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Duct Tape Dress Form

marthaq | Posted in General Discussion on

Has anyone made one?
I began one last weekend, and things went well with the actual taping. We taped from the neck to widest part of my hips, including about 5 or so inches of my upper arms. It looked pretty good although spooky laying on the floor; headless, armless and legless. There is also a shock of self recognition involved here that is not thrilling, but what the heck!
I had an old lamp stand that I put it on, with a shaped wooden hanger through the shoulders and began stuffing it with polyfill stuffing. I paid careful attention to stuffing above and around the hanger so the weight won’t pull and distort the shoulders. Now “I” look bloated, boobs nearly gone, stomach out. I wonder if I just overstuffed, or if there is any advice out there on how to achieve a more lifelike look. Maybe I didn’t use enough tape? We used 2-1/2 rolls total. Do I need a firmer structure tapewise, to hold the shape more strongly?
Have you had any luck?


  1. cafms | | #1

    Check the archives for "Saran Wrap" and "Custom duct tape dress form" 5050.1  This is the number but I don't know if it will come up as a link to the discussion.  Anyway, there are a lot of ideas and links in these two topics.  I have helped do one a long time ago but not done one for me.  We used at least three layers of tape.  The first layer going horizontally around the body, the next vertical, and then horizontal again.  If you use different colors of tape it is easier to see the places that are weak or not covered in each layer. 

  2. jatman | | #2

    Hi Marthaq,

    I helped a friend make one several months ago and she had to wait a few days before hanging and stuffing it.  Waiting gave the tape some time to harden into her shape. 


  3. soannit | | #3

    Glad to know that someone else has had exactly the same problems with the duct tape form.  I ,too, wondered if I had overstuffed 'me' due to years of stuffing toys)  I also suffered the shock/horror syndrome after seeing the finished product.  I used the base of an old oscillating fan and a broom handle for a stand.   In desperation over the flat chest which I definitely don't have (unfortunately, I think sometimes) I fitted an old bra on 'me' and stuffed it with polyester.  The body is a constant source of amusement to visitors and embarrassment to me, but is still quite useful after decades of always fitting 'live'.   Love to hear of any more precise methods of duplicating oneself as even on e bay the prices of dressforms seem to be astronomical.



    1. Elizard | | #4

      Paper tape dress form? http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00002_p5.asp
      (look through the other links at the bottom of the page)

    2. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #6

      In our house my dress form is lovingly refered to as Me2. She is never left nude as she is covered in a pinnable knit tube covered by a t-shirt nightie to keep the dust off. My girls dress her up sometimes as a joke on me. She isn't perfect, but neither am I :)

      1. soannit | | #10

        The nighty sounds like a good idea.  I will try that and also suggestions about making a packing tape form if I can get someone to do it for me without laughing themselves silly. 

        This forum is great!  Everyone is so nice and so helpful. 

  4. jodee | | #5

    My daughters and I made dress forms several years ago.  The best two were made from reinforced paper packing tape.  They have held their shapes for several years.  The third one was of duct tape, and it suffered the same problem of distortion when stuffing.  I recall that I had to special order the packing tape from my local office supply shop.  I am in a rural area, so am not sure what the big box stores may carry.  I covered mine with knit tubing yardage--not quite so scary looking as the naked version!

  5. Gloriasews | | #7

    Go to the archives in the left-hand column of these threads - you will find lots of entries about various home-made dress forms.  I, like the other poster, made a paper tape one years ago & it's still firm (firmer than I am!).  Of course, I had to add foam under the T-shirt I covered it with to try to copy my now body, as I have nobody to tape me into a new form.  I did the form at a class years ago.  It was surprising how many of our bodies looked alike when the forms were finished (tummies, sagging boobs, big bums, etc.).  It was quite funny.  We decided we were not so different from each other, after all.  When I recently moved, the movers all laughed at my dress form (unfortunately, I'd forgotten to cover it with a garbage bag), so there it was for the whole world to see :(.   At least, the T-shirt was still on it, so all modesty wasn't lost! 

    You'll find in the archives that some who made the duct tape forms had problems with their forms later if they lived in a hot, humid location, so do check out the archives.  Good luck with your own form!


    1. marthaq | | #8

      Thank you all for your help.
      I ended up removing some of the stuffing, closing up the neck and bottom with heavy cardboard cut to shape, and taping the armholes shut. It should work pretty well, though it sticks out front to back more than I do (I am more wide than deep). The cardboard bottom helps stabilize that a bit. My husband finds it creepy, as he will start talking to "me" then realize it's just the other me (and for once being silent!)
      As I examine the set of "my" shoulders, back and waist, I realize I am nowhere near "normal" so fitting will be so much faster.
      I'm excited to SEW!

      1. Gloriasews | | #11

        I laughed about your hubby talking to your dress form & you being quiet for once :).  Could you not change the shape of the cardboard at the bottom of your form to spread it sideways to mimic your shape more, seeing as the form is a bit flexible?  Good luck with your sewing buddy.


        1. marthaq | | #12

          That's exactly what I did and it seemed to help. I also go squish her from time to time to flatten the belly and spread the old hips. At least the circumference is OK for dresses, skirts and tops. I won't be fitting pants on this....Thank goodness I have a pants pattern that works for me that I've made over 10 times!

          1. Gloriasews | | #13

            You're right about using it for dresses, tops & skirts.  The measurements will be the same, but the proportions may be a bit off, especially if the dresses & tops are very fitted.  If you keep squishing, you should be OK, though, with only minor tweaks.

            You're so lucky to have a good pants pattern that works.  When I finish unpacking, I'm going to try the one that was in Threads a couple of months ago for perfect pants & see how it goes (the one where you measure every part of your lower body, draw the lines, make curves, & make your own pattern).  One poster awhile back said it worked perfectly for her, so here's hoping.


  6. threegals | | #9

    go to Sewnews.com - they have really good directions, including a stand, it's a pain in the butt but works.

  7. maptat | | #14

    I found very good instructions for making a packing tape dressform at a site called instructables.com     The instructions were based on the original Threads article published a while back, and include photos of the author's efforts.

    I made a dress form using the packing tape and, with 3 layers of tape, it is quite stiff.  I have not mounted it yet, but intend to use my old, commercially made dressform as the base.

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