How to Make a Duct (duck) Tape Dress Form: Helpful Hints and Tutorial Links

Although my Etsy shop, Sarah Kate Creations, is full of paper and bead crafts, I also have a new found passion for textile arts. I am a crafty girl with a unique style and decided about a year ago that I should be making my own clothes for a truly unique wardrobe. I have since learned that this is easier said then done as I have started down the long journey of becoming my own seamstress. Nicole Vasbinder of Stitch Craft in Petaluma has helped me tremendously on this journey with her laid back classes and you-can-do-it attitude, perfect for a slightly scared beginning sewer. I started with her Crash Course Sewing class and have since taken several garment construction classes.

Yesterday I spent the day at Stitch Craft making my own duct tape dress form in an intimate class of three people. This was a wonderful experience with lots of help and a completed, economical, dress form to take home when class was over. Creating a dress form was much more physically demanding than I had thought it would be, but well worth the time and energy. It is a task for two people and it took our class about four and a half hours to complete all three (one for each student).

The process involves, plastic wrap, duct tape, poly-fil and an old t-shirt. You wear the shirt, lengthening it to about mid-thigh using the plastic wrap, this is so that the dress form will include your bum. Then you are wrapped in duct tape first loosely and then a second layer more tightly. This process can take up to an hour. Once you are completely covered in duct tape, including your neck (which is loosely wrapped in plastic wrap), you can be cut out of the dress form, this includes cutting through the shirt. When you are cut out and have had a moment to breath you can tape the dress form back together and begin stuffing it, taking extra care at the arm holes, neck, breasts, and anywhere else that might stick out. Let the dress form sit over night so that the poly form has time to expand and readjust it in the morning. Voila, you now have a completed duct tape dress form!

Helpful Hints:

Move as little as possible during the taping. Don’t look down!

Use Ace Brand duct tape.

Mark your center, side, and princess seams for a finished look.

Put the cardboard from the center of the duct tape roll into the neck for support and definition.

Don’t over stuff! Poly-fil expands.

Spend extra time marking the bust, you can use a piece of duct tape split into quarters to mark the under side of your bust along the wire in your bra. Also radiate the duct tape out from the apex of the bust. This adds definition.

Have duct tape strips ready to go by tearing a bunch of pieces and having them hang off a table for easy use.

You don’t need to cut duct tape and gunk up your scissors, it tears easily.

Put the first layer of duct tape on horizontally and the second layer on vertically to strengthen the dress form.

Do the body and bust separately.

If you can pinch the duct tape with out pinching the person it is not tight enough.

I highly recommend taking Nicole’s “Duct Tape Dress Forms” class at Stitch Craft in Petaluma or Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley, but if you’d rather try at home I’d recommend checking out these tutorials:

Etsy Labs Archive Dress Form Tutorial – I like how this tutorial reinforces the arms and neck with cardboard, but don’t be afraid to extend the neck higher! Just use vertical strips of duct tape and gently line the neck with plastic wrap of fabric.

Mary Jane’s Farm Duct Tape Dress Form  – I like the way the bust is done in this tutorial.

WikiHow How To Make A Duct Tape Dress Form – Basic, simple, clear, instuctions.

Duct (Duck) Tape DRESS FORM (mannequin) Tutorial – A nice YouTube video with great duct tape positioning. A cheap thrift store dress is used instead of a t-shirt and plastic wrap. I think you may get a better fit if you use the t-shirt rather than the dress.

Also check out Sarah Kate Creations where I have added new custom color single cards and hand strung beaded necklaces!


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