added October 2007

OK, I've finished the lion's share of the DTD work (third wrapping finished, just have to mount hardware for stand base on a plywood block).  My poor husband actually got drafted to do the wrapping, and he did a great job considering general short attention span and complete ignorance on how to tape.  Two hours of relative weirdness and we were done with the wrapping and cut it off (he disppeared almost simultaneously).  Part two was left to me--stuffing, third wrapping, etc.

I am small busted (34A) with a rather sizable butt (40), and fairly swaybacked to boot.  Plus short--5'2" on a good day.  I was pretty darn sad to see what bustline I have get smooshed in all the taping, and then I ran into some bewilderment with the stuffing process.  I couldn't get a good sense of how much stuffing where, so I overstuffed the upper chest and shoulder area.  Things were ok and the critical hip area seemed pretty good and accurate until I tackled the oval for the bottom stuffing support.  Yikes!  Suddenly my hip/thigh area was twisting.

I kept checking the measurements and the hemline marks to keep proportion and posture under control, but things went a little haywire when I fitted the bottom foamboard oval into position...I had my husband mark under my butt but at the fullest part of my thighs, and that was the 27" mark.  I used a 30" flexicurve to shape the oval, in 2 parts, front and back, traced it on the foam board, cut just inside the oval (marking front, back and side seams), but couldn't quite fit it into the "hem" of the DTD.  I kept shaving off the edge until I could slip it in, but I think I made a mistake putting the hole for the PVC pipe fairly center on the oval.  I didn't figure it out until I'd finished the entire third wrapping;  I stood back and realized the 27" marks were off everywhere.  The measurements are still generally accurate, but the posture is stranger  and definitely off my markings.  I think the twisting was added when I did the final, horizontal wrapping with long pieces ofduct tape. 

I guess I have a couple questions: how firm do you stuff (I'm using polyester batting in a 5lb. box)?    Do you stuff based on mirror feedback (which makes the stuffing with the form horizontal pretty inconvenient)?  I was under the assumption that the overall shape of the duct tape form, after 2 wrappings, wouldn't stretch appreciably with stuffing, so I was pretty generous, but then I must have overstuffed to get the bloated look at the top of the torso.

Can I fix the posture and twisting at this point?  I'm frustrated, because it was looking very accurate up until stuffing, and I don't want to give up but I'm not sure if I can just cut the bottom board out (without completely undoing the third wrapping) unstuff, realign on the PVC and base, then cut a better foam board with the pole hole better positioned (any tips on figuring that bit out?  should I cut the center hole larger and align it vertically, then tape up the extra hole space?  HELP!!!)

Thanks for any tips or advice you can supply.  Best wishes, Deb

You just might have stuffed too tightly. You want it to be firm, but not stressing on the tape. It does stretch a little.
On my form the hole is not center at all. It's a bit forward. That's why you have to keep checking the alignments while you stuff. Your posture will determine where the pole goes. This is explained in figure DTD0086 in my instructions. If you don't get the hole in the right place the form will not be standing with your posture and I can see how you might get a twisting you described.
I do think you need to do the stuffing over taking care to check the measurements as you go as it's described in my instructions.  

Thank you very much for this. I have a friend coming over this weekend to "tape me up, Scotty!" This is going to transform my sewing. I'm very excited. I have a question... does the wooden hanger have to be a big, shaped one like in the photo? Can it be just a regular old wooden hanger? If not... where can I buy one of those big hangers?

The shape of the hanger doesn't matter much. It's for extra support. If the one you have fits your shoulder area than use it. If you want one like I used you can buy them at most department stores like K Mart, Target, Wal Mart, etc.


I have made my body double. The part that is wrong seems to be in the hanger slope. I should have push the hanger farther into the model. You may wish to make that more clear as it is a very important focal point of any pattern. I plan to cut and reposition this hanger farther down into the model. I hope it works it was a lot of work to get to this point. I will say that the body is really cool. Just the arm hole area and shoulders are currently a problem. Let me know if you have encountered this problem and how it was addressed.

You are the first person to report trouble with the hanger placement. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "further into the model". Do you mean that the hanger distorting the shoulder curve? Perhaps your shoulder slope is not the same angle as your hanger. I can see how a hanger that is longer than your shoulders are could make the shoulder area distort too.

The hanger is meant to be a reinforcement, not really defining the shoulder line itself. Do you have any exact wording suggestions that would make this clearer?

Yes, I would say that the slope of the hanger interferes with my own shoulder shape and slope. My shoulders are rather straight and the hanger slopes up too soon. (About midway across my shoulder) The shoulder and arm area have given me trouble. I have cut and realigned and lessened the arm pit area already.. I want to cut and lower the hanger into the body of my dress form to make the shape better conform to my shoulders. As it is now, my "neck" starts half way across the shoulder area. I hope I've better explained the problem.

