Lula and Collette.

Last week I mentioned the dress form that I saw at Acme Junk Co with a price tag of $475.

It was very cool, but you know me, I’d never spend $475 on something like that.

So I thought this might be a fun time to re-visit the stories behind my ‘dress forms’.  One that I made myself out of a Styrofoam mannequin torso, a lamp table base and a door knob, and one that I purchased at a garage sale.

I shared the story of my first ‘dress form’ once before here on the blog, back in 2013.  Yowza, have I really been blogging that long?!

You’ve maybe seen it being used to stage a piece of furniture here and there over the years.

  But lots of you probably don’t know the story behind Lula.

I named her after one of my favorite great aunts.  She was my grandmother’s sister and she and her husband lived on a farm in South Dakota.  As children, my brother, sister and I would stay with them for a week or two in the summer.

That’s a photo of Lula and her first husband, whom I never met.  He passed away and she then married my Uncle Homer.

The mannequin torso that I used to create Lula was rescued from the old Oakdale Mall (for any of you locals who may remember it) by one of the city’s public works superintendents.  The mall was being torn down and the property cleared for new development (it’s now a HyVee grocery store).  He brought it over to City Hall and asked if I wanted it (this, of course, was back when I worked there).

To be honest, I wasn’t quite so sure about a yellow Styrofoam torso, but I took it.

I knew I needed to come up with some sort of a base for it, so when I came across one of those mid-century lamp tables in the free pile at a garage sale I grabbed it.

You remember those lamp tables that were popular in the 50’s and 60’s right?

Mine didn’t look quite like that, and of course it was in pretty rough shape.  But you get the idea.  The base ended up being perfect for my mannequin.

Naturally, I asked for my handyman Ken’s help in attaching the mannequin to the table base.  To this day I’m still not sure exactly how he did it, but they are firmly attached.

It was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure I painted the table base in black latex paint.  I was totally unfamiliar with chalk paint back then.  However, I painted the Styrofoam torso in Rust-Oleum black chalkboard paint.

I knew I needed to do something to cap off the neck of my mannequin, so I ended up deciding to use an old black enamel door knob.

It’s just pinned to the Styrofoam, but it mostly stays in place.  Same for the metal no. 1 plate.

All of the photos so far in this post are showing Lula decorated with a white chalk pen, but a few years ago I gave the torso a fresh coat of black chalk paint, and then added some gold with prima transfers to her instead.

The crown and the swag on her chest are from their Gilded Home & Nature set, and the wording at the base is from their Somewhere in France set.

My second dress form, Collette, start out life looking like this …

It was covered in an ugly grey jersey knit fabric that had definitely seen better days.

I purchased it at a garage sale, and unfortunately I don’t remember exactly how much I paid, but I know it was less than $100.

It was fairly simple to rip all of that fabric off to reveal the cardboard form underneath.

The metal collar at the neck was still just a bit too new and shiny looking for my taste, so after first painting it with a coat of Dixie Belle’s Caviar, I gave it a coat of Prima Marketing’s Metallique wax in Bronze Age.

Then I changed out the original finial for this painted one …

For the final pièce de résistance, I added bits and pieces from the Prima Marketing Catalogue transfer to it.

By the way, in case any of you are wondering, I did not top coat the transfers on either one of these dress forms and they are still holding up perfectly.  Of course, they are indoors and not handled frequently so that may be a factor.

I totally love how this one turned out.

So much so that I still have it.  In fact, both of these dress forms are in the corner in our bedroom.

I haul them out for the occasional photo shoot, but otherwise they just hang out there holding all of my vintage necklaces.

So let’s see, Lula was mostly free.  The torso was free, the table lamp base was free, the door knob came out of my stash, so that just leaves paint and transfers.  And actually, I was a content creator for with prima at the time, so the transfers were free too.

I don’t remember precisely what I paid for Collette, but I know it was less than $100.  Probably significantly less.  The finial I added was in my stash, and again, the transfer was a freebie at the time.

So, for significantly less than $475 each, I have two pretty cool dress forms.  It just goes to show what you can come up with if you use a little imagination!

23 thoughts on “Lula and Collette.

  1. Love both of these girls. Your eye for design is really something and I’m not sure many people would have seen the possibilities! What I love is that both are still looking good a few years later. Vintage never goes out!


  2. I have wanted these babes from the first time you shared them. You have created the most interesting spaces in your home with unexpected and unique decor. I love them both.


    1. If you ever get tired of either of these, just remember I don’t have one….but I have a sewing room that would make a nice home for either of them. 😊


    2. Thanks Victoria! I do love to use unique items for my decor. No more ‘Home Interiors’ for me (remember them? I’ll admit, I did attend a few parties and made the expected purchases).


  3. Love both of your dress forms! I have a foam one (probably not very old) that I plan to paint. I’m on the lookout for a base! Thanks for your explanation of your rehabs – you inspire me to work on mine!


    1. That’s my goal, to inspire others, so thank you for letting me know that I’m succeeding 🙂 I’m sure you’ll find a fun base for your foam form soon!


  4. I love your ladies…you have great vision in repurposing pieces and parts and the creativity to make ordinary things lovely.


  5. Lovely to meet Lula and Collette! I am so inspired by your creative enhancement of these ladies. I have a gal named Sophia (dress form) purchased from FBMP for $40. She occupies a corner of our bedroom too. Sophia is a little jiggly but stable enough, though her fabric covering is quite worn and discoloured. I think it’s time for a makeover! Thanks for sharing your lovelies.


    1. Well, I have to say that Collette is a little jiggly as well. I’m not sure she would function well as an actual dress form, but she looks good just standing there 😉


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