- I bring whole new meaning to the word novice seamstress
- Toddler factor (it’s like trying to layout and cut fabric with a dozen cats in the room)
- I am very pear shaped, not something all dress dummies work well with
- Budget, budget, budget
I’ve heard about the “duct tape dress form” a few times in the SCA but didn’t have much more than a vague idea of some silver tape, my body, and a pair of scissors. Today a group of ladies got together and actually made them – successfully! So here is a walk through of the process, guidance courtesy of Mistress Marion Leoncina da Susa.
Things you’ll need:
- A sacrificial t-shirt, form fitting
- Duct tape – about 3 rolls, doesn’t have to be name brand but that did seem to be more stiff and hold shape a bit better.
- Sharp scissors
- Filler – packing paper, newspaper, etc
- Something to hang your dress form on that is your height
- 2×4 stand that is shoulder height
- make a stand from PVC pipe and joints
- Floor lamp and cross beam
- A Friend! This is definitely a 2 or more project
Get dressed! Mistress Marion pointed out that you’ll need to wear the same undergarments you plan on wearing in your finished garb. Bust silhouettes changed over the SCA period and using the right undergarments will let you shape your finished garb to the shape you’re working towards.
She also suggested two t-shirts. This let the scissors slide between the duct taped sacrificial t-shirt and the undershirt, rather than on bare skin.
Make sure hair is pulled up and out of the way. Stand in a comfortable position with your arms loosely at your side. Don’t suck in – you’ll want to be able to breath both during this and in your garb!
The first layer of duct tape carefully follows the contours of the body. The key here is to keep the duct tape flat. You’re not looking for straight lines, but for smooth tape.
Step 2 notes: Keep standing still (ish – I’m bad at this!) and keep breathing :). Having someone to tear strips of tape while the other person applied them made this a lot easier.
Step 3: Apply a 2nd layer of duct tape. You want these strips crossing over the first layer in an X shape. Make sure to cover from neck to hip, and over the top of the shoulder.
Watch out for hair! Our tape tearer also served as a hair holder upper 🙂
Step 4: Apply a 3rd layer of duct tape, again crossing directions with the 2nd layer. The back and forth layers function like a basket grid – holding the shape firmly.
Step 5: Cut! Using sharp scissors, slide a hand between the two shirts at the lower back and then cut up the center back of the shape.
Step 6: Wiggle out! The form is shaped!
Step 7: Build / find / jury rig a frame. You’ll need some kind of vertical post and a crossbar that is slightly narrower than your shoulders.
- Use 2″ x 4″ wood to build an armor stand or pell shape
- Use PVC pipe and joints to build a stand that can break apart for travel
- Use a standing lamp and cross bar! I used strapping tape to afix a shoulder bar to the lamp just a little below my shoulder height.
Step 8: Stuff it! I started at the top and used packing paper to adjust the dress form to be right at my height.
I ended up doing this in a few steps. I stuffed the very top and shoulders while it was standing up. Then angled it onto a chair to stuff the chest and upper back. Then a very supportive hubby held the entire thing upside down so I could stuff the bottom and hips of the form. A few more strips of tape across the bottom of the arms, over the neckline, and under the body of the form and voila!
Delia and Margarett kindly added some additional suggestions!
- Use a dowel drying rod to hold additional strips of tape. This goes fastest with at least one tape tearer and two tape appliers.
- While the form is still on -use a sharpie to mark the belly button, center of the chest, center of the back, and shoulder seams.
- If you want a high neck, use a separate scrap of cloth to wrap around your neck.
- Putting a tight T-shirt on the form after it’s stuck will cover any sticky edges and give your pins something to stick into.