Instructables
Picture of Packing Tape Dressform
Make a custom dressform, display mannequin, body double, cast, or a big pinata with some help and a little paper gum tape. You could also use this technique to make paper casts of other body parts, objects, or people!

I got the basic directions and idea from here: http://www.taunton.com/threads/pages/t00002.asp
But since they didn't really go into that much detail, I've made an Instructable (my first! yippee!) since I was originally looking for one here anyway.

Making the dress form is pretty easy, and only took us about 2 hours to complete.
 
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Step 1: What you need

You will need:

- a roll of kraft paper gum tape (its the kind with dry glue on one side)
I got mine relatively cheaply at Staples. To make my form (I am a size 4), we used less than half the roll, if you are larger, you will need a bit more tape.

If you can't find the paper tape, I think you can also use duct tape, but you will need a few rolls to make the layers stiffer since it is flexible. The beauty of using the paper tape is that it shapes itself after drying like instant paper mache strips. And later on you can put pins through it without lots of sticky residue getting on your sewing pins.

- scissors (make sure they can cut through fabric)

- a rag or sponge to wet the tape, maybe a bowl to hold a little water (or just do it by the sink, and keep the rag damp)

- an old turtleneck or fitted t-shirt that you are willing to sacrifice to this project
The shirt should be as close fitting as possible and not too thick or textured. Crew neck or turtleneck are ideal, and the length should not be too short. If you don't have a turtleneck or longer shirt, don't fret, it is easy to extend the length of the form to cover your hips and neck.

- hairdryer

- marker

- someone to help you

Optional:

- a hanger (to make a hanging dressform)

- old pillow or polyfil to stuff it when finished, or a bag of packing peanuts, packing foam or a few cans of spray foam (if you want to stuff/coat the inside for reinforcement- not necessary since it holds itself in shape but maybe it keeps the thing more durable)

- old lamp base, tripod or music stand (to make a standing dressform)
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spunk made it!2 months ago

I made one ;) And I love it! It's so useful for alterations and construction.

I stuffed mine with rumpled newspapers and added a broomstick as a stand. I used this instructable (http://www.instructables.com/id/HomeMade-Modern-DIY-5-Bucket-Stool/) as a guidance for the construction of the concrete base I added.

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Well played! That is a great solution with the tape. Hadn't thought of using that for that purpose but it makes great sense. I saw a post too about taking just a sliver out of the back to account for the extra space you gain which is also clever. The finishing off with the foam is also a nice touch because then you could in theory use some pinning or tacks with out really destroying the shape over time.
firefly682 years ago
stijky, thanks so much! I thought I'd seen all the variations on this, but yours, with this kind of tape, seems like it will be easiest for my very reluctant BF to deal with. :-) I also love that you can put pins in it.
stennett5 years ago
I made one for my wife's lower torso (to make pants) using the black Gorilla tape as it's thicker and stiffer. The form still wasn't as stiff as we liked. Nor was it shaped or sized right...it was a bit big due to the thickness of the tape. To fix both these problems I filled it with the self-expanding foam you can get at the hardware store and then I removed the duct tape "mold". The duct tape came off perfect due to the tissue paper we had wrapped around her before we laid down the duct tape. I then stuck a broom handle into it and mounted it to the ceiling. We then put two pairs of thick tights on it and voila!...a pant form that we didn't have to spend $300 for. Probably around $40. If anyone wants pictures I can post them.
Stennett, I would love to see photos. I need a pants form as well as a dress form.
aneley stennett3 years ago
I want to make my dress form like this as well... I want a very exact replica :) But I want to try using masking tape (since I have it already) and I hope this tape will come off just as easy :) And if you still have photos please post :)
akyramoto2 years ago
Just did this today, took a little under 2hrs, turned out awesome!!
paleotool2 years ago
Great Instructable! Well thought out and good photos too. I think we'll have to make one.
nagutron6 years ago
Nice Instructable! The photos are really clear. From your finished photo, it looks like the dress form is just a bit wider than you are. I wonder if it would make sense to take the thickness of the shell into account by cutting a narrow strip out of the back before you re-seal the form. About three times the thickness of the form (1/2"-1"?) should do it.
stijky (author)  nagutron6 years ago
That is a really good idea. Like I said, its important that the shirt underneath is also as thin as possible and smooth. Also, If I did this again, I would remove the collar and bottom hem from the shirt before taping because they did create lumps (not sure if you can see that in the photo). One could probably also cut the form down the sides instead of the back center, shave 1/2" from each cut then reseal the two halves that way.
Myself stijky6 years ago
Or you could use this form as a negative mold, because the inside is where it's most accurate, and cast a positive shape inside it. Wrapping the victim in plastic wrap, then applying the tape over that, would leave a smoother layer inside that the fill material might release easily from. For fill material, I'm picturing a concretion using expanding foam insulation as binder and packing peanuts as aggregate to contribute bulk. Maybe entire plastic bottles or something could be used up the middle to fill the central volumes. Cardboard tube from the center of a carpet roll, perhaps? (It's approximately neck-sized and would make a nifty core!) That's obviously the subject of a separate instructable, but it would be hilarious to use a single mold to make a bunch of clones. :) Leave one in your cubicle at work and see how long it takes anyone to notice...
kenbob Myself2 years ago
I like the idea of using the form as a mold - and my daughter wants a dress form,,,, may have to try this
Mine was larger than me, too. I made one out of duct tape last year and it turned out quite bloated. I think I might try the packing tape, though. Duct tape just wasn't stiff enough! I also used a very thin shirt, and it didn't hold up that well. Any pressure and the form crumpled. :P
mamayama2 years ago
***IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP!***
Before you wrap the torso, it's very important to TAKE A DEEP BREATH and hold it...or instruct the person you're wrapping to do so. Otherwise, it's easy to over-compress the lungs...and next thing you know, your dress form model's lips are turning blue. Happened to us; had to tilt her onto the bed quickly so she could re-oxygenate (next option, of course, was cutting the unfinished mold from her and starting again--but, once horizontal, she recovered quickly).

