After much gnashing of teeth and rending of hair, and some discussion with various people (all whom have the audacity to be non-local and thus of no immediate help) I think I have, thanks to a suggestion from Edith over at The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist stumbled across a solution to my hose fitting problem! Meet my Duct Tape Leg Double!
This was actually quite easy to make, even on myself. I think it would be easier to do with some help, but it's totally doable on your own. For those of you wanting to make hose on your own, here's what I did:
1 Roll duct tape
1 16oz bag stuffing (minimum)
1. Wrapped you leg in plastic wrap. Get the good stuff, the cheep kind won't cling well and you will end up taping to your leg. Ouch! Wrap all the way up to your mid-thigh, you want the leg form to go above the knee, higher that your finished hose will go (better too high than not high enough). Secure the cling wrap with a small bit of tape.
2. Cut some strips of duct tape about 8 inches long with scissors you do not care about (the tape will gum up your scissors pretty bad so don't use your good ones)
3. Start taping at the bottom of your foot, keeping your ankle in a bent position as though standing. I found this was easiest to do if I sat down and kept my foot on the ground, checking my wrapping as I went by standing up after I placed every couple of pieces of tape. The tape should be as smooth as you can make it and snug, but don't wrap too tightly or you will cut off the circulation to your foot.
4. Keep wrapping with short bits of tape up your leg, keeping it in a standing position, until you have one layer of tape from your foot to wherever you want your form to stop (thigh high is probably good). Don't make it tight at the top or it won't be an accurate fit.
5. Build up a second layer of tape over the first, with the tape strips going in the opposite direction.
6. Cut the form off your leg CAREFULLY and remove from your foot. I cut down the inside of my leg to my foot rather than down the back, as I was doing this alone and could not reach the back of my leg and cut safely. Do whatever works, just don't cut yourself and try to keep the cutting line straight. This is the hardest part of the whole process.
7. Tape the cut line back together but only up to the top of the ankle. Stuff the foot and ankle firmly with whatever you are using to stuff. I used plastic grocery bags for the foot and poly fiber fill for the rest. Get a good firm stuff on the foot and ankle to support to the rest of the form.
8. Tape the rest of the leg and finish stuffing.
9. Cut on oval of cardboard out to fit the top opening of your leg form. Insert this to cover the stuffing, and tape it in place, covering it with tape.
10. Go back and add one more layer of tape over the whole form, paying particular attention to weak spots like the ankle and behind the knee. You can tweak the measurements a bit at this stage, building up or pulling in spots are not quite the right size.
11. Admire your work and make beautiful hose!
A couple of quick notes:
- I stuffed the foot with plastic bags, which seemed to give me a firmer pack. This is a good thing. More weight might also be good, so if you can add something to weight the foot so the whole thing stands on it's own, put that in the foot stuffing.
- If I do this again I will try that expanding foam insulation stuff they have at the hardware store
- A dowel or some other rigid support might be useful to support the ankle. Mine is a little wobbly, which is not a huge issue as I don't anticipate this thing lasting that long but if you want to use it for many pairs of hose the extra rigidity might help.