and handmade.

The mini-form turned out very cute as well. It will be wonderful for jewelry or other hanging treasures.

Final Touches

Add your wooden hanger to the form for support. I drilled a hole in the top of the broom handle and was able to push the bottom end of the hook of the hanger into the wood. Depending on what kind of hanger you use, you may need to find a more creative way to attach your hanger to the stand. You can do it!

A burlap bow and black ribbon add the final touch.

The dress form looks very snappy with an aprom made from a vintage dish towel.

This wire form will not only be helpful in your studio but also add character and charm to your decor!


Do you have any questions or comments? I’d love to hear them. Please respond below.

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean


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