Introduction: Headless Bride From Duct Tape

Picture of Headless Bride From Duct Tape

Talk about a bridezilla...

For Halloween last year I decided I wanted to go as a corpse bride since I had an awesome oh-so-eighties wedding dress at my disposal (left over from a previous theme party). The dress was so epic, any old dead bride just wouldn't do, so I started looking for inspiration.

I absolutely loved Love Bone's Headless Marie Antoinette costume, featured in Make Magazine, but I didn't have the materials or skills to sculpt it like she did.

What I did have was lots and lots of duct tape.

*For more info on me and the costume I'm currently working on, check out my blog

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

From the thrift store:
- fabulous wedding dress you don't mind altering (when I was done the dress could easily have been restored to a normal wedding dress with a little work)
-crinoline or similar underskirt
-white opera gloves
-tight fitting shirt (you'll never get this back)
-small backpack

From the hardware store:
-duct tape
-masking tape
-bamboo poles
-white glue
-paint brushes
-metal wire or clothes hanger
-paper towel
-glue gun and hot glue (optional)

From your recycling bin:
-margarine container or similar round plastic object
-plastic bottle cap

From your social circle:
-a good friend you don't mind getting very close with (ladies, he or she is going to have to have their hands all over your chest while you're wrapped up like a mummy, choose your assistants wisely)

Step 2: Wrap It Up

Picture of Wrap It Up

Put on the old shirt and have your friend wrap your torso in duct tape.

There are several good tutorials online for making duct tape dress forms:
Threads Magazine
and even on Instructables

Be very careful of how you wrap your breasts! If you don't want a flat chested bride be sure to work on the diagonal and support, not squish, your boobs.

Have your assistant carefully smooth down each strip of duct tape as he/she goes. This will make the next steps easier.

As you can see from the photo, I used a t-shirt. In hindsight, I think it would have been much easier had I worn long sleeves.

Step 3: Take Off Your Shirt

Picture of Take Off Your Shirt

Have your assistant carefully cut through the duct tape and shirt. It's best to cut in a straight line up the middle of your back. Try not to cut your bra off while you're at it.

Peel off the duct tape dummy. If it won't easily slip off your arms you can make straight cuts along the sleeves.

Tape over the cuts you made with more duct tape.

You now have a duct tape clone of yourself!
I named my dummy Ducky.

Step 4: Touch Up the Torso

Picture of Touch Up the Torso

Trim off the shirt and duct tape below the bust.  Depending on the cut of your wedding dress, you shouldn't need more than the neck, shoulders and breasts. A dress with a low cut back would need a longer dummy. You can finish off the edges with more duct tape.

Once you've got her cut down to size you can stuff her with newspaper so she'll hold her shape while you work on her.

Step 5: Papier Mache Time

Picture of Papier Mache Time

To add a little strength to the duct tape torso you can cover it in papier maché.

There are lots of great instructables on how to papier maché, but here's how I do it:

Cut the newspaper into little strips.
Dilute the white glue with warm water.
Dip the strips of paper into the glue, squeeze most of it off then apply the strip.
Let it dry between layers. Using a hair dryer can help speed up the process.

After a couple layers of papier maché your torso should be hard and able to hold its shape without stuffing.

If you didn't use a long sleeve shirt, now would be the time to add some papier maché arms with the help of cardboard, newspaper and masking tape. Don't worry too much about anything past the elbows as you'll have gloves to cover the forearms.

Step 6: Paint It White

Picture of Paint It White

Give your torso a thick coat of primer or white paint to cover up the newsprint.

I found it helpful to prop her up on a box.

Step 7: Blood and Gore

Picture of Blood and Gore

Now for the gross part!

Fill in the opening at the neck with something  round from your recycling bin: coffee tin, pop bottle or margarine container. Secure it in place with duct tape or a glue gun.
Don't push it all the way to the top, you'll want room for torn flesh and all that fun stuff.

Make the end of the spine, trachea, jugular veins, etc out of plastic bottle caps or bits of cardboard.

Dip paper towel or tissue paper in white glue and scrunch it up to create the gory texture.

Consult some anatomy drawings if you need a little inspiration.

