Friday, February 1, 2013

My Twin, the Dress Form – Part 1 & 2

Even though it’s just at the halfway mark I thought I’d share some of this adventure. The dress form I’m making is based on this one from the Burda Style site, by tyui2 in Kuopio, Finland. For the paper tape form, part 1, I took a lot of tips from a post by Johanna at Making It Well.

Warning: Lots of pictures

Here’s a brief summary: First, a paper tape form is created. When this is dry and hard, it is used as the mould for the final paper tape (or Mache) dress form. The original paper tape form can be saved as a backup. In order to use the paper tape form as a mould it is cut apart in two sections along the sides, making it easier to create the inner mould.

Part 1: Being wrapped

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Here I am with 2 layers, which took close to 1.5 hours. I’m wearing the hat because my hair isn’t long enough for a ponytail, AND because I was freeeeeeeezing. Yeah, it was one of the coldest days in January and I’m wearing short sleeves and shorts (they’re actually a bodyshaper), and I’m having wet paper tape stuck to me and it’s seeping through the t-shirt. Not very nice. This is also when my husband had to take off and pick up the kids after school, but luckily he got the portable heater from my sewing room before leaving. An hour later he started the 3rd layer, which took almost another hour. (That’s 4.5 hours! My back and shoulders were *ACHING*.)

The finished form (part 1) looks like this:

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Here it is cut in half ready for part 2.

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And the inside (with gratuitous shot of the young lad - Henry!)

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I had to snip the t-shirt in a few places (the bust) where it was over-stretched and had come away from the paper tape.

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Part 2: Creating the twin. The inside is lined with plastic food wrap (the original method uses aluminum foil) to protect it from becoming wet and disintegrating.

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Next I lined the inside with a Needlepunch polyester batting, which is quite thick, about 5mm. In the pic below it looks like 2 layers of batting, but that’s where the two layers were coming apart. I had to cut and insert small pieces in a few places, mainly on the front at the bust. This batting has some give, you can pull it and form it a bit, but it would become thinner.

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I extended the neck with the batting, as we didn’t go high enough with the paper tape.

Now for the inside. More paper tape, the pic below was taken after the 2nd layer on both halves. It’s the end of day two and this was much faster than the first.

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This dried pretty hard with a few hours in front of the portable heater, then overnight. Day 3 was just the third layer, and left it overnight again.

Today I did some other stuff because to be honest, I needed a break from this. Standing for hours on end is tough! So, after the kids got home I started to get the twin prepared to be put back together. I had to trim around the edges where the paper tape had gone past the batting, to make sure it matched the original form’s edges. A bit fiddly to cut as there are probably 8 layers of paper tape in some places, and it’s as hard as cardboard.

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Those alligator clips sure came in handy, especially during the initial drying phase.

And here it is right now, the two halves waiting to be joined.

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Tomorrow I’ll tape them together inside, measure her and make adjustments as needed. I’ve already got some black stretch fleece from stash to cover her, fiber fill to stuff her, but no stand as yet. She should be finished next week, and I can’t wait to see her!!!

Next post is about a snuggly cowl neck scarf that I made way back in December after seeing Debbie’s lovely version! I’m a bit late writing about it, but it’s still cold as hell to wear it.


  1. Wow, that looks awesome. I'm always felt a bit... suspicious with how easy making your own form looks in a lot of the directions. Like you know things will go wrong somewhere along the way. It's good to see the work in progress.

    1. Thanks! And you're right, this is not easy. I've been pushing myself to get this done, as I can feel the level of steam is dropping!

      Right now I'm trying to figure out how to cover it, and with what! But that's another post.

  2. I tried making a duct tape form about 6 years ago and it was lumpy and pathetic (I donated it to a sculptor friend who used it in several art pieces).

    I really like the technique of a second mold, with the batting! I like it so much that I'm trying to think of which friend I can manipulate into doing this with me. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Thanks! From all the duct tape and paper tape forms I've seen in the last month on google images, the initial taping is the key to the whole operation. It's time consuming, and it helps to be methodical. You also need someone who isn't shy!

  3. Cooooool. Thanks for the look at the process. Although 4.5 hours of taping does not sound fun. I'm excited to see how it turns out.