Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Duct Tape Dress Form

These are the quick & dirty instructions for making your own dress form. If you sew, if you just want to play with duct tape & try making clothing, if you just feel like it, its simple!


Long tshirt, past your hips if possible (you're going to cut it, don't plan to keep it)

6 rolls duct tape (you probably won't use them all, but better prepared than not)

spare material to protect your neck/throat area (duct tape on skin is NOT pleasant)

Cotton batting, aka quilters stuffing - lots & lots & lots (to stuff it when complete *IF DESIRED, not necessary*)

Sharpie markers (I'd suggest 2 or 3 colors)

A SHARP, STRONG pair of scissors

A willing accomplice/helper

Helpful Hints

You're going to want a fan, the ac or a cool day. Duct tape does NOT breathe, you're going to sweat.

Make sure you're wearing a GOOD supportive bra (if you're female - or if not & that's your thing {I don't need or want to know}). A push up one is great, you're going to need the boobage!

This can take a couple hours to do so be prepared to stand there & be bored for a bit.

Step 1:
Put on your tshirt. You also want to take this time to wrap your spare fabric, or extra tshirt, or other means of protecting your neck. Duct tape in your hair is cringe inducing to both you & the person(s) helping you.

Step 2:
Starting with small strips of duct tape, 3-6 inches long, begin wrapping your body. I start by going horizontal on the 1st layer, then vertical on the 2nd and back to horizontal on the 3rd. You need SHORT strips of tape because you want to make sure it holds well & is strong. I'd suggest starting at the shoulders with longer pieces, then down the length of your backbone, then work on the abs, or the hips & slowly work your way up.

Make sure your strips are SNUG, but not too tight that you can't breathe. It may sound silly but its easy to not get it tight enough, or get it too tight. You want it somewhere in the middle & this is a learning experience so make sure you have good communication with your helper(s).

When you get to your bosom, you want to use 2-3 inch strips, curving them slowly to fit the shape you have. Some will go side-to-side, some will go up & down, some will go in curves above & below your bust. This will be the slowest, most tedious part.

As you can see from the photos, I was NOT wearing a good supporting bra that pushed up & out. I will teach you how to fix this, but its better to just learn from my mistake the 1st time around.

You may do arms if your shirt has long enough sleeves or you have extra material to put between you & the duct tape. I've seen some with only 1 arm down to the wrist for long sleeve products, I've seen them with only a couple strips past the shoulder. Do what you think you'll need & use it for.

Remember that is is not a PERFECT dummy. Your body is NOT perfectly symmetrical, nor will your dummy be. Also understand that there are limitations to duct tape.

Step 3:
Go back over your dummy with a 2nd layer of tape. If you went horizontal on the 1st, go vertical on this one (minus the boobs, follow the same rules as before).

Step 4:
Make a 3rd layer, again alternating directions. It actually serves to make a stronger, stiffer form that can stand up to being hung on a hanger, placed on a stand & stuck with pins if you'll be sewing with it.

Feel free to bulk up an area if you think it needs more tape. The shoulders & the bust are usually where you'll want that reinforcement, but if you feel as though you need it elsewhere do it. Better to use more tape than not enough, I say!



Step 5:
Have your helper mark the middle of your back with a sharpie. You can use what ever color you'd like, I go for black for base measurements like that. Now its time to begin cutting you out of the form. You'll know you're ready when you look & feel like you're wearing a 40lb piece of duct tape armor. Feel free to ham for the cameras, might as well enjoy this goofiness while it lasts!

Your helper wants to cut that sharpie line down the middle of your back. Do it slowly & as straight as possible. Chances are they're going to have to take breaks, cutting that much duct tape isn't easy on the scissors or the hands that wield them. GO SLOWLY so as not to cut your undergarments or your skin! That's about as unpleasant as ripping hair out with a strip of duct tape.

Once its cut through, slowly slide out of the form. Your help will have to hold up the form & it will be heavy! You'll want to tape that cut edge on both sides with several vertical strips of tape (inside & out, fold them over, however you want it).

If you're leaving it open to put on a hanger, you're done!

Step 5B: OPTIONAL!!!

If you're going to stuff it, now is the time to tape it closed! Tape the edges together. Reinforce it with several more strips of horizontal tape. Double the amount of tape on the inside. If you don't, it will pop the seam when you try to stuff it.

If you're stuffing it you want to tape in the neck hole. You'll probably need an extra piece of material. Run a basting stitch, draw it closed, then sew together. Repeat for the arm holes. If you've got enough material at the bottom of your tshirt, use it to close in the bottom edge. If not, get a new piece of scrap & run the basting stitch then sew closed.

Step 6:
Using different colored Sharpies mark out your lines. Your bust line, the natural waist, your hips at high & low positions. Add in dart lines if you think you'll use them (even if you don't think you'll use them, the may be useful at a later date).

Tada! You've got a duct tape sewing dummy! You've got a PERSONAL duct tape sewing dummy! Sized just for you! Never knew duct tape could help you sew, did you?

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