There are already several websites that will tell you how to make a duct tape double dress maker's dummy, so I won't get into all that here. However, I did want to pass along a few tips I learned about the hard way while making mine.
- Use a heavy duty duct tape. I used Duck brand tape, which has a noticeably less sticky adhesive on it. That would probably work OK for the first layer. My problem was that I had used it to tape up the side seam after I had fit it over my old dressmaker's dummy. I stuffed it, then didn't look at it again for a few days. When I did see it again, the taped up side had burst open. I re-taped it with Gorilla brand, which seems to be holding up much better.
- Try the method that applies the strips in 6 inch lengths. I had to make my double mostly without help, so I used longer strips to get my back done. It's definitely harder to get smooth coverage that way. I ended up with issues with the double creeping up because I was pulling the long strips too tight.
- Apply the strips in various directions. Again, this will help keep it from creeping. Part of my problem was that I was applying the strips mostly horizontally. Some instructions do tell you to do that. I think there would have been more control if the strips had followed the contours of my body more naturally.
- It's ideal if you can get an old dress maker's dummy in a smaller size and use that for your base. Of course you can make the dummy without one, but may be worth the cost in time and aggravation to pick up a used one at a thrift store.
- When you tape the dummy back together after you've gotten out of it, place the tape horizontally so it will hold better.
- If you want to use the dummy for historical costuming, stuff it with batting instead of using the spray foam insulation method. This will allow you to use corsets on it to maintain a period correct shape.
- As you are stuffing the dummy, be sure to keep comparing it to your own body, especially if you aren't using an old dummy as a base. If you do not have some form underneath to maintain the oval shape, the shell will tend to become rounded (if you look at it from a cross section), while most people's bodies are more oval. Even with a form, you have to be careful to pad it in the right places.
- Once the dummy is stuffed and mounted, make a form fitting cover for it from stretch knit fabric. That will give it an extra layer that will be easier to pin into if the need arises and will look nicer, too.
copyright Nellie Kampmann, 2014