Quick and Easy Duct-Tape Dress Form
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by David Coffin
Joyce Perhac, a teacher and sewing-show organizer from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, has perfected a quick method of form making that uses ordinary duct tape as both the body-casting material and the final form. She’s written a booklet describing the entire process (“Make Your Own Body Form,” available for $10 from her at www.sewingevents.com), but we’ll cover the highlights here. (Pure Whimsy no longer carries the booklet.) Get more dress form ideas like this one by ordering a subscription of Threads magazine. Print subscriptions come with FREE access to our tablet editions.
Start with your “victim” wearing well-fitted undergarments of her usual type under a long T-shirt, which needn’t be too tight. Begin by wrapping the tape horizontally at the bottom, mid-thigh, ideally with a tape-cutting helper (use old scissors, as the tape gets gummy; a size-10 figure requires 1 to 1-1/2 60-yd. rolls of tape). Wrap snugly, but not so tight as to rearrange or compress the body. At the waist, wrap a little more loosely on the first layer, allowing folds to form as you follow the contour, if necessary.
Three layers of duct tape make the form. Wrapping horizontally, start at the thighs and work up.
Wrap snugly around the thighs and hips, a little looser at the waist.
At the bust and underarm, cut the T-shirt sleeves if needed to allow the tape to follow the figure, and use shorter pieces arranged radially over the bust. Protect the neck area with plastic wrap, then wrap to form edges at the neckline and armholes similar to those you’d want on a fitted bodice.
In the bust area, use shorter tape and change direction. Short pieces of tape capture the contours of the bust better. Arrange them so they radiate out from the center of the bust area.
Protect the neck area with plastic wrap; wrap to form edges at the neckline and armholes similar to those you’d want on a fitted bodice.
When the first layer is complete, wrap twice more, first vertically, then again horizontally, further compressing the waistline to fit each layer more closely, and smoothing over wrinkles this causes with more tape.
When finished, have the “wrappee” bend slightly to reveal her waistline, and mark it (and any other points you want identified) with marker or later with colored tape.
Mark the waist. Bending slightly will reveal your wrappee’s natural waist. Mark all around with a permanent marker.
Cut carefully up the back. Keep your hand between the tee shirt and the wrappee’s body to avoid cutting undergarments or flesh.
Cut off the form and T-shirt layer at center back with your other hand between scissors and body to avoid cutting undergarments (or the wrappee!). Then close the form with additional tape, stuff it with poly batting, and place it on a stand (read on for stand ideas). Joyce’s finished form has a polished look, similar to an industrial dress form.
from Threads #75, p. 38
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