Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to: Make a duct tape dress

Never designed before? Never sewed?  Never been particularly crafty?  No problem.  This is definitely the beginner's guide to making a duct tape dress (and how NOT to make a duct tape dress).  Myself, I decided not to read guides before attempting this, so everything I did was trial & error (emphasis on the error).  This design requires no sewing, minimal measurements, and almost no skill.  I decided to create the top and skirt as separate pieces so I could experiment with techniques.

What you'll need:
-3 to 5 rolls of duct tape (more if you want a long dress)
-Strong scissors
-Thin cloth, old clothes, or toilet paper

Method A: Using old clothes as a base
If you're a beginner, it might be a good idea to start with this method while you get a feel for working with duct tape and how to mould it to fit your curves.  I started off by using a shirt.

1.  Laying down the material: If you like the look of clean stripes, simply cut strips of duct tape to the width of the garment.  Make sure to stretch your shirt out before you lay down the strips- duct tape has minimal stretchiness. If your strips are too tight, you may need to cut yourself out of the I did.

Alternatively, cut smaller squares and stick them to your clothing base.  I decided to cut them into random sizes, but if you want to align them properly to look like a pattern, that'd look awesome too. I went with this option because I find that the design stretches more, and it's easier to fix up (yay, patchwork!).

2.  Neckline:  Your little pieces of duct can either be arranged diagonally and such to fit the shape of the neckline you want (V-neck, sweetheart, etc).  You could also arrange the duct tape in the same horizontal pieces as before, then just cut the neckline into the shape you want after.

3.  Straps: To measure, you can either be all fancy and use a measuring tape, or be like me and cut the straps off your old shirt and use that as your ruler by stretching the straps a bit and cutting the duct tape along to that length.

Just keep adding patches of duct tape until all the spaces are covered up.
4.  The back:  Approach the back the same way that you would the front.  For the back of my dress, I decided to cut the old shirt to a low back.  To create the dropped back effect, cut four strips of duct tape together that are a bit long than the standard width of your shirt.  Then, stick two together so you're left with two strips of duct tape with the silver side up.

Method B: Creating your own outline
For the skirt, I decided to create its shape myself by laying down a base, then setting duct tape over it.  If you want a sustainable design, I suggest you use some kind of material.  But for the purpose of a quick one-wear piece, I used toilet paper as a actually worked pretty well!

1.  Laying down the base:  You may want to look at some outlines online so you can get a sense of what a flattened out version of what kind of skirt you want is (especially if you're doing something other than a straight skirt).  Take some measurements of your curves, and lay down 1 ply of toilet paper to the lengths you want.

2.  Duct tape surfacing:  I started off by cutting pieces of duct tape and laying them on the top and bottom hemline of the skirt to keep the toilet paper base in place.  Then, using duct tape pieces again, fill in the middle of the skirt.

3.  Shaping the skirt:  Once you have the skirt covered with duct tape, it's time to give your skirt a skirt-y shape.  To do this, I folded the skirt around my waist so I could get a sense of where to seal it and what the end result would look like.

4.  Alterations: If your skirt is too wide or if you're unhappy with the shape, simply find in the sides until you get the shape you want.  To seal your skirt, use a few duct tape strips to first hold it in place, then continue with more strips to match the pattern of the rest of your skirt.

Now that your skirt is done, you can either leave it as a skirt, or tape it to your shirt to have a full dress.

And there you go, a fairly simple, minimal skill...duct tape dress.

Other notes: 
-It took me about 7-10 hours to complete.
-Your scissors are gonna get extremely sticky and difficult to use- either have a spare pair, or wash them often.
-Try not to tape your hands and other limbs together. Believe me, it's not fun.  I speak from experience.

To see more photos of my completed dress, click here.

Happy dress making!


  1. Fun! I've never made a duct tape dress before. But when I was in high school I made duct tape wallets to sell at school. :)

  2. Wow, what a fun project! How did you come up with this idea?


  3. That is absolutely amazing, I love how you did this! Thanks for sharing!
    xoxo, Veena


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