Monday, December 17, 2012

DIY Duct Tape Dress Form - Part 1

 I've been wanting to make a dress form since my sewing friend, Crystal, showed me hers.  I chose to make a duct tape mannequin because 1- I don't have an extra $250 lying around to spend on one of these:


2- Even if I did buy a dress form, I am fairly certain I could not get it to match my measurements, exactly (thanks to my pear-shapness, small bust and narrow shoulders).  
3- The duct tape look is SO in right now.  
And finally, 4- Who doesn't like to be confined in duct tape for 90 minutes?

To make a dress form, this is what you'll need:
a good pair of scissors
2+ rolls of duct tape, 45 yds each
2 large trash bags
some smaller trash bags
A trusted friend or spouse 

Begin by cutting strips of duct tape in all different lengths, from 8" to 24". Trust me, do this in advance.  You're not going to want to stand there in duct tape while your friend/spouse delicately cuts more strips of tape.  Here's what my apartment looked like with 2 rolls of tape all hung up:

 ....And that's probably only half of what I cut.

If your scissors get sticky *correction* when your scissors get sticky, wipe them with a rag and some Goo-Gone.  Seriously, this stuff is awesome!

Before you are ready to get taped up, visit the restroom and get your hair up out of the way.  I put on a tank top and some swim bottoms.  I know some people who wear a bra for this but I didn't, because I belong to Las Hermanas Flanas Club.  I like the versatility of adding a padded bra to the mannequin, when needed, or going without when I'm constructing swimwear.

Cut a hole for your head in the bottom of the trash bag, and slits for the arms.  Start taping around the torso.  Make an X across your bust to separate the girls.  Diagonal pieces are also great for thighs and hips.  Carefully tape the rest of the bust.  I found it helpful to tape at different angles using smaller pieces of tape.

Yeah, looking good!  Tape under and over the arms.  I feel like a Spartan warrior.  Mr. A. used extra pieces of trash bags to go between my under arms and the tape.  He missed some spots = a free pit waxing! was not pleasant.

He added a second trash bag below the waist and cut between my legs to form the lower half of the dress form. 

It was so hard to not feel attractive at this moment.

Mr. A stuffed more plastic around my neck and taped that up.  At this point I have been all duct taped up for over an hour and a half.  I was begging him to finish quickly while simultaneously being as wiggly as a 5 year old at recess and dancing to every song on TV.  

The form needs enough layers that it will hold its shape when you remove it.  I was covered in at least 2 layers.  I should have done more, but I couldn't stay still any longer.

Before you remove the form, have your helper draw a line with a Sharpie down center back and center front, bust and waist lines.  Use the center back line as a cutting guide.

This is the beginning of freedom!  He was really good not to cut my clothes.

Cut to the middle of the butt or until you can free yourself.

Mr. A did such a good job of taping my hips that my thighs wouldn't come free while I was standing.  He said that if the muscles were relaxed (not supporting the body) he could free me.  He had me lay on the couch while he pulled the rest of it off.

And here is my completed body double!  I still have some reinforcing to do on the curved parts and I am going to fill the entire form with insulation foam next week.  I don't like looking at it - ew.  She needs a bra and is that a Five Guys food baby?  I don't think the tape around the belly was tight enough, but a girl in duct tape has to be able to breathe.  The self consciousness doesn't end.

I padded a hanger with some fabric and hung her up in our bedroom.  The butt has become more squished over the last day or so.  I'll run to the store tomorrow and get some foam so we can preserve the shape.  This is, perhaps, the weirdest thing I have ever done in the name of a good-fitting garment.  And I cannot believe I am posting all of these pictures.  I hope I have provided you with a good tutorial.

For more helpful info. on making dress forms, visit these blogs:

I'll be posting about the filling process later in the week.


  1. Your comments crack me up! I loved the comment about it being hard not to feel attractive :) We would all feel the same way in your position - thanks for posting! This is such a great idea and you make it seem doable!

  2. Entertaining post :) I hope it works out for you!

  3. Your dress form is beautiful! You did a great job. I've seen the instructions posted before on other sites but it's good to see it done step by step. Thanks for sharing. deanie dot dreams at gmail dot com


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