Great Instructable, thanks!
dreamydeary3 years ago
Another idea for the stand: an IV pole like this one. Sturdy, roll-able, and adjustable.
Ronyon3 years ago
Has anyone tried simply reversing the first layers of tape, so that the sticky side is faced out ward? As an electrician, I have learned to make a"head" for pulling wire through pipe, using a reversed layer of duct tape as the first layer.We also put a thin wire under the first layer, allowing us to "unzip" the entire "head", by pulling up on the end of the thin wire, which then cuts through the layers of tape like they were nothing.
wonderbyrd3 years ago
I just did this. I would recommend *not* using the Staples brand of packing tape. The adhesive was not strong. Spend the extra $4 on the brand name tape.
Also, I used a mound of plastic grocery bags to stuff mine. Worked well!

Thanks for posting this 'ible, it was very helpful!
jlock1264 years ago
I'm going to make this dress form this week. I'm so excited. Thanks for the great instructable.
stijky (author) 4 years ago
 Hey this exact method was in LIFE magazine on Jan 9, 1939! Check out
Page 52 (from google books) 
aliking4 years ago
Hey, wanted to thank you for this one. I've referrenced your Instructable in mine: http://www.instructables.com/id/Carol-from-Where-the-wild-things-areMovie-Co/
Ieatbabiez4 years ago
Thank you for posting this! It will help when I make clothing and will make for an interesting art project....:D
djenabab5 years ago
I would like to do one of legs. I have a hosiery business and I think it would be fun to do one for legs with feet. Any suggestions? Victoria
I would follow the same steps and use hose instead of the turtleneck....I hope I helped ;D
bootkidz5 years ago
very cost effective
jtmcdole5 years ago
I know I'm a little late to the party on this, but I just wanted to say thanks for the refresher course! I saw this at the 2008 Dragon*Con in Atlanta (lots of great craft panels for costuming). I'm planning on doing just an upper torso and left arm for an armor project I've been working on, should help with patterns. Tip: Draw a straight line down the back and then draw some horizontal lines crossing it. Cut on the line and when you put it back together, align the horizontal marks.
This is excellent! I'm starting to redesign second-hand clothing as a business and this is a perfect, solution for achieving a "standardized" sizing for my garments! Thanks for you great guide!
flashstick5 years ago
Thank you so much for posting this! It's going to save me about $129...
KendallM5 years ago
This seems REALLY awesome. I can't wait to try it. I may tape my husband first lol! I'll let you know how it goes!
finfan75 years ago
This would be a very interesting way to make stage armour. It also looks so much better than the old caranwrap and scotch tape, far smoother.
oddmuffin146 years ago
Really great instructable. I'm sad I didn't find it last year; it would've made my school paper projects so much easier. But I'll definitely be using it in the future!
DREDGONRED6 years ago
this is so awesome ... Thanks for posting
thanks for posting this i looked at the same web site you looked at but it is not too detailed. yours is way better and now im gunna do the same, cuz ive been using my sister as my mannequin and she is getting tired of it so i decided im gunna do this.
mpgs3246 years ago
My neice and I made the dress form from duct tape. Yours is much neater. If I want to put packing tape over the duct tape will it work?
macrumpton6 years ago
you could probably use saran wrap instead of the sacrificial turtleneck. It looks like a great way to make a fake suit of armor.
I have done exactly that for a low-budget interactive theatre production. Reinforced with a few cable ties (layered between tape layers) and painted, it lasted the whole production.
Cool! do you have pictures?
Unfortunately, no, since it was pretty low budget and I didnt' think to get any for my portfolio.
callmeshane6 years ago
Me thinks making up a plaster and cheese cloth "female mold", then splitting it and casting in a "male mold"..... as the dress form... Girlfriend - come here, I have a bright idea.... but first - let me shave your whole body : ) Yippee!!!!!
stijky (author)  callmeshane6 years ago
wow... post pictures
mrthumbtack6 years ago
heh, I'm staring at my duct tape one right now. good idea on using kraft tape and not duct tape, I've found the duct tape to be frustrating for a variety of reasons I stuffed mine with old newspaper, however, and that seems to work well Good instructable!
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