Tuesday, April 5, 2016

My Secret Weapon for Upcycling - Dress Forms


I'm Michelle Paganini, owner of Paganoonoo, an upcycle fashion designer and patternmaker for Paganoonoo.

This is the story of how dress forms became my secret weapon for upcycling. It is a long post but stick with me, it comes full circle!

When I took Draping at Canada College in 2012 my projects were not impressive.  My Mother was ill and died that semester, and I wanted to be at school because I found it comforting to be there.

My draping instructor, Judy Jackson (of Craftsy Fame), had been my instructor in previous classes, she knew I was a hard working and dedicated student, and went out of her way to be accommodating given the circumstance.

My final project seemed so simple compared to my fellow students that I was almost embarrassed.  Fast forward, seemingly unrelated, during a later semester, Ronda Chaney, the head of the Canada Collage Fashion Department (Redwood City, California) encouraged all of us to apply for scholarships as she does every year.  This time I did apply and was granted a scholarship by the SouthVally Quilt Association (Thank you!!!)

I purchased a dress form. I'd had a cheaper version years ago, the type you crank open to change sizes, couldn't pin into, in other words... mostly useless. 

The form I purchased is a PGM pro, similar to the top-of-the-line Wolf dress forms, and completely pinnable.  It has changed my life.  BEST SEWING TOOL INVESTMENT EVER!!! And I have a lot of sewing tools.  A year later I won a second scholarship from SVQA and bought a second dress form in a different size.

How have dress forms changed your life Michelle?  I started upcycling on my forms.  Working with 3D garments is challenging, and trying to design with the garments laid flat seems nearly impossible to me.  All of my upcycled designs are draped to begin with, then I go on to writing the pattern instructions.

An example of one of my designs translated into a pattern

I've called Judy Jackson up to let her know how draping plays a huge part in my business and to thank her for teaching me so much. P.S. She is teaching again next semester.

With a dress form I can see what is happening with the design/garment from all sides and angles. I can audition color choices, color blocking, design elements, fit, the drape, manipulate pleating, everything!  This perspective is invaluable and why you want a pinnable dress form.

You saw my dress forms if you stopped by in Puyallup at the Sewing Expo. Speaking of the Expo, many women mentioned they wished they had know about Paganoonoo instructions before they gave away their Husband/Father/Grandfather's garments so they could have made garment for themselves/children/grandchildren from their loved ones clothing. I became curious about using a loved ones clothing as a keepsakes. I ran across a blog post by Judi, owner on Mannequin Madness, https://www.mannequinmadness.com/blogs/mannequin/creative-things-to-do-with-to-the-clothing-of-your-deceased-loved-one

Hang in, we are coming around full circle...
It turns out that Judi rents and sells recycled mannequins and she sells PGM and Roxy sewing dress forms!!!!!
In 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency gave Mannequin Madness a special achievement award for recycling over 100,000 pounds of mannequins in just ONE year.
                    This is my kind of woman!!!    

Judi's Personal Mission

Provide customers with the widest variety
of mannequin options on the internet

Recycle mannequins for retail chains so
unwanted mannequins don't end up in landfill

Inspire people's imagination with
creative ways of using mannequins.

(see examples on her Pinterest board)

I highly recommend purchasing a pinnable dress form and Judi's business is exactly the kind of green-centered business I believe strongly in supporting. Mannequin Madness in Oakland California. 

Check out Judi's blog post:   How to Select a Professional Sewing Dress Form for your Needs and Budget
P.S. One of Judi's 10 ideas for loved one's clothing is to rent a mannequin for a funeral to display the loved one's military uniform or other special clothing.  Brilliant!
Happy Upcycling!  Michelle

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Start UPCYCLE SEWING today with Paganoonoo instructions, sold on Etsy!

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  1. Can't wait to "get going"!! Just an FYI, I was a grief counselor for years and after my husband's death, one of the things I was able to do for my daughter's graduation from law school was make her a purse from her dad's shirts and jeans... it was healing for BOTH of us... it was the beginning of a program I initiated at the last hospice I worked for...we called it the RememBEAR program... we purchased bears and made very personalized clothing for the bear from the loved one's clothing... long story... I would be glad to share a photo of the purse I did for my daughter!