Mini Me: My Duct Tape Dummy

I’m trying to post more regularly here! But it’s hard maintaining two blogs! In case you’ve found this by accident, I also have Motherhoot. My goal is to post here on Wednesdays for the near future. I’ll run a Wordless Wednesday post on Motherhoot and post here about crafting.

My BFF Kelly helped me make myself a duct tape dummy. Why, you ask, would I need a duct tape dummy? Because I am tired of knitting sweaters that don’t fit correctly. Supposedly, this will help me create garments that actually fit me. I heard about this years ago, but I’m taking a class at Craftsy that walked you through the process. Still it took several months to get it done.

Of course, we chose the hottest day of 2012 so far to do this. My advice: have lots of water handy and a fan. Because being wrapped in duct tape is like a sauna!

Here are the things you need:

  • duct tape (it took almost 2 rolls for Mini Me; taping the holes closed took a lot more tape than I thought it would)
  • contrasting/decorative duct tape to mark your waist line and any other points you want to reference
  • old t-shirt
  • willing, close friend
  • good scissors to cut through a t-shirt and several layers of duct tape
  • stuffing (I used a 5 pound box and a large bag)

Here’s how you do it:

Part 1: You Need A Friend

1. Put on the old t-shirt. Wear a good bra under it like you would under a knitted garment. I chose a long-sleeved t-shirt because I could tie off the sleeves when I was done.

2. Have your taper get started. Kelly did the first layer with shorter strips that she molded around my bumps and curves. Then she did a second layer taping vertically with longer pieces of tape. The third layer was done horizontally with longer layers of tape. By longer I mean nothing more than 10-12″ long.

3. When the base layer was done, she added the contrasting tape (see my zebra belt!) to my waist line.

4. Cut the duct tape suit off, being careful to avoid skin and the bra strap. I cannot emphasize enough that you need strong scissors for this. The ones we had (I had to rummage through drawers and closets to find a single scissors in my house!) were pretty crappy and I thought I was going to be stuck forever!

5. Let the duct tape suit air out and dry if you manage to sweat like I did. I don’t normally sweat but I did that day!

Part 2: You’re On Your Own

1. Carefully tape up the seam of your duct tape suit. It’s not hard because you can match the tape lines of the suit and the contrasting tape lines. Remember, the suit is flexible, so you can mangle it around in this stage to get it taped back up. I made sure that my zebra waist marking was complete around the suit.

2. Tie up the arms or tape the arm holes shut.

3. Tape the neck carefully, trying to maintain the shape.

4. Start stuffing from the bottom. I had a hard time getting enough stuffing into my boobs!

5. Carefully begin taping up the bottom. I bought a piece of foam core to use as a base, but didn’t need it. I think I lost some of the correct shaping, but the measurements are close to ones taken a few weeks ago.

6. When you have most of the bottom taped closed, add more stuffing. Add and add and add until you get a stable piece. Honestly, I think I could have stuffed all day because the stuffing really compacts when you shove it in there. I read somewhere that you could use the spray expandable foam insulation to fill it. That might have worked better.

7. Tape completely shut. Stand back and admire your work.

Tips & Techniques

  • Be prepared for your taper to get intimately close to The Girls. You need this to get an accurate casting!
  • I cannot stress enough how hot and uncomfortable this got. I couldn’t even sit toward the end because the tape was down to my hip line. My legs wouldn’t bend!
  • Repeatedly tearing duct tape from the roll wreaks havoc on the hands. Kelly actually lost skin when the tape got stuck.
  • By the end, I thought the duct tape had a weird smell. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation!

I can’t wait to use this for a garment. I’m in the middle of knitting a mystery shrug! Hopefully it will look great on Mini Me!

If you’ve done this or even thought about it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!