Dress Form in the Making

Dress Form Cutting and Removing
Dress Form Cutting and Removing
To create a dress form with my measurements my daughter artfully wrapped me in yards and yards of silver sticky duct tape. This was the moment my husband liberated me from the cocoon. But first thing’s first.

When I told my 8-year old daughter she could wrap mom in duct tape she was thrilled. There are many sites with instructions on how to make a dress form your size. I even found one from 1938, which uses tissue paper and duct tape, so the idea has been around for while (http://blog.modernmechanix.com/) Here’s a contemporary, and possibly more useful one: (http://www.threadsmagazine.com).

The supplies are quite simple:
- a fitted long t-shirt
- rolls of duct tape
- scissors
- helpers
- patience (and possibly a margarita if you’re trying this on a summer day when it’s hot)

Here’s what I’ve learned:
Even though the tutorials are quite simple and easy to follow, when I was wrapped by my cheering child, it was hard to tell how tight the whole thing had to be. Breathing should be easy, because otherwise the final dress from will be too tight and so will your the garments. And don’t we all have one or two of those in our wardrobe. (“Oh, I’ll lose 3 pounds and it’ll fit beautifully”). Applies to shoes as well. I have some pairs which “almost” fit perfectly. Almost. So I really wanted this to work.

Dress Form in the Making
Make sure, you have a helper who is rested and NOT hungry. Invite some friends and make a party of it. Making a dress form feels like spending an hour or two in a neon lit dressing room in a mediocre chain store trying on bikinis in the middle of winter. I strongly recommend creating an atmosphere….you don’t need bright light to wrap someone in duct tape.

Dress Form Ready to be Cut

The worst moment is when you’re fully wrapped, sweating, uncomfortable and the “wrapper” says : “One more minute, I’m almost done…” about 500 times.

But the moment of freedom makes it all worth while. The form in the picture below is a deflated version of myself. I’ll stuff it tomorrow with some paper and think of a better surface, because the shiny tin man thing is not lending itself to sensual draping, in my opinion. I’m not sure yet how to stick pins into it (or for that matter get them out). But I’ll finish it first.

Dress Form Delflated

Do I have any good tips? Yes, here’s one: I would definitely wear a more fitted t-shirt and take more time. The shirt I used, was a bit bulky under the tape. Number 2: Look at the weather forecast. If it’s in the 90’s go swimming instead.

Other than that, you definitely need some food, laughter, patience and humor……just the things that make practically any situation work.

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8 Responses to “Dress Form in the Making”

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  1. Mohnrot says:

    Hello Annekata,

    I did the same kind of form some weeks ago (or better: I told my husband to wrap me in duct tape), and I have a very important tip for you (and all others who will do the same):
    Please close the form with horizontal rounds around the whole form! I did not, I just closed it with many horizontal stripes of about 15 or 20 cm (6 or 7 inches) and some long vertical stripes and then filled it – this lasted for two or three days and then the form "exploded".
    I don't know if I will succeed in reparing it. Such a little mistake – a real disaster!
    So I cannot tell anything about the usage of the form yet.

  2. annekata says:

    Thanks so much Mohnrot! I just started to close it up and will definitely go all around the form with the tape! Very helpful comment!

  3. Sharon says:

    Hello Annekata,
    I came across this tutorial a while ago and it gives some ideas about filling and mounting the form.
    I'm still planning to make one… So I can't yet give personal advice.
    Best Wishes

  4. ItMakesYouSmile says:


    I loved your photos of being "taped"!!

    I have done this with many friends – I for them and they for me. Here are a few of the things we've discovered along the way:

    - Use a large men's shirt and take in the seams along the side and under the sleeves. Also, add either fabric at the neck, in the manner of a turtle neck, or wrap your neck area with tissue.

    - Put your hair up and wear a wide headband or wrap to keep stray hairs away from your neck. They love to get caught in the tape when it's near your neck – OUCH!

    - I like to get the tape as tight as is comfortable. You can always add wearing ease to your garment later – HOWEVER, be sure to monitor carefully so that the tape does not get progressively tighter so that you can't breath comfortably and have to be "cut out" before the taping is completed.

    - More layers and directions of tape is generally better. Some areas of the body require lots of short pieces, at least initially, and some can be longer. Don't try to get too long, or you will find the tape bunching around curves.

    - The further down around your bottom you can tape the more useful your final form will be.

    - It's best to stuff your form right away when you cut it off. It will very quickly shrivel (as you saw) and become harder to stuff into the original shape. When stuffing, insert a strong clothes hanger into the shoulder area with the hook protruding. This will allow you to hang your form from a hook. You can also make a "T" out of PVC tubing to create a stand to stand your form up on the floor.

    - Cover your finished form with a tight layer of jersey fabric. This will make it much easier to work with when draping garments, and you can pin into it (not sticking straight in, obviously, but across). You could also use a layer of fleece for more "pin-ability", but remember that the more layers you add to the surface, the less accuratly the shape will reflect your own.

    - This activity makes a great gal's party!

  5. lorenabr says:

    It's a great idea:)

  6. britni @ Antika Moda says:

    Hi, I just saw your tutorial on etsy on how to make sandals, I'm SO doing this!!! Very creative, I'm definately a new follower here on your blog:) I can't wait to see what creative ideas you come up with next!!! ♥♥

  7. Shorty says:

    What a wonderful idea! I would love to own a dress form, however I'm a hard to fit munchin kind of size. This would be perfect for me… thanks so much for the tips!

  8. annekata says:

    Thanks so much everybody for your great comments.

    @ItMakesYouSmile: Wish I'd read your comment before starting your comment, so my 'unstuffed' form is shriveling as I'm writing this. Next one will be part of a girl's party event! Thanks so much for all your tips.

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