Duct Tape Dummies For Dummies

What is a DTD?

A duct tape dummy, abbreviated DTD, is a three-dimensional, life-sized model made from duct tape. A DTD makes it possible for the client’s costume to be patterned and tailored accurately without the client needing to model in person.

FYI: Please keep in mind that a mascot costume is only as good as its duct tape dummy.

No matter the skill level of the maker, if the client’s DTD is poorly made, the costume will not fit well. 

As outlined in SYF’s Terms of Service, clients will be charged $60 and required to make another if the DTD received is defective.


How to Make a DTD:

First gather your tools and supplies. This is what you will need:

– A disposable painter’s suit
Our recommendation is a Tyvek disposable suit by Dupont.

– 5+ rolls of duct tape
The brands Duck and Scotch both work well. Do not get an off-brand because the tape will not hold together well. How much tape you will use depends on how tall you are and your body frame size. Get at least 6 rolls. When in doubt, get more than you think you’ll need. It is also a good idea to get two colors of tape to distinguish the two different layers of tape as you make the dummy.

– Two tall floor lamps
Anything tall and sturdy enough for you to hold onto works as well. 

– EMT shears

– Scissors

– Plastic wrap

– A Sharpie marker

– 1+ willing helpers
Preferably someone you are comfortable with seeing you practically naked and touching you pretty much everywhere. Yeah.

– An awesome playlist
Optional but recommended. You are going to be standing in one place for awhile.

1. Prepare the painter’s suit.

First, use the bathroom. Seriously. Once the process begins, there is no going back. If you have to cut the unfinished DTD off of you in order to relieve yourself, you risk ruining it.

Strip down to your undergarments. No picture of this step is necessary. 

Now put on the painter’s suit. It will be baggy and unattractive. That is okay. You are not here to look sexy.

Have your helper cut off the elastic in the arms, legs, and back. Then carefully cut off the hood, leaving as even of a “collar” as you can around the neck. It is important that there is no elastic in the painter’s suit, because it will pull away from and distort the tape, ultimately ruining the DTD. 

If you are going to wear a cooling vest or any body modification garments underneath your costume, you need to wear them underneath the painter’s suit during the making of the DTD to ensure your costume will fit well and look good.

FYI: This picture shows the painter’s suit before preparation.

2. Secure the waistline.

Pull the crotch of the painter’s suit as low as it can go and straighten out the upper half of the painter’s suit as much as you can. Wrap some tape around your waistline, the narrowest point on your body. This is an anchor point for the DTD and will help you tailor the painter’s suit correctly.

Make sure it is not too tight. You need to be able to breathe comfortably and should be able to pinch just a little bit of fabric away from your body.

Do not tape over the zipper. Leaving it intact will make it easier to remove the DTD from your body. 

3. Secure the crotch and thighs.

TMI moment incoming! The crotch is one of the most important parts of the DTD to tape up correctly. If it is not, the entire fit of the costume will be off. 

Spread your legs to about shoulder width, and then have your helper take the scissors and make an incision in the painter’s suit in the center of the crotch, following the seam back to front. 

Now take each corner in the inner thigh, fold them over, and tape them down. 

If a gap is formed by this, take some plastic wrap, cover the hole, and tape it down.

4. Tape from your torso down to your knees.

FYI: When taping, you need to tape in strips that are only several inches long. Do not have the tape wrapped around you like a mummy. This method will cut off circulation and will not result in a sturdy DTD or a costume that fits well.

It is also important that every part of the tape has a backing. Never put tape on skin and never leave the sticky side of the tape exposed. Not only will this be very painful for you when cutting off the DTD, but it will ruin the DTD because it will stick to itself.

Stand normally during this process; do not lock your knees or bend them too much and do not spread your legs too far apart or keep them too close together.

Do not suck in your tummy and remember not to tape too tightly. This is very important. If you cannot breathe comfortably in your DTD, you will not breathe or move comfortably in your costume. 

5. Tape the feet, legs, and arms.

Start by taping half of the feet. Do this before you tape the rest of the legs, otherwise the painter’s suit will bunch up and the costume’s legs will be too short. If the painter’s suit can’t reach down far enough over your feet, cover them with plastic wrap and tape over that. Now tape the rest of the legs up.

Next, grab two tall floor lamps (or something similar).

Hold onto them, making sure your arms are level with your shoulders. Think relaxed T-posing. Do not lock your elbows but also do not bend them too much.

Make an incision in the armpit of the painter’s suit just as you did with the crotch, folding and taping down the loose edges. Tape plastic wrap over the gap formed by this. It is imperative that the armpits of the DTD fit closely against your own. Before taping the rest of the arms, tape the wrist right up to the base of your thumbs. Next, tape the rest of the arms. 

6. Tape the rest of the upper body and neck.

Tape your upper torso, chest, and back. 

Finally, tape up your neck. Tape as closely to your neck as possible without making it too tight, using the same taping methods you did for the rest of your body. 

Now go over the entire DTD with a second layer of tape. Use a different color of tape than the first layer to ensure good coverage. A second layer is required because otherwise the DTD will be too flimsy to be used. Double-check the DTD for any gaps or weak areas.

FYI: The two colors [silver and pink] in this picture comprise the same layer, the first one being black. Silver was a backup and so we used that when we ran out of pink.

And that’s it. Your duct tape dummy is finished! 

7. Exit the DTD.

Now it is time for your helper to cut you out of your DTD.

Have them draw seam lines on the arms and legs to show how far up and down to cut them. Start with five inches up the arms and down the legs; draw and cut further as needed. Add hash marks before you cut (demonstrated in picture) so that the DTD can be aligned and taped back up correctly. (DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!)

Unzip the zipper to make exiting the DTD easier. You can see now why it is so important to leave it untaped! 

FYI: When cutting the DTD off your body, have your helper use EMT shears (pictured) to protect your skin. In some areas it is easier to use regular scissors, but use extra caution. Bloody DTDs don’t hold together as well. 

8. Let the DTD air out and ship it off!

Leave your DTD alone to air out overnight; no maker likes receiving a sweaty DTD! 

In the morning, carefully fold it up and mail it to Strut Your Fluff. Remember to write your name and your character’s name on the DTD.  

And that’s that.