Introduction: Make a Sewing Pattern From a Packing Tape Mould

Make a sewing pattern by covering an object with a plastic bag and wrapping in packing tape.

I made a sewing pattern for a bike helmet cover, but this technique can be used to make a pattern for just about any object, even people!

Step 1: Cover and Wrap the Object

Cover the object with a thin plastic bag. A dry-cleaning bag is a good weight for this. Now wrap the object in packing tape. I cut lengths of around a foot (30cm) to make it easier, but the important thing is that you want to wrap the object tightly! Your packing tape will get lots of wrinkles - that's fine. Baggy bits? Just go over them again with more tape. Make sure the entire object is completely covered.

Step 2: Make Some Guide Marks

If you know where you will definitely want a seam, or if you want to mark in special features of the object, do it now. If your object is symmetrical, mark a centre line now. If you want to be really accurate, measure the object to find the centre line.

I marked the ventilation holes on the helmet and the stripe I will eventually put down the centre. I also marked along the bottom edge of the helmet.

Step 3: Cut It Free

I was able to cut the helmet free by cutting along the mark I made at the edge of the helmet. If your object is not as conveniently-shaped as my helmet, you might have to carefully cut down the middle or cut in a few places. If you have to do this, draw the lines first where you're going to cut. Place marks along this line as shown in the next step (step 4) so that you know where your cut lines match up.

Step 4: Cut the Pattern Pieces

If your object is symmetrical, cut down the centre line now if you haven't already. The aim of cutting the pattern pieces is to cut pieces as flat as possible so they can be later cut from fabric. I found it easier to do this piece-by-piece, starting from the edge and feeling which pieces of the shape were naturally flat.

Draw the lines first with a marker and make extra marks to show where the pieces match. If you don't do this, you could end up with a bunch of weird shapes, not knowing how to put them back together!

Don't forget that you can also cut "darts" to make a pattern piece flat without cutting it in two.

Step 5: Trace Onto Paper

Trace each piece onto paper. leave enough space for a seam allowance around each piece. I also measured each piece and put a "notch" to help match the seams. Don't forget to transfer darts if you have them.

Step 6: Make Adjustments

Cut the pattern pieces out of fabric and sew up the first draft. You might need to make a few adjustments at this point. Transfer the adjustments back onto your pattern and make a new draft until you're happy with the result.

Comments

author
jumpingnpuddles made it!(author)2009-10-01

I saw something similar to this ages ago used to make a personal, accurate dress form and had forgotten how they did it. Thanks for the idea and thanks for refreshing my memory!

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Silvester10528 made it!(author)2009-10-01

duct tape Have the person put on an under shirt and wrap them semi firmly in duct tape. You can then make a single cut up the front/back/either side and tape the form off of them in relatively one piece that is easy to tape closed again. Then you stuff the form with just about anything: crumpled paper, plastic grocery bags, poly-fill, etc... Viola, a dress form to match a specific person!

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ladiebuggg888 made it!(author)2016-09-10

is there an easy way to store them if you live with limited space? we have a family of 8 and that would take up alot of room lolol. i think it would a daunting task to unstuff each time i had to use it...

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Martha+Macgyver made it!(author)2013-08-06

I did something similar to this once and the idea may have also occured to others... Instead of using tape I used that clear plastic wrap used in shipping. Word to the wise... While this can work a bit I think this tape idea is better because I found as I cut my pattern the wrap material shrunk a little once the pressure of being wrapped around something was off. Your tape idea is much more stable I'll have to try it!

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djsfantasi made it!(author)2012-05-11

Great instructable! I followed this as an example in order to create a "skin" for my animatronic penguin. My model is only a skeleton and I had trouble covering it with a plastic bag. When applying tape, it did not follow the contours of the body, but rather stuck to the bag and created "hollows" in between the "ribs" of the skeleton.. When I cut the tape away, I used a paint brush to cover the sticky side with flour to make it non-sticky.

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Leo4613 made it!(author)2011-02-03

I liked this when I found it, used it to make a pattern for making play helmets for my nephew. Then I thought, Why not make another, not cut it in half. instead stuff it and have a head form? So I did
Now I have a head form/Hat rest with hidden storage. The can I used as a base is on it's lid so I can make use of the inside to store things.
It will look better when I paper machie (? spelling?? lol) it up.

Play Helmet07.jpgPlay Helmet08.jpg
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Seelos made it!(author)2010-06-07

Excellent method, clearly explained. Thanks!

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coraxonyx made it!(author)2009-10-02

This is a great idea! A few of us have made dress dummies using the same principles, but your technique expands the idea and is very clever and straighforward. Thanks for the idea.

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piaferre made it!(author)2009-10-01

great idea, very simple and so usefull.

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don_juanila made it!(author)2009-10-01

Great first instructable! The mind boggles at other patterns I could make with this technique, thanks!

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highwingpilot made it!(author)2009-09-29

Simply brilliant! Thanks for posting!

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Bug2k made it!(author)2009-09-25

This is a fine idea. I can see making soft plush toys from hard model designs.

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whiteoakart made it!(author)2009-09-29

Yep, it works.

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whiteoakart made it!(author)2009-09-29

This is very similar to how we design seat covers for automotive seating! This can also be used to make stuffed animals, but that's a bit more complex patterning. Great job!

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Quipe made it!(author)2009-09-27

Wow, this technique would be really useful! I've been surfing instructables for weeks, trying to decide on a fabric project that would be easy as my first project - you've just made everything seem just easier! Thanks so much :D

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megg made it!(author)2009-09-26

thanks for the nice comments - i can feel the sparks of inspiration! i'd love to see someone use this for a project for a more complex shape.

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Lizander made it!(author)2009-09-26

I might use this to make a plush version of the Halo 3 ODST Helmet!! or maybe I'll use it to make a wearable version (instead of paper, put it on cardboard then hot glue it together!!! :D )?!?!

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Lizander made it!(author)2009-09-26

Dude! this is sick!! now I can make that helmet cover (airsoft) that I wanted!!! and for like 5 bucks as to 15!!

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seamster made it!(author)2009-09-26

This is great!

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Uncle+Kudzu made it!(author)2009-09-25

so you say we can make people with this method? wonder how would i get a beautiful girl to stand still long enough to make a pattern? nah, too ambitious; never mind that just now. i may, however, attempt to make a soft version of my current avatar, Mr. Hard Head. but seriously, excellent instructable! well executed in every respect.

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OnePrettyThing made it!(author)2009-09-25

Wow, that's GENIUS! Thanks so much for explaining it so clearly, I'm really excited about this! I've been wanting a riding helmet cover for awhile now. Yay! I'll be linking to this as well.

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iectyx3c made it!(author)2009-09-25

Clever and useful for other 3D modeling projects as well. Good job!

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megg made it!(author)2009-09-25

thanks, guys!

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theRIAA made it!(author)2009-09-25

VERY cool and useful. great job!

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