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Archive for March 16th, 2009

A Leg Mannequin from Scratch

Monday, March 16th, 2009

This legwarmer-fanatic/designer came up with a dilemma. I know that if there is a sample in a shop from my patterns, the patterns sell better. Customers can just tell what the design might look like in “real life.” This is good for me *and* for the shop.

3legs33.jpgI am excited about my “Road-Tested Legwarmers” pattern. But how the heck could I display a legwarmer well? It is a floppy tube without a leg inside. Hmmm…

I am a fan of the soft, cut-able dense foam called “Foamies.” I learned about this material when I worked at JoAnn Fabrics.

There is a thinner version, about 1/8″ which is used a little like construction paper but more strong and durable. That type is used for kids’ crafts which are essentially throw-away projects, and I don’t like plastic as a throw-away.

However, they offer a 1/4″ product in white, black and red. This is my favorite product for structural assistance legmannequin33.jpg(particularly for the bottom of a knit/felted purse). It stands up to abuse.

I have learned that if I trace around my hand on one of these, I can cut it out with scissors and put a wristwarmer on it. My wristwarmers are a tube with a vertical thumb-slit, and they need to help for a customer understand how they look/are worn.

The Foamies are about a dollar and a half for a “sheet” about the size of a piece of paper. This is within my budget for display items, and I use it all the time. I also use it for afterthought-heel socks (which look strange until you put them on).

So I figured maybe I could make something out of foamies for a legwarmer. Except they just are not rigid enough for something that big.

I schemed and came up with the idea of a “sandwich” with two foamies on the outside, and wood of some sort inside. When I got to JoAnn the most affordable thin wood was a package of colored “popsicle sticks” so I got those.

legdummy25.jpg

At home I put a sheet of newspaper on the floor and distorted myself (this was amusing) to trace around my leg for a pattern. I took a little artistic license on curves here and there and cut out that pattern.

I taped three Foamies together in a way that covered the leg pattern, then cut out the foamies with the paper as my guide. I repeated that one more time.

Next was the sandwich. You can see the progress in the above photo. I taped the wood sticks (with excellent packing tape) to one side, then I put them together and taped them together with black duct tape. The first photo was taken with the duct tape showing, and the legwarmer pulled on top.

The last step was to dress the leg. If we had been in an edgy large-city neighborhood, I could have left the black duct tape. It looked a bit unfinished for medium-sized, Midwestern Lansing.

I got a pair of black tights and dressed the leg, then tucked in the excess fabric on the back of the top. One handknit sock (made of Nashua Snowbird, a lovely Aran-weight alpaca/wool blend) and one handknit legwarmer (Noro Kureyon), and she was ready to step out as a display!

The leg is lightweight. We were able to clip it to a metal wire display shelf, with one large metal binder clip. It’s very stable. Score!

Thanks to Melinda who works at Rae’s Yarn Boutique, for helping me put this baby together and for taking the photo of me wearing some prototype legwarmers and holding the leg.