Do you think I will loose the too much strength, shape or overall integrity of the dress form if I start cutting across the shoulder or do you think across the upper back would be a safer choice? I am using a sleeveless shirt that fits
very nicely through the shoulders and back to help guide me through the problems. On the form, the shirt pulls up at the back armpit area. I am having a great time with the whole process and hope you can assist!

The hanger I used in mine that first one I did just happened to be a good slope to match my shoulder. I have seen many hanger that would not have been good for me since then, so I can see how you would have a real headache trying to use a hanger that didn't fit right. I would either try to find a more compatible hanger, or pack more stuffing material on the top side of the hanger to support your shoulder's particular slope.

I do feel that using a hanger is necessary to the stability of the form in the long run though. The combination of the hanger and pole are just as essential to the form as our spine and shoulder bones are for us.

I would not recommend cutting the back or shoulder area. It is such a critical area for the rest of the form's strength. I'd recommend working through the neck and arm openings.

Hi, I made "me" on Saturday. Very comical, especially when I had to go potty. It took my sister and I 3 hours. I do have one question in particular. When cutting off - why cut on those diagonal lines? It was much easier to re-seal on the bottom, where it was cut straight up. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you, Peggy

It is easier to seal, but the seal will last much longer if it has stability. Cutting the diagonals gives the back more stability when the last layer is taped. I started out cutting the back straight, but when my first Double started busting out at that weak straightly cut back first I started cutting the diagonals. The diagonal give the tape more places to stick to, making a more secure closing.

I was wondering if you thought a partial DTD (say, from just below the bust to just below the hip/through the crotch) would work. My concerns are how I would keep the stuffing from coming out the top and bottom (leg) openings. Have you ever done a DTD like this, or do you have any advice that might be helpful?

I think I would do this kind of like the hip part of the form, placing cardboard over the openings and taping really well. Then taping a hanger to the top.

Why do you recommend shoulder pads to fill in the bust area instead of bra cups like used in swim suits? Thanks, Jean

Real simple answer - I didn't think of it. I used the shoulder pads because I thought the foam would help the breast to hold up better. On my form the breasts are rather smushed from the years of use I've inflicted on it. (And from me knocking it over, landing on it's chest too many times)

I like your idea to use bra cups, but I think I would also put the shoulder pads inside the cups for the added insurance.

My sister and I both love this idea, but have some preliminary questions.  (Which, yes, means that you'll probably hear from us again...). We are both fairly heavy.  My sister is very top heavy.  This is why we both sew...  Anyway,  we kinda' wonder if any stand will support our doubles' weights.  Any suggestions for stuffing "lighter" or stronger stands?

You really can't stuff lighter. The Christmas tree stand idea should work well for you. Just think how heavy a tree is. I saw some stands at Franks last season that looked like they could hold up a very hefty tree.

I've been having a lot of fun making a double but I have one question.  How can you get the width and depth of the double to remain accurate to your own?

It's not easy, but all you have to do is stuff accurately. Keep checking the width and depth measurements. Where it's too wide, take some stuffing out of the sides and put it in the front or back. Where it's too deep, take some out and put it in the sides. Just keep stuffing firmly and it will work.

Could you use that "expandable foam" stuff to fill in the inside of the form? I think it's called aerosol polyurethane expanding foam hole filler, (one brand is called Touch n' Foam) available in home/hardware centers and from building supply sources. I have seen this product used for quite a few craft projects. You would have to seal off all but one hole, then spray in. I believe the duct tape would be strong enough to keep shape when this stuff expands.

I have seen people use paper to make a form, such as a topiary shape and spray it in. You could then slice off excess that comes out of hole through expansion. This would create a firm, but pin able surface and you wouldn't have to worry about settling of batting.

Maybe you could cut/position the padded foam board so that it fits against the parallel-to-floor line and tape it, then spray foam through the neckline opening instead of the reverse, or if that isn't feasible, leave a hole in center back, spray foam down to fill bottom, measure to be sure bottom is parallel when foam is set, then spray through hole in back topward to fill out shoulders/neck, bust, etc., then spray the rest of the middle.

This sounds like a great plan. I'll try it with the next one I do.

For this one I used mostly dryer lint. I collected the lint from the catcher in my dryer for almost a year before I sat down to stuff the form we had made from the meeting. I had to buy 6 more bags of fiberfill to finish though. I am rather thin (130 lb.. When I did this form), but it takes a lot to stuff firmly.

