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Tips & Techniques > Making a Duct Tape Dummy Dress Form

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Posted by: SandraB
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Member since: 11/20/03
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Posted on: 4/1/04 11:26 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 5 people   Very Helpful by 16 people   
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Recently I have been contemplating buying a commercial dress form to help me with fitting my garments. However I find the high cost of these dress forms quite prohibitive.

I remembered reading a few online articles on making a Duct Tape Dummy at home. So I did a google search and found a few useful links with instructions on how to make a dress form using duct tape.

My DH spent about an hour wrapping me in 2 layers of of heavy duty duct tape. He unraveled the tape and I cut. Word of warning - take care of all bathroom issues before cocooning yourself in duct tape! When he finished wrapping me, he cut off the dress form by very carefully cutting it open going up the back. I closed it back up by lacing it shut using crochet thread and a heavy duty curved needle. I closed off the neck opening by sewing a piece of fabric over it.
click here

I then stuffed it with sponge bits (usually used to stuff pillows and toys) and some fibrefil. I put a couple of 3/4 inch dowel sticks horizontally across the shoulder area, and vertically inside the dress form to give it some strength, sort of like a skeleton.

Instead of mounting the form as the online instructions suggest, I closed up the bottom by sewing a fabric covered piece of cardboard to the bottom. click here The form sits on a stool.

This is a really easy project and quite cheap compared to the cost of a commercial dress form. After I finished my work of art, I became painfully aware that I really need to cut back on the cookies and ice cream. This duct tape dummy really captures every lump and bump that you have. This should be a very useful tool when it comes to fitting. click here

