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Making your own dress form

GoneGoaty | Posted in Fitting on

Has anyone made their own dress form using the paper tape method mentioned in Threads? I have looked at the method online and it says it’s good to do this in the kithcen or bathroom so you can have access to water for wetting a sponge. However, the method described does not mention when you actually use the sponge or what you should be wetting. Anyone know how to do this? I need a dress form for myself but want it to be cheap as I am losing weight and will need to redo (hoepfully) as I get smaller. I want to do both torso and pants forms. Would love to hear any tips or advice! Thanks!


  1. mimi | | #1

    If I remember from the article, you are wetting down the gummed edge of the paper to that it glies itself to the previous layer of paper.

    A word of caution if you are doing this yourself:  the paper will rip as you move to wind it around your torso.  Do the project with a buddy and use Duct Tape instead!


    1. GoneGoaty | | #2

      Thanks Mimi. I was just telling my husband that he is going to get drafted into this project. I thought from the article taht the paper tape was actually stiffer once it was completed. I don't mind either one, just want it to hold its shape is all. I am still thinking of purchasing the Uniquely You dress form but thought I might try my hand at making one first since it's so inexpensive. Have you made one for yourself and do you like it? Thanks.

      1. Brine | | #9

        I did the paper tape dress form with the help of some friends and offer the following suggestions: use a hair dryer to speed the drying time and have bandage scissors to cut the form off your body. My form looks disgustingly like my shape, but if I were to do it again I would want to have the wrapping extended further over the top of my shoulders. One thing which we forgot to do was to mark a horizontal balance line on the form, which is a really important omission if you want to mount your dressform on a stand.

        1. GoneGoaty | | #10

          Ah..thanks for mentioning the lines. I was not really thinking that was much of a big deal, but now I see they have more impotance than just for fitting guides. Maybe I better download the pdf from leanna's website. Thanks again!

  2. rosegard | | #3

    There was also a great article in Sew News on making your own dress form.  In this article, they used duct tape.  I believe that the article appeared within the last 6 months.  It looks very involved, but worth the effort.

    Good Luck


  3. janlorraine | | #4

    I made a paper tape dress form a few years ago with my daughter's help. The paper tape has glue on one side; this is what needs to be wet. I found it was faster to give each piece a quick dip in a basin of water rather than swiping them with a sponge. This is messy work that will go much faster for you if you pre-cut your tape. Make sure to cut some of them into thinner strips for better shaping around your bust. I should warn you that this is a rather uncomfortable process for the person being taped. You will be unable to move your upper body and I found the wet tape took a very long time to dry. I actually lost patience with the process and demanded to be cut out before my tape was completely dry. I got back into the form the next day and had myself wrapped again in cellophane packing tape. This has held together rather well. I use push pins when I am fitting on it. This is a very inexpensive way to get a dress form and well worth the trouble. The end result will be a little bigger than you are because it is impossible to hold completely still in the process. I have found myself wondering if wearing constricting undergarments might help go some way toward preventing this. jl

    1. GoneGoaty | | #5

      Thanks everyone! I think I am actually going to go for the duct tape method. I have been reading more and I think it will be a bit easier. I plan to cover "her" in stretch knit so I will have something to pin to and to protect delicate fabrics. I have not sewn much for myself since I got married as my mom and sister live out of state now and I don't have a good "pinner" to help fit things. I hope this allows me to do some nice things for myself as I am rather tired of the cookie-cutter goods that the department stores carry. I want that reaction I used to get..."Oh, where did you get that?".."You mean you made that? Really?". Will have to post some pics when I finally get some things finished.

      Crossing my fingers that the DTD goes well...

  4. user-51823 | | #6

    ditto- if using paper tape, i'd run it through a bowl of water rather than using a spnge, but you do have to wait for it to dry. a fan and/or hairdryer would help, but i also agree that duct tape is faster. i think it was an old threads where i first heard about that. obviously you wrap yourself in plastic wrap first.
    possibly the duct tape form is harder to work with afterwards because of the slickness of the surface.

    1. honeybear | | #7

      I read this discussion & want to try it out myself.  Can you please advise where I can read this article to make a dress form?  I have some idea from the conversations but would like very much to view the procedure.  Thank you!

      1. GoneGoaty | | #8

        Honeybear, if you will search the Threads site with "sewing assistant" or "dress form" you should find their article. Also, checkout the site leanna.com and she will send you a pdf file with color photos and specific how-to's. She also has a freebie instruction sheet with minimal instructions and a supply list. I think I can try it without the pdf download. She has lots of photos and advice posts from others. I found this site to be very helpful. Good luck!

        1. honeybear | | #11

          Thank you for the info, GoneGoaty!  Will try the Threads site.   

    2. Gloriasews | | #13

      I took a class in the paper-tape dress form a few years ago.  We used a drycleaner's plastic bag (with neck & armholes slashed) on which to place the tape - it was long to fit the hips.  We made our forms to crotch-length.  As others have told you, they can be dried with a hair dryer, but should sit for a day or so until completely dry, then retaped to close the back up & reinforce any thin spots.  We made stands out of old IV stands, Christmas tree stands, old floor lamps, whatever, even 2X4s with a plastic pipe & t-bracing at the shoulders & hips to hold it steady.  Then we sprayed the inside with foam insulation/caulking & let that dry - it was solid!  The old Threads articles also advised how to make arm forms to attach, which are helpful; these are made with cloth & stuffed with batting.  The duct tape method is easier, faster, & less messy, but a softer form is made than with the paper tape, but, with the foam stabilizer inside, will be just as firm when it's finished.  Yes, you definitely need another person to tape you!  Years ago, I had a My Double adjustable wire mesh form, but it stiffened with age & became unadjustable.  Making your own is definitely a better copy of your body &, like another person said, is disgustingly like your own!  We laughed at class when all our forms were on the table (before the stands were made at home) - all us older, heavier women's forms looked alike - saggy breasts, protruding tummies & all!  But they work well.  Good luck!

  5. crazydog | | #12

    I made one years ago and may now be inspired to do another as I am larger now. We used an old turtleneck, snug fitting, hip length with long sleeves to wear underneath. That garment becomes part of the finished product.  I have written directions if anyone wants me to fax it to them as it has diagrams as well.  Just email me as I am still not used to these forums.  address is [email protected]. It is a legal size sheet.  I guess it predates use of a word processor.    

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