added May 2007

Hello! I have sewn for many years, often times improvising and making-do
with many things. AND loving the creatvity of it.
Years ago I made a dress form by first putting on a long sleeved, turtle
necked body suit(the kind thatsnapped at the crotch- told you it was a long
time ago!) It worked great. I used many rolls of masking tape. I realize
duct tape would be better-it just never occured to me. Anyhow. my husband
helped me make a good looking stand for it, and I actually paper mache'd it
with pieces of torn brown wrapping paper. It still looks good. And I thought
I was so original! Then I got one of Elizabeth
Stewart Clark's books and learned about you. Good work! Now if onlyu you
could come up with a way to make  a self-made dress form that is soft and
could be pinned into??
Surely enjoyed your website.    Also - doing the small pieces of paper
mache' over old styrofoam wig heads make beautiful displays for hats.


added April 2006

Good Morning, I have found some great hints on this site to help me make my tape double.
The finished product was scary but accurate.
I used the help of my sewing illiterate husband and it still worked perfectly. I used paper tape which had glue on one side. Like the old fashioned postage stamps. It came in rolls of two sizes and I found it at an arts and crafts store. It is primarily used to seal  the back of paintings and prints.I used two sizes 1" and 2".
I also used my normal bra, plus a close fitting undergarment which moulded to my shape. Something like you would wear under clothing in winter, or to do aerobics. I made sure that the shoulder seam was correct for me, as it had to be used as a guide for the tape so that my arm cythe would be perfect. The neck was low, so I filled it in by cutting out the neck of an old tee shirt and gluing it together. I stood in my normal stance with arms held at my sides.A piece of tape was placed at my upper bust level which minimised arm movement. The tape was placed around the arm scyth in small pieces of perhaps 1 1/2 inches until it met with the piece around my upper bust. These peices were carefuly placed exactly on the arm seamline from the short side of tape on seamline and lenght toward bust.We then placed another layer on top of that, though off-set. Like bricks are laid.( After removing the model, I adjusted the underarm curve.)
With a wet sponge to wipe the tape over we were ready. (Sticky side)
We tested the breaking point of the tape so as so make it a firm fit at the waist, to cross your heart at the bust and following the curve of the bra. (underneath) .
At times we felt is necessary to wet some areas by "patting" the sponge on it. (not wiping) Especially the bust, as it took time.
After the shock of seeing "me", I measured it and it was so close as to be called perfect. I do not need to stuff it, but I will. I also intend to add to the layers from the inside through the neck and bottom  for extra strength. (though it doesn't really need it.) I cannot stick pins into it, but a cover should fix that.I marked the shoulder point on the model plus waist and points at bust. I shall paint a thin coating of wallpaper glue over the entire outer of the form to fix the paper so that none will lift with continual usage.
Well, thanks to everyone  who contributed to these pages as I found a lot of great ideas and you prevented me from making a lot of mistakes. I also thank Barbara Deckert for the idea of using the paper.
My next problem is the stand!
Regards Shirley


added June 1999

I made a very good dress form for about $20 from a 3 foot long chunk of 12" foam and a close-fitting shell made from heavy cotton muslin. It took me about half a day. The form is easy to adjust to changes in size and shape, and I didn't have to cut it off me.

I pinned and fit the shell until it fit me exactly. I put a stand-up collar on it so the form would have a neck, but that's probably not necessary. I put a long, strong zipper up the back, so it's easy to take off and sew a little dart (or let one out) and put the shell back on to check.

You want the shell to fit as tightly as possible over your usual underwear, if you wear underwear.

When it fits tightly without squashing you anywhere, take it off and get it soaking wet. It's important for it to be evenly wet, so soak it well. Roll it up in a thick towel and wring or tread on it to get as much of the water out as possible. Put it back on and make sure the zipper lines up right along your spine. Be miserable for about a half hour until it dries. Blowing on it with a hand-held hair dryer helps.

Take it off and hem the edges.

Now cut the foam block. It does not need to be cut smoothly, nor do measurements need to be exact. The shell will take care of that. The easiest thing to cut it with is a fine serrated kitchen knife or an electric carving knife.

Cut the foam block the width of the widest part of your body plus about 2 inches. If you're going to put a neck on the form, cut the block the length of your body from the base of your neck where the seamline of a collar will sit to the tops of your thighs plus about 2 inches. If you don't want a neck on it, just cut to the base of your neck.

