Creating a Duct Tape Dummy
A duct tape dummy (DTD) is required for commissions that include a bodysuit. It lets you create a double of your body that we will be able to work off of to ensure your bodysuit has the perfect fit. This is a tutorial for making a properly fitted and sturdy DTD. I'll be referring to duct tape dummies as "DTD" for the rest of this page. Making a DTD takes about 1.5-2hrs. It's important to make a sturdy DTD so it doesn't start falling apart and losing it's form when a maker is working with it. This happens more than you'd think! Follow this tutorial to make a sturdy DTD that will last and hold up during the bodysuit making process.
4-6 rolls of duct tape (Pick 2 colors)
A place to rest your hands (broom, ledge, tall chair)
A friend or two
Make sure the person getting taped up has gone to the bathroom because this is potentially a 2+ hour experience where they won't be able to do so. The person getting taped up should wear undergarments they don't mind potentially getting ruined by scissors and get into their painters suit. Long hair should be pulled back away from the neck so it doesn't get taped. Playing a movie for the person being taped up helps pass the time because this can be a rather uncomfortable process.
Start at the crotch to make sure the painters suit is pulled up all the way and not sagging. I like to choose silver for the first layer. Imagine making "duct tape underwear" on top of the painter suit. Use pieces 4-12" long, smaller pieces tend to be better in general for this process. You don't want the tape to be overly long.
Have the person stand with feet shoulders width apart and work your way down the legs. This way the person getting taped up can relax their arms and potentially help cut tape. It's important to criss cross the duct tape in random directions. Do not line up the tape parallel to itself/"mummy style" as this often causes the DTD to fall apart later. Make sure you aren't taping too tight that you loose blood circulation or too loose. A painters suit will be baggy so keep this in mind when taping, you'll need to fold in the loose fabric to have a snug fit.
Tape under the heel of the foot. This painters suit had attached feet so we opened the toes of them up for more breathability. You may also need to open them up if are taller or have longer legs so your painters suit has enough length. Some painters suits may not be long enough so you can use paper towels to extend the coverage of the suit and tape over those.
Note: Some makers prefer to have the full foot done.
Now that the legs are done it's time to go from waist up. Leave the zipper in the front free of duct tape. I like to put a line of tape along each side of the zipper to give it some support before taping around to the back.
Make sure the taping goes all the way up to the base of the neck as well as all the way up to the armpits
Next it's time for the arms. The person will need to be in a "T" pose from here on. They will need to have something to hold onto to support their arms. This could be a counter, a broom, a hiking staff, a tall chair, just anything that's the right height.
A lot of times the arms of a painters suit won't be long enough once the armpits are pulled in. All you need to do is wrap some paper towels around in the exposed area and continue taping! It's important to go all the way to your wrists.
Now it's time for layer two! Use the second color of tape to completely cover the first layer, this way you can tell one layer from the next. You don't need to worry about using the "criss cross" method as much for this layer. We ran out of green tape, we should have had 2 rolls. It's best to only have one color at the end.
Draw "cut" lines along the arms and legs with your sharpie. Add "tick" marks along these lines to help line them up later. You can now unzip the painters suit so the person inside can get some air.
Use the medical scissors to safely cut the person out of the DTD along the cut lines you just drew. Medical scissors are a much safer option than regular scissors as they won't potentially cut or scratch the person inside the DTD. Now the person can wiggle their way out of the DTD through the unzipped zipper on the painters suit.
Trim the ends if there is any of the painters suit or paper towel hanging off the arms and legs beyond the duct tape.
The last step is the tape the DTD back up together! Use the perpendicular to the cut marks to line up the tick marks and tape closed. Next go lengthwise along the opening to finish off the seam. Repeat for each seam you had cut to get the person out of the DTD.
Congrats, you finished! You have a sturdy well made DTD that will hold up to lots of abuse. Make sure to let the DTD air out and dry before shipping or storing it.