Paint the exposed flesh to match your skin tone and go wild with the bloody bits.

I was originally planning on rigging up a squirt gun in order to shoot blood out of the neck but I ran out of time. If you take it that extra step I would love to see the photos.

Step 8: Dress Her Up

Picture of Dress Her Up

Dress your bride in her wedding gown.

For her hands and arms, create the outline of hands and forearms out of wire. Secure the wire to the dummy and put on her opera gloves. Position the hands so they will look like they are holding your head. You can fill out the forearms by stuffing the gloves with batting or paper. For extra points give her a ring!

Using scissors or a seam ripper, take apart the seam at the waist of your dress. Open it just enough to let your head slip through. If it looks like the rest of the stitching will unravel, you can secure it with a couple stitches to either side of the opening.

Step 9: Hoist 'er Up

Picture of Hoist 'er Up

Attach the bamboo poles to the inside of the torso with duct tape.

Try inserting the poles into your backpack and then cut the bamboo to the right height for the opening of the dress to sit at your actual neck when you are wearing the backpack. Your head should fit comfortably under the dummy's bust and in the bride's hands.

It may be helpful to lay the costume on the floor and try it on while lying down so you do not need an assistant to help you get the fit right.

Once the bamboo poles are the right length you can secure them inside the backpack with duct tape or create channels for them to slip into by sewing two lines down either side of where they should fit in the backpack.

Step 10: Party Time! Excellent!

Picture of Party Time! Excellent!

You're done!

Put on the crinoline and a white tank top and go show off your incredible costume!
Add some fake blood dripping down the front of the skirt and a veil in your hair to finish off the look.

Your real arms are usually hidden from view under the top skirt, but you still have easy access to drinks whenever you want to break the illusion.

The duct tape torso is so light you should have no trouble dancing the night away or doing whatever else you'd like. I even took my costume bowling!

If, like me, you're 6'2" in heels, this costume will make you monstrously tall. I found that group photos worked best when I was on my knees, so wearing a pair of knee pads might be a good idea.


ShannonJ7 made it! (author)2015-11-01

Couldn't find a wedding gown so my daughter went as a headless prom queen. Your instructions were easy to follow our paper mache was done with the help of a five year old so it wasn't very smooth we just got a sweater from goodwill and completely covered her up. My daughter couldn't believe people took pictures of her. Thank you for a great Halloween idea

eeVee (author)2014-10-14

Amazing ible!

craigtwoyou (author)2014-04-12

Your tutorials are well written and informative. My daughter and I made your pirate/ mermaid costume a couple of years ago and it was a big hit when she went out at Halloween. This past Halloween we made this headless bride and it was even more of a success. Here is a picture. Thank you for the g

ukdebbiegrant (author)2013-10-27

Thank you so much for such a fab costume idea, I have one very happy little lady this Halloween :)

gbaenen (author)2012-10-27

Here is mine, After trial and error next year I will do different things to make it a tad bit easier

ModMischief (author)gbaenen2012-11-05

Thanks for sharing the picture!

cbragg2 (author)2012-10-31

Thanks for such a great costume idea and instructions. I won $350 with my costume and had such a fun time with it - loads of people wanting to take pictures and people genuinely frightened - especially the kids, here is a picture for you.

ModMischief (author)cbragg22012-11-05

You both look great! Thanks for posting the pictures!

TheDreamer (author)2012-10-26

Is there a way to do this without the dress, If you do not have a thrift store nearby and dont have one available to you? I love this idea and would love to have a way to do it without a dress. Hope you continue to have many, many more wonderful ideas.   


