Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Body Double - Duct Tape Dressform

Recently, I was inspired to try making a duct tape dress form "loosely" following instructions found here:

So, less than $15 later, I have a new custom dressform with adjustable height! To find out more about how I did it, read on below.

covered front

covered back

When I say "loosely" followed the instruction, I mean that I did a LOT of substitution. But, I am pretty happy with the results. If I gave it another go, I know it would be even better.

duct tape dress form

  • I started with the old t-shirt and added a pair of shorts to make it a bit longer. They suggest that you use cling wrap on exposed parts, but I didn't have any. But, I recommend using it to get a longer arm and lower hips.

  • Most of my investment went into the duct tape. I used TEN rolls of the cheap stuff at $1 a pop that barely covered me in two layers! I don't suggest scrimping on the tape.

  • I used a heavy duty coat hanger that I already had to support the shoulders and an adjustable shower rod for the pole, which is great. I taped the hanger to the pole with more duct tape. I can readjust the height of my dress form to hem dresses/skirts allowing for wearing heels or no heels. It also turns really easy. Leaving the hanger hook on will allow me to remove the base, shorten the pole and hang it out of sight in the closet. Marking the pole with permanent marker, tape or a scratch will help in resetting the height correctly.

  • I stuffed my form with plastic grocery bags. We always have a ton of these around. I try to find uses for them, but never seem to keep up with them. I never remember to bring my own bags shopping with me. And, the cashier never seems to listen when I tell them the bag can hold more. :) Anyway, I managed to use up every bag in the house for this project! But, I did stuff it pretty tight.

  • As recommended, I put a piece of cardboard in the bottom after stuffing and taped it on with more duct tape. It needs to have a hole cut in the center for the pole and be fairly the shape/size of your hips. I really believe this was the most difficult part of the project. :) For accuracy, the pole needs to be aligned through the form to mirror your posture when you stand.

  • The base is a plastic Christmas tree stand that I bought at a thrift store for $1. I could have purchased a metal one, but we agreed that the plastic one looked better. I may spray it silver in the future. I was concerned it would be top heavy when finished, but the plastic bags didn't add much weight. So, with much relief, it stands pretty sturdy.

  • I covered the finished form in tan polar fleece for taking photos. Which reminds me that I discovered pinning into the duct tape is NOT a good idea. The pins get all gummy. It works better to just pin into the fleece layer.
After all is finished, I would definitely recommend this project to those who like to sew or just make costumes in general. Its very useful, inexpensive to make and doesn't take a great deal of time to complete. I'm sure I will need to make a new one in a couple years, but I can pretty much reuse most of it, except for the duct tape.

Thanks for takin' a peek at my blog. In the near future I should hopefully be posting many new projects made using my new assistant.


Creepy_Creations said...

That turned out really cool!


Merripan said...

Thinking I may do this for myself, as I'm larger than "normal"... Though, I'm thinking I may use the duct-tape form portion as a pattern for some heavy canvas, and sew everything up, then stuff it... No more sticky pins into duct-tape, that way. :-)

mieljolie said...

Hello, Merripan. Hope you try it. It's a pretty quick painless project. Using the duct tape as a pattern is an interesting idea. I'm not sure how intensive that would end up. The tape will sculpt to you shape and not be flat. But, it's worth a try.

Thanks for posting,


Nia said...

Hey, I just wanted to say that I love this idea and you are awesome for sharing your experience with everyone. How did you cover it with the tan fleece? did you sew it use pray adhesive,or...?
By the way your costume was phenominal excellent work ! Keep it up sweety you are doing a fantastic job.
Much Love

mieljolie said...

Hi Nia. I probably made the polar fleece cover the hard way. I measured the dressform with a tape measure at 1" intervals, divided the numbers in half, and drew that on to the front/back panels of polar fleece. You could try just pinning the fleece to the form inside out and marking the shape.

After sewing up the seams, I stretched it over the form. If I had it to do over, I'd velcro or add a zipper to a seam to make it easier to remove and replace.

Good luck with making your own,


Hullabuoy said...

Nice job-excellent item to have around for anyone that sews.I have been wanting to do this for a while-some day!

mieljolie said...

Hi, Cathi! Definitely make one of these if you sew clothes. Or, if you're just curious what you look like 3-dimensionally. ;) I use mine mostly to plan costumes and take pics. I can put everything on it and walk around to see what it looks like all angles. But, it's great for sewing, too.


Hullabuoy said...

I go through my sewing jags and this would be so handy since I am long waisted and always have to alter patterns!Plus I like to reinvent men's shirts-add tabs to cinch the waist etc.Have to put it on my short list which is getting longer all the time!