Eglentine takes shape (Part 2)

By the time we finished the initial duct tape wrapping and the shedding of my new shiny skin, I was pretty done in. I stuffed her with a pillow and some brown paper so she wouldn’t collapse, laid her on a mattress, and didn’t come back until the following weekend. I was pondering what to use for the permanent stuffing all week; some people use styrofoam packing peanuts, or polyfill, or even expanding foam. Hoping to recycle materials rather than buy something new, I was pleased to see a mountain of brown packing paper suddenly materialize on my living room floor. (The Hubs is always looking out for me, albeit sometimes in unexpected ways.)

I ripped the paper into manageable lengths and loosely pre-scrunched a large pile of hand sized paper balls. Having these ready to go made the stuffing process go a lot faster. Cutting the bottom of the form off as level as I could, I juggled it upright and traced around the bottom to make a  flat cardboard closure. It ended up being two layers of thick cardboard, plus I ran a couple more strips with crosswise corrugations to reinforce the whole thing. I copiously taped the cardboard bits together, taped the cardboard into the bottom of the form, then alternated stuffing small handfuls of paper with taping up small sections of the back seam.

Adding in the base and cardboard closures. The paper in the picture is about 1/3 of the total paper I used.

I ended up stuffing and re-stuffing the form several times. The measurements came out almost exactly right, but when I stood back and looked at the shape, things just seemed odd. My first attempts came out too cylindrical, so I had to stuff the sides out more to compensate. It helped to stand next to the form and look in the mirror, but this was really just trial and error. As I got to the shoulders, I added cardboard closures for the armholes and taped them shut, but left the neck open in case I need to make any final adjustments.

Hubs volunteered to fabricate a base for the form, and he really did a nice job. It’s a plywood box on casters, painted black and filled with pea gravel for heft. The 2″ PVC pipe screws into a connector on the base, which makes it easy to remove the form, if I should ever need to do that. The only sliiiiight issue is that the screw-on connection introduces some tilt, and that becomes more noticeable as the pole gets longer, so the shoulders of the form aren’t exactly level. We’re still working on that one.

The contemplation phase. “Honey, do I look level to you?”

Important Tips: 

  • Measure a level cutoff line while the form is still on you. This proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated.
  • Pay attention to the shape as you stuff. Eglentine has variously been super barrel-chested, hunchbacked, and sway-backed, so you do have to be careful to not to overstuff particular areas. I’m still working on to get everything to align just right.

Eglentine, my shiny doppelganger (Part 1)


I’ve been making small quilts and doing crafty sewing for a long time, but I’ve just begun trying to sew things that can actually be worn. As in outside the house, in the daylight, without scandalizing others. Since it’s hard to be both the fitter and the fit-ee, I started thinking about getting dress form.

I’m not prepared to drop many hundreds of dollars on a custom foam form just yet, and I was looking at the cheaper adjustable forms when I ran across the idea of a Duct Tape Double. This method leverages the wonders of  duct tape to slowly build up a sturdy body cast, basically molding itself to your body. You have to do several careful layers and then slice the cast up the back so you can ooch out, then re-seal it and stuff firmly.

Husbandly assistance and duct tape obtained, I donned a charming Heavy Duty Lawn and Garden trash bag and we got started. It took 3 solid hours of wrapping to get a thick shell, then we marked the waist and center lines before cutting an escape hatch down the back.


Important Tips  – many of are mentioned in the resource links below, but I can personally attest to these!

  • Put your hair up, including all those little ends, because they will get stuck in the tape and it will hurt when you pull them free.
  • Wear tennis shoes and have a chair close by to hold onto. It is really hard to stand still for 2-3 hours, and once your hips are wrapped you’ll feel at little tippy. I was more worried about feeling claustrophobic or dizzy than I was about standing comfortably, but wow did my legs hurt by the end!
  • Get a second helper if at all possible. Ripping the tape takes at least half the time, so having a designated person to manage the tape strips will make this a lot faster.
  • Start with the rib strapping and then the cross-bust wrap, and make this as firm as you can without squashing your squashy bits.

Resources – give these a thorough read before getting started

Wife and Wife Analog. She’s stuffed with a pillow and temporarily tied shut with a ribbon here.