Make a line with a marker down the center of the foam block to line the zipper up with.

If you're putting a neck on the form, measure the width of the collar on the shell and cut downward into the block 1/2 that width plus about 1 inch on each side of the center line you drew on the foam block. Then cut outward to the sides of the block for your shoulders.

Put the foam in the shell and zip up the shell (this is the hardest part). Line up the zipper with the line you drew on the foam block. Check for spots where the shell isn't filled up completely, and fiddle around with the foam until you get it smooth.

It's you!

I am a fairly standard size 10, and I just press and tug to get the foam compressed in the right places, but I expect that a heavy-busted woman would need to trim the foam around the waist to get the right shape. Heavy people might need to glue blocks of foam together, which is easy to do.


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added September 20, 2000

My experience was many years ago as a young teenager when I first started out to make clothes for myself. I bought a kit with very limited instructions but my girl friend and I made a model of me. It was quite cold weather so I stood in front of the fire but unfortunately I am ticklish and with the wrapping I kept giggling. Finally the model was finish and my friend had to cut it off my and ended up cutting my bra in half. Lo and behold when put back together due to my giggling the model was far too big for me. I should have kept it for use when I put on weight but I was so embarrassed. I wish now that I was a little slimmer and I would make another........I have grown up now and do not giggle so much. haha

Bye for now Margaret Western Australia

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added February 10, 2000

I am 75 yrs. old and remember that once about 55 yrs. ago they used to sell kits for inexpensive complete dress forms made of brown paper tape. The secret of getting it to fit around the bust, etc. was cutting the pieces short enough to work with more easily. Strength was gained by two to three layers of the tape. The tape was put on over tubular knitted, cotton fabric. I made one with the kit on my mother and it worked well until she became nauseated and the form had to be cut quickly down the back and taken off. Later, we both went to the Singer shop and had personal forms made for our selves. I remember that they were expensive, but well finished and were made by heating some sheets of copper colored material (HOT!) and then smoothing onto the body with their hands after dipping them in what looked to be soapy water. From that point on took about three weeks longer for the experts to finish them with stands, etc.

The instructions which came with the kit showed exactly how the tape was to be wrapped on each section of the body. After the tape-form was finished and had been cut off, the form was covered again by tubular knit which was anchored with some strong, narrow cotton tape which was attached down the center front & back and other strategic places. Aren't there any of those kits to be had anymore?

Hope there are one or two ideas which may help make better and easier forms, in my ramblings on above.

I have to comment:

Yes, I have seen both these, but I don't think they are better or easier. In the Threads article about me there was also a lady that does the paper tape method. I've seen her at shows do this form and it takes her longer to do one than it does for me to do my method. I also don't like the hard type form you end up with.

There are many ways to make forms and some are better than others. You have to pick the one that fits your way of thinking. For me, duct tape is the best because you end up with a very accurate model of all the uniqueness of your body and it is a plushy type of form that acts much like human skin when you are using it to make fittings.

Until the day when we can step into a chamber of a computerized form making machine, be measured by laser beams and while walking out a perfect computer generated android-type form will immediately emerge from the other side of the machine, I'm sticking with my Duct Tape.

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added February 10, 2000

Here's how easy this dress form is: my daughters, 5 and 7 years old, did the taping. One cut, the other taped - they took turns and only took 1 hour! We used lightweight package tape over a plastic bag, and put on two layers. My husband marked center front, sides, and center back. Then he cut the bag and tape off, center back.

I had started the project to make a sloper blouse and skirt, so I cut along the waist line, and cut along imaginary dart lines to make a flat pattern of my body. At this point I remembered an article about a cardboard dress form, and got out my moving boxes.

I cut out a cardboard copy of the tape body and taped myself back together, with back seam open.

