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My PU foam legform.
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How I made my legform aka Holly the Halfling

It is almost impossible to fit trousers to yourself. Without a sewing friend that knows about fitting it is pretty much trial and error. I am determined to learn how to make perfect trousers for myself so I needed a proper legform. Of course, just buying one (even if I could find one in Finland) wouldn’t really work since I have my unique curves, lumps and bumps and don’t resemble the slender legforms available. So, I decided that it was time to make one.

The materials for a DIY legform

Here is a short list of everything I used:

  • an old pair of tights
  • PU foam (+ cleaner spray)
  • cling film
  • duct tape
  • Old plastic coat hangers
  • aluminum rods
  • scrap fabric
  • wadding
  • linen fabric
  • thread

Materials for a legform aren’t hard to get. My nearest supermarket sells duct tape, cling film and PU-foam that is used in construction as an insulator and sealant (don’t cite me for that, I’m not a construction engineer!). It also helps to get protective gloves, respirators and PU-foam cleaner spray. I also used a pair of coat hangers and some spare aluminum rods to add a bit strength and to make it possible to hang the finished legform from the hook.

At the later stage you will also need wadding and some linen.

The tools I used were:

  • scissors
  • snap-off knife (a cheap one)
  • something to protect the floor like paper or plastic
  • pins
  • hand-sewing kit
  • something to hang the legform while you are filling it (a pull-up bar is perfect!)
  • iron
  • spray can

Making a legform takes a few days and lots of patience but it is worth it!

Making the mould for the legform

I managed to get my husband to help me to make the mould. Otherwise it would have become quite hard at some point! I pulled an an old worn out pair of tights (so sorry about the hole!) and then wrapped my legs and hips with cling film. Then , together with my husband, we taped my lower body in duck tape.

Wrapping the cling film.

It is important to criss-cross the tape and put some rings of tape around the legs so that the mould stays in shape during the filling. When I was covered all the way up to my waist we cut the mould open from the both sides so that I could step out. Then I taped the mould closed.

The finished mould.

Filling the mould with PU foam

It would have been a good idea to spray the mould with water before filling as I learned later that water helps the PU foam to harden. It is useful to make some holes to the side seams so that it is easier to get the foam all the way to the ankles. Spray a little bit, let it harden and then add some more. Otherwise you are left with huge cavities filling with gas and/or unhardened goo. I learned this in a hard way! If you are planning to do this, do it in a well ventilated area and use a respirator. Also, wear gloves. The PU foam is almost impossible to get off your skin or nails and it can lead to allergic reactions.

Adding the PU foam to the legform mould.

At first the legform stayed standing in place but after a while it started collapsing and I had co come up a good way to keep it upright. Finally I took a long rod from an old coat hanger and stuck it through the sides of the mould. This gave me two handles at the sides of the mould that I could use to hang the mould to a pull-up bar at our craft room doorway. I also stuck in two aluminum rods to strengthen the legs and added a child size coat hanger with a hook for hanging the finished form.

Below I have already removing the duct tape and the cling film but you can see the hanging method that I devised:

Hanging the legform to dry and removing the mould.

Then it was time to fix all the cavities and to get rid of all the goo that hadn’t hardened. The darker colour was a good sign of some unhardened goo. I went through the form and made holes to drain the goo out. I also neatened the top that had overfilled. However, I saved all the pieces that I took out and used them to fill the cavities.

Draining the goo.

I amputated the feet that hadn’t hardened at all and that I realised would have just been in my way, anyway.

Adjusting the size

Sculpting the legform to the right size.

Then it was time to do some sculpting. First I removed all the extra lumps due to filling. Then I compared my measurements to the legform and shaved out quite a bit. As I had been too impatient in filling my legform I had had quite a lot of gas trapped in the stomach of the leg form that had lead to some serious bloating! Luckily the foam was very easy to sculpt.

I was sculpting, refilling and draining the goo at the same time. At some point I learned about the hardening properties of water and sprayed the whole form with it. I also sprayed any cavities that needed filling and finally I had a legform that was fully hardened and my size:

The finished PU legform.

Covering the legform

The PU foam is not very hard-wearing material, so I needed to cover it. First I tried just pulling a pair of thick tights on it but those didn’t really work. The form looked shabby and the foam was showing through the stitches. Finally I decided that my legform deserved a proper professional treatment.

Adding the wadding.

I bought some thin and lightweight wadding and covered the legform with it. I stitched the seams loosely by hand to keep the wadding in place.

My professional dress forms all have a linen cover. I thought it might prove to be difficult to cover the leg form with non-stretchy linen but finally I decided to go for it anyway.

Pinning on the linen fabric cover.

I thought it easiest to tackle the problematic, curvy areas separately. First I pinned something like a big pair of granny panties to cover the crotch and the hips. Then I added these U-shaped pieces that I wrapped around the upper thighs.

The hand-sewn legform cover detail.
The legform cover from the back.

The rest of the legs were easy. I made separate front and back pieces. The back of the knee needed a little tuck to help the fabric lay smooth.

I stitched all the seams by hand. A long needle helped a lot. The trickiest bit was the crotch as my hand had trouble fitting in with the needle. Luckily I was able to work through the both sides.

I finished by sewing the ankles shut and by adding an elliptical piece to neaten the top. I steamed the linen with my iron and sprayed with warm water to shrink the linen a bit. That removed some of the remaining wrinkles. I sawed away the handles at the hips. However, I left the holes if I ever wanted to add removable handles.

The finished legform

Here are the pictures from the finished leg form. The front:

The finished legform from the front.

The side:

The finished legform from the side.

And the back:

The finished legform from the back.

But does it work? I thought that the best way to test it was to pull on a tight pair of jeans that fit me well. And. They. Fit! I had to pull a bit to get the button closed but my legform obviously can’t pull it’s stomach in like I do when buttoning my jeans. Here is the legform with the jeans:

The dressed-up legform.

And another pic from the side back.

The jeans from the back.

This will be very useful since I can use the existing pairs to mark a good waistline position that I have noticed to be very important so that the trousers stay put.

I decided to name this legform Paula Puolikas which means something like “Holly the Halfling”. I think that is a fitting name!

After I was already finishing this legform I though of checking the Youtube for any tutorials. For anyone inspired to make something like this, I can recommend this tutorial I found. I used pretty similar techniques although there are definite differences, too. So, you can pick and choose a method that suits you!

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this post useful! Do subscribe if you want to follow me on my sewing adventures! Happy sewing!

Katja

I am a mother of two. I sew, knit and create and blog about it.

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