Adventures in duct tape

A couple of weeks ago, my sister posted on Facebook about making a custom dress form out of duct tape. Being the dutiful sister I am, I immediately offered to wrap her in duct tape. So the plan was hatched and she came over on Saturday night, a little nervous about just how happy I was to do this for/to her. Once I had her in duct tape, I told her I’d been asked to blog about the process and would, of course, have to include pictures. She made me promise to hide her face, so I did. Thanks to the wonderful free photo editing tools available at Picnik, I was able to blur her face like they do on the news. 🙂

Anyway, we used the instructions found here. She wanted the second version, which provides for a bit more, um, definition in the chest area. So, she changed into a t-shirt, we cut the sleeve off another and popped it over her head and into the neckline of the shirt, and I got to taping.

And yes, she brought bright purple duct tape. Now, there is not as much tape on the colored rolls of duct tape. We decided pretty much immediately that if she was to make another one, we’d use the plain old grey duct tape…and that we’d need a lot more.

Here’s the first picture to show the first steps. I did the whole “cross your heart” type of taping, including getting some great support around her ribs.

Here’s the back:

Now, an important lesson was learned here. Duct tape in this fashion works a lot like a corset. She was forced to stand up straight and we both discovered that she doesn’t have good posture (I immediately refused to make myself a dress form because I know my posture stinks). We had to take breaks so she could try to relax muscles that were being forced to be where they should.

We soldiered on, and I started filling in the blanks on the top part of the dress form. Mummifying your sister in duct tape is kinda fun. Making her laugh when she’s being corseted in duct tape, not so much for her. After a bit, she had to sit down. That was also an adventure because we weren’t sure how to let her sit without breaking what I’d already done. Thankfully because we hadn’t covered her abdomen, she could still sit a bit. Plus, since it took her so long to get up, I knew I could snap this picture:

After a break, we started on the rest of it. At this point, I had her spin and I stood still. That worked until she got dizzy and I realized that if she fell down, I was going to have to cut her out of it before I could get her up. Which of course, led to a giggling fit (mine) and pouting (her). But I got the rest of the torso taped up. At that point, she said it was getting a little difficult to breathe (oops, she said to make it tight) and she wanted to sit again. Well, she couldn’t sit on either of my chairs so she flung herself on my bed. Which led to another giggling fit by me. She was not amused. You can’t see it on her face, ’cause I blurred it, but she’s giving me a not so nice look right now:

After we got her back upright, we realized something. We were going to run out of duct tape. See, the instructions call for 3 layers to make it sturdy. We’d done one and were already into our second roll (she only brought two). After leaving her standing there, I went to inquire on the duct tape status in our house. Surprisingly (especially for anyone who knows my family) we did not have any duct tape in the house. We also didn’t have any masking tape. We did have painter’s tape (not sure why, we don’t tape off when we paint, but that’s a different story), but I worried that wouldn’t stick well. Finally I realized I had three big rolls of clear mailing tape. While not ideal, we figured it would work in a pinch.

So, it got really noisy as I used clear mailing tape to make two or three more layers. She became really really shiny at this point. But, it made the form a bit sturdier. I then covered it in the last of the duct tape (which wasn’t even enough to cover the whole thing). Here’s the last pictures of it on her (you can’t tell, but she’s totally not amused at the photo taking, but she couldn’t reach me, so it was all good):

Then came the best part. I got to grab a pair of scissors and cut her out of this thing. Granted, it was a lot harder than I thought it was. I had to try to get my fingers underneath to make sure I didn’t stab her. Layers of tape (both mailing and duct tape) are harder to cut through than you might think. She was getting tired of standing by this point, and I was getting a bit nervous I wouldn’t be able to do it. I was finally able to release her from her duct tape cage, and here’s the form sitting by itself on my chair:

Now, she still has work to do on it. She has to build it a frame, fill it (I think she’s using expanding foam with the help of her husband), and possibly cover it more. If nothing else, we now know what to do differently if we need to again. And I will now share those tips with you:

1. Use a closer fitting and longer t-shirt. When we taped her waist, the shirt bunched up and rose so we couldn’t go as low over her hips as we originally intended to.

2. MORE DUCT TAPE! Seriously. If we do it again, I’m suggesting at least three of the big rolls of the grey duct tape.

3. Get a stool for her to lean against when standing gets to be too much. Now, some of that could be just for us because she has RA, but honestly, letting the person getting wrapped sit is probably nice.

4. Use longer bladed scissors. My little short stubby scissors had a hard time.

5. Duct tape gets hot. Do not do this in the summer (especially down here). Have a fan on the person getting wrapped.

6. Make sure you have a lot of room to work. We had to keep moving to the one spot in my room that has floor space, but it would have been easier to be in a larger space, I think. I kept bumping into my dresser.

While I don’t see a need to make one of these for myself (I don’t do that many garments right now and if I do them for publication they have to be sample size, not my size), I may one day. I could see that if you’re a crocheter, knitter, or seamstress (like my sister is) and want a body double, this would be a good solution. So, grab a friend, grab some duct tape, and get ready for some fun!

And so this post contains something of crochet content, I’m currently finishing the third of four designs due at the end of the month. I’m waiting on yarn to arrive for the fourth one. I can’t wait to show you the designs I’ve been working on. Also, later this week (or next) I’ll be posting about a recently published design.

Oh, and stay tuned! March 2nd I’m going to have Karen Ratto-Whooley here for some Q&A about her new book: I Can’t Believe I’m Crocheting Socks!. This book is awesome (and y’all know how much of a sock addict I am) and I can’t wait to tell you about it.