Part 1 Duct Tape Dress Form Saga

Today we made a duct tape sewing dressform and it came out pretty good. Three rolls of 60 foot duct tape, a cheap t-shirt and a little time got it done. I initially heard about this from a group of SCA friends and was intrigued. I certainly would love to have a dress form of my wife that emulates her unique shape. That and that it costs a lot less than a generic fall apart model cinched the idea. A little research on the web showed that it not an unknown concept and so after some reading and planning, off we went.

It took two hours. I started from the bottom and worked my way up twice.


Being in a rush to see what it looks like I went ahead and stuffed the form, cut a quick base out of doubled cardboard and checked it out. It still needed some work so I unstuffed it. Good grief what an explosion of batting and rags. It is pretty amazing the volume of batting that it takes to fill that. We had bought two 32 oz. bags for 10 bucks at Joanne’s and that only went up to the waist. Cost being a factor, I started scouring up old used up blankets and raided all the material out of a burlap bag that I had been saving as an archery stop. With all that material, I got pretty much up to the neckline. Not surprising, some more changes were in order.

Item 1. When stuffing the dummy try to maintain the body shape of the person you are emulating. The waist basically being spherical in transection can be stuffed badly resulting in not enough distance side to side or front to back. The volume will remain the same but using the dummy for measuring and such might make a difference. If you stuff without concern you may well find yourself with a dummy that looks 9 months pregnant, as I did.

Item 2. Apparently, my re-connecting of the back seam where I had cut was not too swift. The waist had grown 3.5 inches, the hips 4 inches from the original model. Inspection showed an ever widening gap from the mid-back to the bottom.

Note 3 The cardboard will need to be cut to a better fitting shape.

So, I removed the connecting tape on the back and the seam split open! I was immediately overwhelmed by the batting. Man that stuff can really just keep compressing into a space.

I had some difficulty try to connect the seam by simply pushing the edges together for when you get to the curves, pushing together does not work. The solution is to pinch the two edges together a couple of inches high and the simply lay a strip of tape over and rub down both sides smoothly. Once you have connected the back be sure and check inside the dress form in the area of the small of the back. It may likely need a bit more attention. I pulled the neck kerchief piece off and then reinforced the neck, bottom hem and the arm holes making for a stronger edging and a more finished look. I re-cut the cardboard to a better shape to fit the base.

My simple solution to the stand is an old rotating stool base. This one is just slightly wider at the seat than the base of the dress form but that is fine as everything I am planning on creating are generally loose fitting items. I suspect a bar stool would work admirably and those things can be gotten cheaply if not for zip anywhere. People are always chucking them away. This stool, which I had salvaged from the bin, was my drawing table seat for about 15 years till the seat disassembled beyond repair. So at this point, I need to scavenge some plywood and build a base for the dress form and another wood base to stool seat and connect the two.

When we were done, we went to exercise the ghost dog in the stool picture and saw these turkeys meandering through the yard searching for grub. Strange to see such big birds casually strolling about. Later!