To reconstruct the bust and waist and hip areas, I used flat, light gauge electrical wire. Pressing around and molding it to my contours (to preserve what I have!) I got perfect cross-sections of the 3 areas. I traced and cut these out of cardboard also, and taped the appropriate points to the disks from inside the form. (Bust points to BP, side seams, center fronts and backs)

No stuffing, and perfect bust and waist. All together it did take about 6 hours - but I have a form with a size 8 bust and size 14 hips, which I would never have found anywhere else for the $21 I spent. ($3 for tape, and $6 for the boxes, $12 for used dress form stand)

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added Feb. 7, 1999

I wrote the Body Double article in the January '99 issue of Sewing World  magazine. If anyone would like a copy of this article, or explicit instructions, or help with making a body double of yourself please contact me at If you live in or near Brampton, Ontario, we have enough gals desperate to make up a class before Spring. No cost - just bring your own supplies and lets get together! Jean Dodds

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added Feb. 4, 1998

After reading the "Threads" article, I took a look at your wonderful Website.  I made my double following the brown paper tape method in the
article.  Took about the same amount of time, two hours or so.  My wife, who does NOT sew, did the taping...a bit loosely.  Oh, well, I figure
I'd rather my clothes be comfortable anyway!  It really does look frighteningly like me -- I kept asking Patricia "does my stomach really
stick out that much?" (yes) "don't the boobs look bigger than mine really are?"  (no) One advantage of the paper tape is that it dries up
firm enough that it does not need to be stuffed!  So my only expenditure was one roll of paper tape (around $4-5 at Office Depot), and a six-foot
dowel ($3) I set in an old Xmas tree stand to hold it up.  One disadvantage, compared to the duct tape, is that it is somewhat lumpy
and bumpy -- it's harder to smooth the paper down over curves.  It is also messy as you have to wet the tape.  But already one week later I
don't know how I ever lived without it!

Eris Weaver
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        Some years ago I made a dress form of myself using very similar methods to those you have given, save a few significant differences. Mine was made with essentially the same wrapping techniques you described, but with plaster bandages such as would be used for making casts for broken bones.  This made for a significantly messier project than yours, but the benefits are many; the tape, when it is wet is extremely malleable
and conforms very accurately to the body contours (it was easy to tell which bra I was wearing).  The plaster tape was applied over a simple
dry cleaners bag- thick enough to protect the skin, but not enough to add any bulk.  It is best to work with two tapers, and the taping
process should only take about 15 minutes.  The shell is removed from the body by cutting with scissors. The back seam can be restored with more plaster tape. The neck and armholes are evened out with scissors and taped over with plaster tape.  Coat the inside of the entire shell with a thick layer of petroleum jelly and then fill the shell with the aerosol polyurethane, as one of your other readers mentioned. The plaster
can then be removed and a good wash with soap and water will remove the jelly from the cast.  Cover the completed form with a ribbing or
spandex cover for visual appeal and pin on thin twill tape at important locations: bust, waist, side seam, hip, center back and front and shoulder
princess line. This method is really worth the extra time and mess. It gives a dress form which is extremely accurate (more so than you may
want to know), easy to work with and durable.  The polyurethane foam holds pins very well for draping and fitting.  In addition, as you expand
you can simply add batting or thin foam underneath the ribbing cover to simulate the new bulges.  I've been working with mine for about six
years now and it's in better shape than I am!

Yours sincerely,


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 After you read all this  you might think it's too involved.  It really  didn't take all too long (a week, maybe, working on it a bit everyday),  and besides, a custom made dress form runs several hundred dollars and  as much as $500, and I only spent a bit over $60. I have listed first my own tips/experiences, followed by the original  e-mail I received from "Pat" whose identity remains a mystery as I accidentally deleted her e-mail (oops!).

 1.  I had DH wrap my torso with Saran Wrap instead of using a plastic  bag.  Worked fine and was very easy. The breast area "smooshed" rather easily--make sure your bra is on correctly and your shape is not flattened as  you are wrapped.

 2.  I am a larger size (45" bust, 39" waist, 46" hip) and I used all twelve of the packages of the 2 1/2 inch wide plaster casting wrap in the case. (I paid about $14.00 for the case at the local home health supply store.) I did not need blow-dryers as it dried sufficiently in about 10 minutes  to cut it off. I used duck tape to reassemble the two halves, and used  poster board to seal the arm  and leg holes. This worked well. I did not let my cast sit, I started filling it within three hours.

 3.  I only sprayed the inside of the mold with Pam Cooking Spray,  instead of smearing Vaseline in the inside. The Vaseline may be easier,  but remember to put it on before taping the halves together.  The wraps came off pretty easily after I soaked the filled (and dried) form in the tub.

