Instructables

Make a sewing pattern from a packing tape mould

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Picture of Make a sewing pattern from a packing tape mould
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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!
 
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Step 1: Cover and wrap the object

Picture of Cover and wrap the object
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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

Picture of Make some guide marks
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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

Picture of 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.
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!
djsfantasi2 years ago
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.
Leo46133 years ago
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.
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Seelos4 years ago
Excellent method, clearly explained. Thanks!
coraxonyx4 years ago
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.
piaferre4 years ago
great idea, very simple and so usefull.
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!
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!
don_juanila4 years ago
Great first instructable! The mind boggles at other patterns I could make with this technique, thanks!
Simply brilliant! Thanks for posting!
Bug2k4 years ago
This is a fine idea. I can see making soft plush toys from hard model designs.
Yep, it works.
whiteoakart4 years ago
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!
Quipe4 years ago
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
megg (author) 4 years ago
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.
Lizander megg4 years ago
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 )?!?!
Lizander4 years ago
Dude! this is sick!! now I can make that helmet cover (airsoft) that I wanted!!! and for like 5 bucks as to 15!!
seamster4 years ago
This is great!
Uncle Kudzu4 years ago
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.
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.
iectyx3c4 years ago
Clever and useful for other 3D modeling projects as well. Good job!
megg (author) 4 years ago
thanks, guys!
theRIAA4 years ago
VERY cool and useful. great job!