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Babs said... (6/9/04 6:55 PM) Reply
I too didn't like the idea of "hanging" the finished dress form. What a great idea to close the bottom and put it on a stool. That makes it easier to move out of the way when not in use.
jen_e said... (5/21/04 11:26 AM) Reply
I made a duct tape dummy about a year ago. I love it and use it all the time. I thought it was easy to make, but I had a lot of help from my husband. We got all the supplies from Home Depot. I used white duct tape and painted the stand white, with some handpainted details on the base. I mounted the dummy by first duct taping a wooden coat/suit hanger to the pvc pipe. The pipe slips in the base (husband made this part). Then after taking the duct tape form off my body, I "hung" it on the hanger, stuffed it and taped it up the back. I measured to be sure the dummy had my proportions while stuffing it. I was really suprised at how easy this was and how great it turned out. I can't say enough about how helpful it has been for me when making clothes to fit me perfectly. Oh, and I attached a little pin cushion at the top which I found helpful.
SandraB said... (4/13/04 8:57 AM) Reply
June, you can try You can also do a google search for Duct Tape Dummy and several links will pop up. Hope this helps.
JuneB said... (4/11/04 4:25 PM) Reply
Cool...would love to know where you found the "how to" for this. It is an excellent idea and yours looks terrific!
SandraB said... (4/7/04 9:43 AM) Reply
Victoria, there is a way to do pants. You just have to wrap your legs with the duct tape in the same way as your torso. Mounting it would be a challenge though. I think you would have to have it hanging, rather than have it on a stand.
victoriaj said... (4/6/04 3:25 PM) Reply
I also made a duct tape dummy - I used a video I found online somewhere. My husband built a stand for it and I stuffed it. I actually covered mine with a flesh-colored lycra by just makin a T-shirt and closing up the ends at the neck and arms. I love the dummy. It's so helpful for hemming skirts because I have it at the right length off the floor. And of course it's invaluable in fitting and stying. If only there was a way to do pants!
Jean Haas said... (4/5/04 8:12 AM) Reply
Sandra, Yes, your best bet is to cover it immediately to preserve it. It will keep it lasting for a long time. The Damp Rid comes in small buckets or trays. You can see it at I place a couple within a few feet away from my form. One more tip---duct tape is very pinneable and easier to pin into if you have a cover over it. Hope this helps! Jean
SandraB said... (4/3/04 9:02 PM) Reply
Thank you all for the comments and suggestions. Annette, you can pin right into the duct tape, and the cost of making this dress form was just the cost of 2 rolls of 60 yd duct tape and the cost of the stuffing. I have thought of covering it with fabric, but I don't really know how to do this. Jean, do you mean that I should place the damprid in the same room as the dress form?
kathi s said... (4/3/04 9:25 AM) Reply
re the insulation foam: I think that using the "low expansion" type used around vinyl window frames (which can warp out of shape) might be the type to try. Also, you can leave "escape" holes - the neck, arms, bottom- open so that the foam can expand out without putting too much pressure on the form. Then when the foam is set, just use a bread knife to cut the excess off. I am adapting these "thoughts (I haven't tried it) from what I learned on our own building project and "This Old House" lol.
Annette H said... (4/3/04 6:23 AM) Reply
Sandra, congratulations! A great way to get a dress form. I have been thinking of doing the same, but - how do you pin draped material to it? Will you be covering it with some kind of fabric? ( I have also been warned that when I make a dress form, I will have a diferent attitude to my own shape ... oh well, I guess I'd get used to it). I wonder how much it cost to make?
LSBCATS3 said... (4/3/04 5:01 AM) Reply
Jean, how do you use the DampRid?
LSBCATS3 said... (4/3/04 4:57 AM) Reply
Very good description and photos. I just may try this--surely is a cheaper alternative than buying a dress form, which I was considering since they are on sale now. Thanks!
Jean Haas said... (4/2/04 9:33 PM) Reply
Sandra, Your dress form looks great! I've discovered that if you want to keep the duct tape in good shape (pardon the pun), go out and get a product named DampRid. It will wick the moisture away from your form and allow it to last for many years. Moisture is the culprit that makes the adhesive come apart.
SandraB said... (4/2/04 1:45 PM) Reply
Dragonlady, I read where someone tried to use the foam to fill the duct tape dress form, but the dress form couldn't withstand the pressure, and the seams began to open up. If you do decide to do this, please let us know how it turns out.
ConnieBJ said... (4/2/04 1:04 PM) Reply
You know - if I read comments before I added my own, I would not look so stupid! Patty- I had not heard of anyone adding foam insulation before but I always thought it would be a good idea. It is not so toxic- we use it all the time on our farm- even our house is insulated with it. I bet my husband would not be adverse to some bondage this weekend!
ConnieBJ said... (4/2/04 1:01 PM) Reply
I have been putting off doing this for about 2 years now! I may just bite the bullet(not the cookies!) I was wondering if any one has thought of spraying foam insulation inside the form - it would make it more durable.
PattyU said... (4/2/04 6:43 AM) Reply
Thanks. I'm glad your pleased with your dress form. This is a timely tip for me. I want to make a dress form, but I can't decide which version. The duct tape version sounds like a good option. "Threads" from March 1998 has an article on different types of dress forms one can make. I am considering either making a duct tape version because it looks easiest and least expensive or the molded paper mache form. The paper mache looks like it gives better (prettier and more exact) results but more difficult; also probably more expensive. You need to make a sugigal plaster cast to make a mold. You then make a dress form out of paper pulp and wallpaper paste in the mold, which had ben cut inhalf. Drying time sounds lengthy. You then need to join both paper mache halves, glue and hold together with cord and shims. Needs to dry again. Then you stuff it and mount it. I wonder if its worth it. I've also heard of a similar version that you make by filling the mold with insulation foam. That sounds more exoensive and perhaps toxic? I'm hoping that members who have tried various ways could leave advice. Maybe I'll try the message boards.
sewmuchmorefun said... (4/2/04 6:25 AM) Reply
Great review. I tried a duct tape double about 2 years ago, but didn't stuff it and use dowels. When I get ready to do another, I will use your helpful hints. Thanks for the review.
Barbara J said... (4/2/04 1:21 AM) Reply
What I great idea, I hope one day soon I can get DH to stand still long enough to wrap me, I think it would be so useful for fitting clothes, horrific to look at in my case.
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