 4. I used about 10 cans of foam.  The kids kept bumping the mold, and the foam would "sink".  Also, I sealed the bottom and arms and filled  it from the neck opening. I think I would start at the opposite end  next time because the lack of ventilation kept the foam from curing inside. Also, it would help to spray in only a can or less at a time, and then let that dry before adding more.  On a couple of times I put too much foam in and the weight caused additional sinking.  The cans were $4.00 a piece at Walmart.

 5. Somehow, the form "grew" a couple of inches in the chest and waist measurements.  I think the happened as I would move around as I was wrapped. (The kids were laughing hysterically throughout the process.) I simply used my electric kitchen knife to shave off the excess.

 6.  I sanded the form, filled in any larger gaps with additional foam,  which I leveled off after drying.  I didn't use any spackle for fear it would chip/crack when pinned. I draped the form with gingham and made a darted cover out of muslin with a 22" zipper in the back to remove it.
 I sewed center front and back lines on the cover, and stay stitched around armseye and neck.

 7.  I mounted the form on a 3/4 inch piece of plywood, then sent two metal round tent stakes up through the bottom for support (drilled  holes in wood and hammered the stakes the rest of the way...easily)  I  put the form up on the base of a bar stool.  Perfect height and spins  around! I also put on casters so I can wheel her around. I am  very pleased with my new form, which we have named "Venus".  She sits beside my antique form the kids named "Sally Stitch."

 Another additional tip:  I took a sample "squirt" of dried foam and steamed and pressed it unmercifully without almost no ill effects except for minimal flattening--which would be impossible to do to an  upright dress form without knocking it over.

 On to another sewing adventure,

 Please keep in mind that this is not something that you can do by yourself.  If you have a friend/friends willing to help it is a lot easier.  It also takes a while to complete the form.

You'll need plastic dry-cleaner bags, plastic cast wrap, hairdryers, newspaper, insulation foam mix, and water. You'll be doing the casting in your undergarments, so wear whatever you normally wear when dressed. You should cover the floor where you do this as it tends to get very messy.

 1.    Cut holes in plastic cleaner bag for head and arms.  If you have long hair- cover with shower cap or another bag.

 2.    Wet plaster cast wrap in water (keep a basin of water nearby) and wrap around upper torso.  We started at the neck, about an inch or two above collarbone and worked down to mid thigh. Don't tape arms to body.  Just go a little past point on shoulder  Make sure all areas are covered, wrapping snugly, but not tightly.  Now let it dry. This is where you use hair dryers.  It takes about 20+ minutes or so. When cast feels firm, cut up front and back and slide it off the person.  If it sticks too much, dry a little longer.

 3.     Once mold is off sew back together front and back.  Cover with additional strips of plaster wrap.  If you dent your mold you can reshape by pushing lightly on the inside.  Stuff light with newspaper, stand upright and let dry a day or two.  Next remove newspaper, tape neck and one shoulder opening closed with cast material. Let this dry and then coat inside of mold heavily with Vaseline. Tape other shoulder opening closed.  Let dry.  We let our molds dry for about 2 weeks because of a school recess.  If your mold feels firm and dry go on to next step.

 4.    Mix insulation compound.  Fill your plaster mold about 1/2 to 5/8 full as this does foam right up.  Keep the form straight up for about 15 minutes or until it is slightly set.  Let harden completely. This takes a few days.  When set start removing your cast.  This is the worst part.  I had an awful time getting all the plaster off.  Finally ended up scrubbing it off in the tub. If you have any holes fill in with additional insulation compound
or spackle.  I used spackle and it worked out fine..

 5.    Sand the finished form lightly; just enough to get the bumps and blops off.

 6.    Cut a small amount off the bottom of your form to make level. Trace bottom of form        onto a piece of wood about 3/4 in. thick. Cut out wood and glue to bottom of form.*

 7.    Cover your form and wood with a knit material.  We marked our center front, back, side seams. bust, etc. on this form with black twill tape.
 *     One of the women's husbands made us stands for our dummies.  He  used pipe to assemble and put a screw on the underside of our board so we could take them apart to take back and forth to class. This seems like a lot of work but when you are done you'll have an exact replica of you,  I've had mine for a few years now and use it frequently.  It comes in handy.

 Have fun,

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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.

Would you like to share your tale? Click on the comment link below.