The Recycled Phone Book Dress

(The Excuse)

In the last few months I’ve had trouble catching up with my RSS reading list, and so it happened that I became aware of this recycled newspapers dress contest from September only today. Although quite late, it’s also a perfect timing, as I was looking for an elegant excuse for me to start telling you about my recycled phone book dress experience.


(the inspiration)

It all started one year prior to that cat-litter contest, also from my usual RSS    browsing routine. I read about these refashioned newsprint shoes by Lindsey North, which made me feel all sorts of warm and fuzzy. It was clear to me that I had to create some newspaper-related clothing item at once,  in order to calm myself down.


(the making)

Naturally, the clothing item that was chosen for this “assignment” was a dress. And then shoes. and a hat. and knee pads.

Yes. Knee pads.

Don’t ask why. Just don’t ask.

I don’t normally keep many newspapers around my house, but I did have a big-useless-space eating Yellow Pages book just waiting for my command. So this is what I used, with the help of trusty white glue and some masking tape.

I covered my mannequin with some chip fabric, so nothing would stick to it, and then I started by applying layers of paper and glue to it, in order to harden the paper, so it wouldn’t rip when I wear it.

I worked 360 degrees around the doll, adding layers of paper to construct  the shape  of the body, and when that base really started to form, I tried to listen to the material when it told me that “nothing pleats better then paper”, and gave the dress a couple of pleated layers for the skirt.

Building on top of that base, I wanted to distinguish the final shape of the dress by adding more paper and fine-tuning the hem-lines and “frame”.  Finally, I decided to accent the shape of the bodice using some more folded paper that I painted black with a big bulky marker to perform as contour lines.

Remember when I wrote I worked all around the doll? So, when all was done, I took my big scissors and simply cut through the back of the dress, in order to be able to take it off of the doll, and to place it on me. I poked 2 rows of holes in the back, and threaded black organza ribbon through them, and voila! I made a wearable (though extremely reviling) paper dress.

The shoes were “tailored” in a similar way. As I have my own pair of lasts, it was all a question of gluing more and more layers of paper  so it could hold a human being enough time for a photo shoot. I enhanced the bottom with glued cardboard soles, and  also included little cardboard heels , as my lasts are shaped to fit those. The finishing touches included a black contour, to match the dress, and afterwards the matching hat and knee pads received the same treatment as well.

(the photo shoot)

These pictures were taken over a year ago, by my loving husband (fiancé, at the time) on the rooftop of our previous apartment. I think they came out beautiful, however,  In retrospect, I think it was a real shame I didn’t think of finding an old telephone for the shoot, placing everything indoors, like some old apartment with a telephone table, or even just accessorizing with a telephone in my hand or nearby.


BTW, this is what was left of the shoes after the session was over… the heels were flattened,  no straps left, and the contour got lots of tears. All in all – they did their job, and so has the dress.


5 responses to “The Recycled Phone Book Dress

  1. Lovely! I never saw it finished. It looks great, and produced some great photos. BTW, dear, it’s a bit hard to read the text with this background.

  2. How come we only hear about it now? Your dress is lovely and very well done.
    I really like it.

  3. Pingback: How To Turn Toilet Paper To Fame & Fortune | Flies in my eyes

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