A wee tutorial on how to make fish scales out of packing tape.

As promised, here is the tutorial. I hope it helps you out. My camera is not the greatest, just trust me that these things look really cool in person.

Before I start, I wanted to show you my inspiration. I was trying to make a combination of the jacket Emma Watson was wearing for the Vogue shoot, as well as the famous 1949 Dior dress with scales on it. Miley Cyrus wore a copy of it to the 2009 Oscars.

I made the images in the tutorial full-size so you can just scroll down.

Things you will need:

– A template of your scale mounted on foamcore
– Pins
– Clear packing tape
– A small paintbrush
– Big sequins, medium sequins and small sequins
– Scissors
– Transparent tape
– Clear sequins, preferably square but round is fine too
– An ink pen

1. Make a template and attach it to a piece of foamcore.

2. Cut some of the large sequins in half.

2. Cut off a piece of clear packing tape and pin it down to the template sticky-side up, aligning the top of the tape with the flat part of the scale. Pin it in place.

4. Dampen the paintbrush with a little bit of spit or water and pick up the sequin halfsies, placing them with the flat edge against the round part of the scale. Don’t soak the brush, you just want it tacky enough that the sequins will stick until they hit the packing tape. I wanted them to have a scattered look so I made them uneven, but you can make them even if you want, no problem.

5. Fill in some of the gaps with full-size large sequins. Again, I’m doing a random pattern.

6. Now fill in further with the medium and small sequins, creating a rough crescent shape (thicker in the middle, thinner at the edges).

7. Using only the small sequins, place a few in the interior area, giving a bit of a “fade” effect.

8. When I bought the sequins, they came in a bag with a lot of the center punched-out bits still included. You know when they punch out a sequin, the little hole in the middle? Those pieces was in the bag as well. I inserted them here and there between the sequins to fill in and then to smooth the transition of the fade effect. Waste not want not, my Grammy said, so that’s what I’m doing.

9. Snip off another piece of packing tape and, starting at the center of the scale, gently mash it down on top of all this, smoothing outward as you go, effectively encapsulating the sequins in a plastic cage for eternity. It’s okay if there are bubbles, but if they are very large and bother you, take a pin and pop them gently on one side, then use your fingernail to coax the air out.

10. Use the ink pen to trace the outer edge of the scale.

11. Remove the pins and you should be left with this.

Trim it with the scissors and voila! You have a scale. I, however, was concerned with the scales ripping when I sewed through them, so I did an additional reinforcing measure. I recommend it. If you’re spending all this time on making these freakin’ things you don’t want them coming off and causing you sadness.

12. Rip off a piece of transparent tape. Not Magic Tape, transparent tape. Lay it down sticky-side up at the top of the scale template. Stick two pins in it so it doesn’t shift.

13. Here’s where the clear sequins and those two black marks come in. Since the sequins are clear and therefore hard to see, I took a photo of one on the back of my remote control which was conveniently sitting next to me (as it always is, I love TV).

Using the damp-paintbrush technique, put two sequins at the toppy-top-top of the tape, aligning the center holes with the black lines.

14. Press the scale down on top of the transparent tape, remove the pins and trim the excess. Now repeat over and over and over (in my case, 140 times). Here’s one side of my corset with the scales sewed on.

I think this was a good idea. They’re lightweight and very flexible. Hopefully it will all look good together.

One Response to “A wee tutorial on how to make fish scales out of packing tape.”

  1. snorth says:

    “the back of my remote control which was conveniently sitting next to me (as it always is, I love TV).” <- LOLOL!!!!
    Also, this reaffirms my conclusion that you are amazingly talented. And coo coo!! The tutorial's rad, but there's NO WAY mine would come out anywhere near as awesome as yours!!

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