Homemade Sewing Mannequins


A sewing mannequin can be an expensive purchase, and even if you can afford it there is no guarantee that it will be able to adjust to your measurements. Fortunately, you can make your own mannequin that is custom-shaped to your body. This effective, yet inexpensive alternative is known as a duct tape form. The duct tape form is useful for working on your own projects, as well as projects, such as those for film or theater, where the actors may not always be available for costume fittings.

Things You'll Need

  • Long T-shirt or turtleneck
  • 1 to 2 rolls of duct tape
  • Plastic wrap
  • Black permanent marker
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • poly-fiber batting
  • Have the person being formed put on a T-shirt over their undergarments. The T-shirt must be at least long enough to cover the tops of the thighs. Don't use a T-shirt that you wouldn't want to destroy. The shirt acts as a "base-coat" for the form and it will be cut when it comes time to remove the form from the wearer.

  • Begin by wrapping lengths of duct tape around the bottom of the T-shirt. The strips of tape should be roughly the length required to wrap completely around the wearer's waist once. The tape should be tight, but not so tight that it restricts breathing or blood flow.

  • Continue wrapping strips horizontally around the wearer until you reach the bust area. If the wearer is male, you can continue to wrap horizontally up the full height of the chest and continue on to step 5. Otherwise, proceed to step 4.

  • Using much shorter lengths of tape, begin by starting a criss-cross pattern at the center of the chest and then move outward, covering the bust line with the diagonal pieces.

  • Wrap a small amount of plastic wrap around the neck of the wearer to protect them from any duct tape as the form reaches the collarbone.

  • Wrap the remaining exposed chest, shoulders and back with duct tape in a horizontal manner. If necessary, the sleeves of the T-shirt may be cut to allow a tighter fit under the arms.

  • Begin a second layer of duct tape. This time, lay the strips vertically along the wearer.

  • Repeat the process again, laying the tape in horizontal strips. This will reenforce the strength of the form and minimize any wrinkles or creases that may have occurred in the tape while it was being applied.

  • Once the three layers have been applied, have the wearer bend slightly to the left and then slightly to the right. This will give you a good idea as to the location of the wearer's waist.

  • Mark all the way around the waistline with the permanent marker. This will allow you to return the form to it's original shape once the wearer has been freed from it.

  • Move behind the wearer and carefully begin cutting up the back of the form. It is a good idea to have your free hand in between the wearer's back and the form to reduce the chances of the wearer being poked or cut during the removal process.

  • Once the wearer is free of the form, close the form and line up the ends of the waist line you drew in step 10. Place a layer or two of duct tape over the cut to seal the form.

  • Seal off the arm openings and neck opening with duct tape. You are now ready to begin stuffing the form.

  • Pack the poly-fiber batting into the form until it is firm. Don't use so much that it significantly distorts the shape of the form.Tape over the bottom to finish off the form.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you wish to have your form on a stand, you can use an existing stand, or make your own using anything from a cardboard tube and Christmas tree stand to a simple cross base stand built using 2 by 4s.
  • You can also choose to insert a heavy-duty wooden coat hanger into the neck area before stuffing the form and suspend it from an existing clothing or coat rod.

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  • Photo Credit fittings to sewing image by Victor M. from Fotolia.com
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