DIY Duct tape dress form: Do’s and Don’ts

Let’s celebrate the last bits of august with a DIY project.

The duct tape dress form: the best outcome for any desperate sewer or seamstress who keeps using him or herself as a pincushion. And for all of us who just don’t want to spend a great deal of money on an adjustable dress form.

I wouldn’t want to bore you all with another long tutorial, and I wouldn’t have to! Since the whole internet is full of wonderful articles that teach you just how to get the duct tape dress form done nicely, I’ll only  and shortly break down my own process for you.

My own process for two dress forms
I used 2x 25 meter duct tape (which was not really enough), 2 cans of isolation foam (a small one and a big one), loads of used (news)paper, 3 pvc pipes (for two dress form stands) & some fittings, of course an old tee and microwave foil (where I first used extra fabric).

Necessities dress formI followed the tutorials I found online and within half an hour I already had the duct tape layout. I had it then cut out by someone who I could trust with scissors, which resulted in a piece cut of my bra :/.
But it was very much fun to do!

I then stuffed the first form loosely with paper, closed every hole with cardboard, stuck the stand in and began filling it with isolation foam. Two errors became clear afterwards: too fancy on the paper and too quick with the foam. It had way too many air pockets because of the big props of paper, so I noted that the second should have smaller paper props in it. I had to correct quite some bumps here and there when I became a little too impatient with the isolation foam, so I noted to reduce the stress a bit on that part. The next form I made was my revise-de-faux and it went much better than expected. I used fabric to cover up the shoulders and neck for the first form and then it became clear to me that microwave foil is much easier and cheaper. So I used that while making the second one. I now have two little sisters added to the family and they are awesome (and very quiet) ;).

I now have also made a stand from the rest of the pvc pipes combining them with the fittings, but it is way too ugly to show you..

Your questions answered

But I myself had another problem with this amazing DIY project. What are the do’s and the dont’s? Do I use isolation foam? Where and how much? Will I ruin everything if I make a mistake? How many layers of duct tape? I’ll hope to answer all your questions (yes, I consider myself quite the mistake-professional after making two duct tape dress forms 😉 ), so please read on if you are curious which possible terrors might await.

Dress form process2

What filling do I use? – I have seen a lot of different fillings used across the internet, from isolation foam to fiber fillings and newspaper. I myself have only made the (news)paper version and partially the isolation foam one. Continue reading the next question.

Do I use isolation foam? I have used an entire can of isolation foam on the first dress form. I had filled it loosely with paper props and closed it with cardboard and the stand. Where there was too much space, I cut a small slit and filled it with the foam. You need to let it ooze out! Otherwise you’ll have more chance of bumps. When it dries, you can peel the rest off. For the bottom, it went amazing. The contours were nicely stiff and still shaped the same. Then happy and content me went on and got a bit overboard with filling. It was a good thing I filled everything up in sections so that if I had done something wrong, I wouldn’t have destorted everything at once. My advice: make small paper props and fill it as good as you can. Use isolation foam for those few air pockets and use it carefully. It is better to fill it less than too much. Warning! Isolation foam can be unhealthy and a bit dangerous, so don’t try to breath it in or to touch it when it is sticky. What did I do you ask? Uhmm.. I might just know exactly how sticky it is, yes.

How do I get rid of a bump because of the isolation foam? Almost every inelegant bump can be dealt with. Use some sort of (box) cutter and carefully come in from the side of the bump, and cut a slit. You can come in with a vile or keep using the cutter and just “neatly” destroy the excess. It takes some effort, but it is better to deal with those nasty things than to start over. I did know from that point on I was going to be very careful with isolation foam. I suggest you always use less than you think you need since it expands. You can always alter and add some afterwards.


How do I insert the filling? When you are done and you have restored the back, you put the form upside down and fill it as much as you can with small props of paper if you don’t use anything like fiber filling. Don’t use isolation foam to fill up the entire form! Isolation foam expands and will ruin the project. Only use the isolation foam in the necessary air pockets that need some extra volume, do that gently and in sections. If you use fiber filling, you will probably need less isolation foam. The paper and isolation form does (I think) however give you more of a sturdy dress form that can bear more weight. *Also read do I use isolation foam.

How much filling and duct tape do I need? As much as is necessary :). I used one smaller can of isolation foam on the first dress form, which was still too less. I then used a huge and entire can on the second form and to fill the last bits of the first form. For my form, 25 meters of duct tape was just enough. Like crazily just enough to cover that last spot. I’d recommend you to get more than 25 meters of duct tape also for covering the openings you might make when filling some spots of your form. For the paper: I used a lot of paper! Don’t worry, the paper was all used and otherwise would have been thrown away.

Will I ruin everything if I make a mistake? That really depends! Isolation foam is the greatest threat to your project, but also the best finishing addition. If you mess up some of the duct tape, you can always cut it a bit here and there or add another layer.

Which pattern should I follow for the duct tape? I did much on instinct. Try to make the contours come out as good as possible. Mostly you begin with a full “belt” around your middle. From there you make a cross across the chest that will form the base of the buste. Below the middle, you can mostly go horizontal all the way. I stopped just below the derrière.

How many layers of duct tape are necessary? I didn’t believe it when I first cut out my first form, that the form would hold. Not any tutorial said how many layers were necessary and I was afraid it would all kind of sink into a sad lump of duct tape. But it didn’t! It was so weird seeing yourself or someone else back in the dress form. It is really funny to see. So to answer this: just one layer will do.

Two dress forms2

Duct tape dress forms in the making

And lastly but very importantly:
Will I have fun? – Believe me, the one duct taping you will ;). It might be a bit hot and unpleasant, and you might look like a robot – but you will have fun during the process and long after it. It is your body shape after all, and everything you make on it will be fit for you.

I hope I helped you, and please leave a like if you were inspired. Any more questions? Please ask them below. Also comment if you have tried this DIY! I’d love to know and to help if I can ❤


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