ModMischief (author)TheDreamer2012-10-26

If you don't have a long dress you could do the same thing with a long overcoat or trench coat.

sarahabijo (author)2012-09-26

here is my version of the Headless Bride. Thanks so much for this idea. I got so much compliment and won a netbook and $200 gc. I was also televise in our local channel News. I cannot walked 2 ft. without someone asking me to take picture. Thanks so much.

abroom (author)2012-02-15

I made this and mine did not turn out as well too. I still got many compliments on it though.


melassey (author)2011-10-31

thanks for the instructions! Mine didn't come out as good as yours but here is a photo:

I also gave you credit on my blog:

Brittles888 (author)2011-10-30

I made this costume AND I rigged it up to a squirt bottle with fake blood! (I removed the tip of the nozzle on a squirt bottle and attached a small plastic hose to it with a hose clamp. I attached the end of the hose to the center of the severed neck and clipped the bottle onto my waist. I walked around squirting blood all night. When people got mad about blood getting on them "I said I'm really sorry. I can't help it. My jugular's severed!") I won first prize. :) Thanks for this instructable.

ahastings5 (author)2011-10-29

LOVE THIS.... Made this costume yesterday for a party last night. I used a long sleeve dress with a high neck line because it is cold out in MT. I tried doing the paper part but it did not work out to good for me. I instead wrapped the parts I needed to with masking tape. Because my dress had a high neck and long sleeves I did not have to paint very much, so I bought spray paint. I also stuffed my headless body with towel and used towels for the arms as well... no carboard.

andinofina (author)2011-10-27

Quick question, how long should the poles be and where did you get your poles?

Also would you recommend using a different type of poles that's more readily available at Home Depot and Lowes if bamboo poles aren't?

ModMischief (author)andinofina2011-10-27

The length of the poles will depend on the length of your torso and where the backpack sits on your back.

I found the bamboo poles in the garden section of a hardware store, but anything relatively light and strong should work. You could try using broomsticks, pvc pipe, wood dowels or something like that.

Lolmaster101 (author)2011-10-25

i donnt git da bat waen u put thee bambo stiks in the ruksakc lill heelp!!?? gr8 idea tho! :D

ModMischief (author)Lolmaster1012011-10-25

Please see my response to your previous comment

Lolmaster101 (author)2011-10-24

i dont get how you put the bamboo sticks in the backpack????!!! lil help please!!! thankz

ModMischief (author)Lolmaster1012011-10-24

Think of it like the boning in a corset or wire in a bra. You want to make a narrow pocket to hold each pole.

Or if you're in a hurry, you can just use a ton of hot glue and duct tape to hold them in place.

anutt (author)2011-09-15

That is tooo freaking cool!

abroom (author)2011-08-31

This is awesome! I assume you can't wear it in the car and have to take it off each time you travel to a different destination.

Fun2Hold (author)2011-07-28

One word for you: Awesomesauce. ;)

ander (author)2009-10-21

And you specifically recommend using this costume in a bowling alley? I do find bowling alleys scary, so that wouldn't be a bad idea.

nagutron (author)ander2009-10-22

I had the thought of the bride bowling her own head. Not possible, of course, but a creepy concept...

ModMischief (author)nagutron2009-10-22

Wow, I wish I could pull off something like that.

Not sure how it could be done beyond photoshop, but it would be awesome!

wwjoshuad (author)ModMischief2010-10-31

maybe store an arsenal of dummy heads under the dress and just duck your head in real quick when you're throwing that strike? ;)

ladygrail (author)2010-09-28

I am thinking of doing a modification of this costume I want to be able to use at least one arm in the costume so I can create the illusions of a headless fortune teller and still read tarot cards. I plan on doing alot of sitting instead of walking. Any suggestions? Thanks a bunch I love your idea.

ModMischief (author)ladygrail2010-09-28

I'm not sure how you could make it work in a sitting position. You might be able to pull it off by sitting on a short step stool under the skirt while people sit on taller chairs in front of you.

For a design that lets you use one arm, check out the Marie Antoinette costume that inspired me:
She has one fake arm "holding" her head and half a fake arm on the other side. Her real forearm comes out at the elbow. You'd obviously need a dress with sleeves to make this work, but that shouldn't be too hard to pull off for a fortune teller.

I'd love to see the finished costume if you work it out!

TsukimiyaJun (author)2010-09-06

Hi there, your projects are very awesome, falling in love with it /(=>W<)/ I have one question regarding the choice of wedding dress~ Must it be a floor-length one? I am having one knee-length wedding dress, so I was thinking of convert it into a Headless Bride costume... Thank you & have a nice day ^O^

ModMischief (author)TsukimiyaJun2010-09-28

I think a knee length dress would work as long as it will hide your torso. Just make sure you have an underskirt that matches, to cover your legs.

