Introduction: Headless Bride From Duct Tape

About: For more about my costumes, crafts and general craziness, check out my blog:
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

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