Duct Tape Dress Form – the DIY Mannequin


I’ve been wanting a dress form for some time now, so I can make clothes sans-pattern or refashion things I already have, but they’re so damn pricey! I’ve also lost a good bit of weight in the last year, and I’m still losing- so I also didn’t want to spend that amount of cash on something that might not be the right size forever.

Enter- the duct tape dress form. I’ve seen variations of these all over. They’re pretty cheap, but a bit time intensive. I apologize for the smattering of blurred photos…trusty husband is not very pro at picture taking.

Things you will need:

An outfit you don’t care very much about

A garbage bag (or poncho you’re not attached to)

Saran wrap

Scissors that can cut tape and you don’t mind getting gunky


A LOT of plastic grocery bags or other filling material (I also used butcher paper and bubble wrap from packages that were shipped to me)

A buddy!

2 kinds of duct tape – one for your base layers, and a fun color or printed duct tape for your final layer. Of course, if you prefer silver, then you’ll just need one kind. I used one large roll of silver [40 yards ought to do it], and two rolls of zebra print [10 yards each for a total of 20 yards]. It’s always better to have more duct tape than have to run back to the store mid project- plus, there are plenty of other uses for duct tape so it doesn’t hurt to have leftovers laying around.

Ok then. Here we go.

First, cut some armholes and a neckhole in your garbage bag and put it on like a poncho. Make sure you’re wearing a good bra! Then, wrap the saran wrap around your hips- essentially extending the bagged area down further. You want your butt to be covered, so if you’re using this to make pants or a skirt, you’ll have enough of your lower half replicated to do the job right. Also saran wrap your arms to about mid-bicep.


Garbage bag poncho.

Bust out your duct tape. You want to make sure that you tape the area under the bust first, then do your V shape over the breasts. Obviously, this is a pretty important area to have shaped correctly.

You’ll notice I’m not saran wrapped yet. Everything I do is trial and mostly error. Also, I’m glad you’re all here to see my favorite bra.



You’re going to start working your way down. Work in horizontal strips of tape- DO NOT attempt to wrap with your tape without breaking it off into pieces. This will turn out wonky. It worked best for me doing strips down the front, then the back. Make sure you shape your shoulder blade area (I assume this is more important for folks who can actually SEE/feel their shoulder blades distinctly…)


Wrap in horizontal strips of tape.

Now you can see the saran wrap I was talking about down over the junk in my trunk. Make sure that the further you work your way down, your legs are slightly apart, about shoulder width. You don’t want your feet completely together, or it might be too tight when you’re actually using this to make something. I’m sure any skirt you make, you hope to do more than stand there with your feet together.


Headless again. Don’t be alarmed.

My sister did a great job taping my boobs. And you can’t really help your buddy, because once you’ve started the arms, you can’t lift them very high. You may also want a little saran wrap around your neck as they work their way up.





Now (after 3 layers, or however many you desire) your taping specialist will have to cut the duct tape form off of you. To do this, they should cut down the back in a zigzag pattern.

I personally learned the hard way that I should not have worn my favorite workout pants for this craft project….


Handy dandy sister cutting me out of this thing. It was getting pretty heavy and restrictive after 3 layers of duct tape.

Holy pants

Oy. Sister definitely cut a big hole in the butt of my favorite gym pants. Luckily I know how to sew and repaired it afterwards.


Free at last.

Why is cutting it in a zigzag so important, you ask? Because, afterwards you’re going to tape it back together, and if you cut it in a straight line it will be far more difficult to match it up properly.

Next, you’ll want some cardboard to cut to the shape of your neck hole.


I used some cardboard from a granola box, so it was a bit more flexible.

Tape up the neck.

Now, it’s stuffing time! I vastly underestimated the amount of materials I would need to stuff this to a point where all the shape would stay put. You should pay special attention to the breast area and the arms.


Hey, it’s all of that mess that was previously in the cupboard under the sink!

Now, originally I wanted to put the dress form on a stand- but due to new living circumstances, my husband and I are now sharing an office- so space for a dress form on a stand is pretty limited.

This project has been about halfway finished for over two months now. But the space dilemma had me stumped, so I let it take up (a lot of) real estate in our room, spewing bags all over the place, before I finally figured it out.

Today, it came to me. I would put it on a hanger. Eureka!


I had to unstuff a lot of this to get the hanger inside. I cut a slit in the cardboard I used for the neck.

I’m still feeling pretty proud of myself for this ingenious idea.Now when it’s not in use, I can hang it in our bedroom closet. I might have to get rid of a few coats first…

After your form is completely stuffed, you’ll need to create a bottom. I taped one edge to the dress form, and then cut the cardboard to size after that (so I’d have something holding it in place).


Cardboard bottom.

I taped the two long sides first, leaving the sides open so I could stuff more grocery bags in as needed. Once it’s standing on the table, you’ll be able to tell if it’s stuffed enough because if it’s not, it will get a little crushed under its own weight in some places at the bottom.

You will do this same process with your armholes- cut a piece of cardboard to fit, then tape over. I left the armholes for last because this gave me a spot to readjust any areas that needed extra filling. After that, you should be finished!

Dress Form

It’s like what I would look like if I was a Greek statue with no head, arms, or legs.

Oh, and you’ll notice I’m rocking another craft- my honeymoon shirt- too. I have an addiction.


Hanging in action.

Hopefully this dress form will be featured again sometime soon when I make myself something to wear. See that shower curtain in the background? Yeah sister destroyed it with hair dye last month, and had to buy me a new one- but I’m planning to upcycle the old one (minus the dyed corner) into something else. I absolutely love this print and think it will make a cute skirt or maybe an infinity dress.


4 responses »

  1. This is so neat! Im going to do this with a friend of mine. It should come in handy when making cosplays x3 thanks for posting!

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