I thought about that spray foam, but am glad I used the fiberfill. I can pin into it so nicely I wonder if the foam would do as well. I've read some posts on the net that you can not pin into the foam though. And I doubt I would have had the control over the posture of the form using foam. It did take me half a day to stuff as it was.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some kind soul has written me to inform us that stuffing the form with dryer lint could be hazardous. It seems that dryer lint has been known to be combustible. Which means that under the right conditions, like being contained under a lot of pressure, it could spontaneously combust.

A response to the Dryer Lint Question:

 Dryer lint is just as explosive, and for the same reasons, as flour.  The rate of combustion of a carbohydrate such as cellulose is proportional to the amount of oxygen that it is in contact with, which in turn is proportional to the surface area.  By the square-cubed law, the smaller that something is the greater the surface area in proportion to the volume (mass).

In other words:

 When you have a combustible material that is in a very fine powder, evenly disbursed in the air, a high percentage of it is in contact with oxygen at any given time, and it will burn very fast (explode).

This is why granaries will occasionally explode.  So, unless you are mixing your dryer lint with an oxidant like Potassium Nitrate (saltpeter, used in making gunpowder), having it tightly compressed is about the safest way to keep it.  I wouldn't worry about your body double spontaneously exploding any more than I would worry about a  5 pound sack of flour in your kitchen exploding.


Dryer Lint Addendum:

I have had my dryer lint stuffed Double for about 8 years now and no sign of it trying to explode yet. But I'll keep you posted :)

I have heard of people stuffing with newspaper, can this be used as well?

I think you could but the news paper might weaken after awhile and not be so firm as the fiberfill.

I have a regular dress form but it does not BULGE in the spots that I bulge in so was wondering if I could combine the duct tape and my form?

I'm not sure just how to do this, but I'm sure it could be done. If anyone has any ideas on this subject, please let me know.

Could I use this duct tape double method to place my oh-so-much-larger figure over my much too small dress form? Seems I could drape it off the shoulders, then add the necessary stuffing. Sound plausible?

This situation sounds doable, and a big savings in stuffing cost. It will still be difficult to do in making sure everything comes out accurate. But you may even come out with a more stable form. Just use your form like it was the tube and take your time. Keep measuring the form as you stuff. It will take small amounts of fiberfill placed carefully, but it should work.

I read that someone used plastic grocery bags to stuff their DTD.  Have you heard of this?

What a great idea. I must have enough bags for 3 forms right now! I do think I'll try this on the next one.

Can't say anyone has tried this but I think it would work well. You may want to use some polyfil also to keep that nice texture. Please let me know if you do yours this way.

I'm not sure how to place the shoulder pads in the bust area because they are shaped differently than a regular bra.

It's hard to describe. But think of the bust as a shoulder shape. Place the pad as if the breast were just that, with the neck side of the pad pointing toward the neck and the shoulder side in the cup area. Adjust the position slightly as needed for your shape.

Hope this makes sense.

I was reading through the questions and comments of the DTD.  One of the questions was whether or not one could use expanding foam to fill the dress form. Although I haven't used this method to fill a dress form I do have some advice on the subject.  I work in the theater and I have used this product quite extensively for filling forms.  This is a great product it creates a durable strong and light weight filler and if you have a mold the object can easily be re-created. 

The problem is two fold, first: Spray foam is designed for insulation and filling small cracks in your house.  The key word here being small cracks.  When you try to fill such a large space it takes hours if not days to dry and the outer layers tend to dry so thoroughly that even after you think it is dry it is still expanding.  This can cause distortion after the form is closed. 

The second problem is that in my experience after about two weeks a fill job of this size tends to shrink and settle considerably.  My experience was in an attempt to make a "plaster looking" Greek bust of a man.  We molded a three dimensional bust out of plasticine and cast it in plaster, then took a cast of the plaster with liquid latex. Then we filled the latex in two halves with touch n' foam, it worked great and allowed the clumsy actors to drop it in rehearsal and not damage it at all. But after two weeks the bust appeared (quite amusingly) to have aged 50 years and was wrinkled and quite disturbing. 

When all is said and done, I would definitely recommend NOT trying such a lengthy project as the DTD with the expanding foam, and sticking to the polyfil.
Thanks for listening,

Wow, Thank You for the great information!! I will try to get this up on the site real soon.

A Special Thanks-

To all my Internet friends who have given suggestions for this page. Whether it was an easier way to make the form you discovered while trying this method for yourself, or helping me phrase an instruction so it could be understood better, your help has been indispensable. If you have noticed your words added to this page, give yourself a big pat on the back.