DAS-Machina (author)2010-09-26

You could save time and effort if you used plaster bandages instead of duct tape and paper mache. you would need to use plastic (think dry cleaning bags) or other mold release (vaseline) under the t-shirt But it would save a step and once dry it would be almost as light.

ModMischief (author)DAS-Machina2010-09-27

Plaster bandages would definitely work but I don't think you'd save much time or effort. Having used them on my Ludo mask I can tell you that you would need to do several layers of plaster to get it strong enough. Plaster seems to take longer to dry than just paper and glue, so you might even end up spending more time doing it that way.

Another thing to consider is how brittle plaster is. The duct tape and papier mache is still pretty flexible when done. This was a very good thing as I occasionally forgot to duck under doors. I don't know if plaster would have held up as well.

If you do decide to go the plaster route, skip the t-shirt and go topless. Just be sure to use lots of vaseline.

shellyyelly (author)2010-09-07

Thank you so much for the excellent costume instructions, I made the headless bride costume last year and took home the 1st place $500.00 prize at our local pub.

trebornerdnoc (author)2009-11-24

where are ur arms and cud u use da same concept foer a grioom ?

Step 10: "Your real arms are usually hidden from view under the top skirt, but you still have easy access to drinks whenever you want to break the illusion."

This concept could be adapted to a headless man, but you'd need to have him wearing a long tailed coat or something else to hide your shoulders and torso. With this bride, the wearer's shoulders are hidden by the full skirt and look like hips. The dress is also nice because it hides your lower body and lets you drop to your knees for photos while still looking like you are standing. I'm not sure how that could be accomplished with pants.

If you wanted to turn this into a couple's costume, I think the best bet would be to get the groom to wear stilts so he's as tall as the bride and then have him die another way (stabbed in the back? stake to the heart?).

porcupinemamma (author)2009-11-13

would it be possible to show how the bamboo sticks are placed? Thanks-fab costume

Sorry, I don't have a photo of how I attached the poles on the inside. I had to get rid of the costume soon after halloween as I didn't have room for it in my apartment (having her around is like having an extra roommate!).

The bamboo ran parallel as far apart as the width of the inside of the backpack and was secured on the inside of the dummy's shoulders, against the back.

kimmy_girl (author)2009-11-14

Hehe- Wayne's World!

I really like this, it looks amazing!

sdhardie (author)2009-11-03

I followed your How-To and made this costume for Halloween this year.  I had to make some changes, since my dress was strapless, but overall it looked really fantastic and was a huge hit!!  Thanks for posting the instructions!!

teslafan100 (author)2009-10-20

That's from "The Encyclopedia Of Immaturity"

ModMischief (author)teslafan1002009-11-02

What's from the Encyclopedia of Immaturity?

eoutlaw (author)teslafan1002009-11-02
This book is the best!  I have tons of paper airplanes because of this book.
eoutlaw (author)2009-11-02

I love your costume!

mommyknows1 (author)2009-10-30

Thank you for this. My daughter won first place today @ school.

She was a headless Marie Antoinette, we used your instructable to make the body form.

a headless marie antoinette 

See more at:  Headless Marie Antoinette Costume

Bill_D_3rd (author)2009-10-27

Nice work on a great Instructable. My daughter has that same picture of Audrey Hepburn. From Breakfast at Tiffany's I believe...

kylara70 (author)2009-10-22

I don't "do" halloween, but I am impressed by your creativity!  Thanks for sharing and I hope some day I can find another use for the concept.

criggie (author)kylara702009-10-22

Kylara - I admire and support your attitude towards halloween.

Einarjon (author)2009-10-22

Slapping a pork chop on the neck might be a nice touch (although it might be a bit too disgusting), as it is meat and bone sticking out.

About This Instructable




Bio: For more about my costumes, crafts and general craziness, check out my blog:
More by ModMischief:Making a Duct Tape CloneQuick Bamboo Skewer BBQ BrushKevin From Up
Add instructable to: