Other Methods


I have a friend who is terminally ill with an acute leukemia. She has a catheter inserted in her chest for the administration of blood transfusions and chemotherapy. She enjoys sewing and dress making. Would making a dress form using the techniques you outline be considered a safe activity for her?


I'm not a Doctor but I do think this is a bad idea. The wrapping process takes 2 to 4 hours. It's sometimes hard for people who have no physical problems. With all that tape around you it gets hot and constraining. Some people have written to me that they had problems breathing.

I think it would be better for her to look into things like the Uniquely You form.

To help clear up some of the confusion about where and why your form was done this might help:

The French Couture makers have been making "Paper copies" of women for more than 200 years. They did it so they were able to have Madame for a personal fitting when Madame was not available. They were usually made from Madame who had been wrapped in muslin tapes, then wrapped in paper mache to which they let dry. Then Madame's shape was cut off of her (with a razor) from neck to each ankle and to each wrist. Then with more paper mache Madame's form was covered again over the seams.

Then after it dried the form was stuffed with loose cotton and hung with a hook from a wire stand and the holes were also paper mache. Then the whole thing was lacquered with several coats of shellac and left to dry till hard. So Madame need only order the latest fashions and then appear for a fitting when the dresses were in the final fitting stages.

My mother explained this to me when she made such a form for my older sister (using paper tape and a tee shirt) when I was a youngster many years ago. I then was able to see an original one that was owned by a woman who was in her late 80's and had gone to Paris to have one made for herself.

Today a few the remaining Couture houses have muslin copies of their exclusive and long time customers so that they need only call up and order as needed.

This should help you with some of the history. And just to let you know yes I have done the paper mache mannequin myself because with a 37" sleeve I needed an assistant that didn't complain.

Sincerely, Jon

Much thanks for the great information, Jon!!!

Does your "Instructional Manual" (price $25.00) work the same for the paper tape double? Does it tell me how much paper tape to buy and do I proceed just like the instructions for the duct tape double? Do you not recommend the paper tape? I don't know much about it, but I'm wanting to do the paper tape unless you tell me otherwise.

No, they aren't the same thing. You don't stuff in the paper tape method.
Here's a link for instructions.

Dear: Leanna,
Hi, my name is Katherine, and I was wondering how do you make dress forms out of paper mache`? Because I really like the look of colorful paper mache`,. So if you know then please e-mail me back with the instructions on how to make one. Thank You. Bye.

My instructions use Duct Tape. I don't know of any that use paper mache. The closest I know of is the paper tape method. Check out the link on the question above this one.

Dear Leanna,

Your website is terrific. I noticed that one of your DTD respondents has done the form in the full body form. Are the instructions on the full-body wrap that one gets from the order form included for the full body form? I am hoping to use this method in a fitting class that I teach at the community college class level and want to work out all the details before my class meets in the fall. I hope to work on it very soon and will be placing my order as soon as I hear from you. Thank you for your time and assistance.


How neat to hear from a namesake. My first name is Jeanine, I have been using my middle name for a long time now. How interesting to have someone like you write!

OK, to answer your question I am sending you the last picture in the file that shows the results you get by following the instructions I wrote. Many nice folks have written to me about how they have taken my instructions and made little changes to get a different form to fit their needs. These I have put on the site so everyone can see that you don't have to follow mine to the letter and to inspire you to be creative.

I have not had need to do a full body form in my business. The torso has been sufficient for all I've needed to do so far.

I have also added a link to Moonshadow's page that has a set of instructions to make a whole body form. It has 22 pictures plus written instruction. Printed out it's 4 pages. My instructions have 94 pictures and it is 39 pages printed out. It has a lot more detail, but you can really use either to make a nice form.

I purchased a booklet Make Your Own Body Form by Joyce Perhac. It's a 10 page booklet, must be self published. I got it from Pure Whimsy Gifts & Collectibles, The price was $12.00. And it was overpriced for what it was. I vaguely remember Sew News Magazine having a short piece about this method several years ago. Your instructions are essentially the same as the booklet. In fact, you give more info on finishing & stuffing.

There are many ways to make custom dress forms. Some have been described in the section above. The Duct Tape Method has been around for a long time and I'm sure there are many other sources of information to be found about how to do it. Since I put up this page I have found that this is a preferred method for those who are into costuming, either historical or fantasy. I might even go as far to say it has become a kind of folk art.

I've also seen this method used to create a custom fitted pattern by wrapping with the tape only once, marking the seam lines, and cutting it off on the markings.

I do not want to give the impression that my way is the only way. My instructions simply describe the way I prefer to make this type of form. It has worked well for me and I hope you'll find it useful also.

I was especially intrigued by the idea of wrapping the figure just once to create a custom fitted pattern.  Have you tried it for any of your customers?  Do you have any advice for me before I plunge in?  I would love to hear from someone who has tried it.

Actually, this is what I learned to do first. You wrap more loosely for patterning than for the dress form. And you wrap only one layer, mark seemlines, darts, and plump line for grain, then cut off. Cut all seam lines and lay flat to use as a sloper. You do need to add your design ease for your garment, but it works quite well.

I've done this with some great results for men too. I love your additions of the sleeve for the neck opening. I'm not sure about the double layer for the bust area... Do you have any additional suggestions for doing this for men?? It has worked great for me as I mostly make medieval/renaissance costuming and there are few patterns let alone historically accurate ones.

Visit Moonshadow's page at:

I haven't personally done one for a male figure yet. No volunteers. I don't have any real different suggestions, only that I would guess it would be much easier without so many curves. Male bodies, as a rule are more straight with gradual curves. Unless you're a muscle builder.

There are historical patterns out there, but they are a royal pain to make up. Just do what works for you. Did you see my Henry VIII?

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I am the step-mother of a 16 year old and she wants to make a duct tape prom dress.(for the scholarship money) For the last 10 years, I have always tried to help her with whatever project she needs help with. With a duct tape dress, I don't have a clue.

Can you help me at all. Thanks, Doris

The only words of wisdom I have is, "Duct Tape can't be sewn on." What ever you do, you can not use a sewing machine directly on the Duct Tape. You can make a dress and then cover it with Duct Tape, or use the tape to connect pieces together, but if you try to sew the tape you will ruin your machine.

I was wondering if you could answer my question about Duct Tape. It was homecoming week at our school and one of the dress up days was Trash Bag and Duct Tape day. SO my creativity went to order. I made a fabulous skirt and shirt out of trash bags and well you guessed it duct tape. I also thought it would be trendy to put duct tape on the end of my brand new white leather shoes, around the soul is rubber. I was thinking it would stick so I took it off a few minutes later and it didn't stick so I was all OK cool. SO I did it again at the end of the day it was stuck. What is the remedy to get the rest of the nasty sticky things off of my white shoes? Please please please tell me what to do.

Thanks so much,

Try spraying the residue down with WD-40 or Duck® brand Adhesive Remover (it has a really nice citrus scent) and let it sit for a bit. The residue should whip right up. You can also roll duct tape sticky-side-out around your hand and dab up bits of remaining residue.

If the goo is only on the rubber part of the shoe, it should come off with a little work, but if it's on the leather, you might end up with some of the leather damaged.

Good morning. Love your website! I came across an old Acme Stretchable dress form in a yard sale and would like to know if your could help me to understand how to accurately shape it to fit me. I've played with it and each time I think I have one measurement right I find I have thrown off another. Any suggestions? Thank you,Karen

I can't say that I have ever seen an Acme Stretchable dress form. Is it like the kind of old time forms that were made out of wire that you put on your body and shapes it to your figure? These were hard to manage and didn't recreate the figure very well because when taken off the body they were always bigger than you. I think that's why they stopped making them.

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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.