The Paper Dress
My daughter goes to this amazing art camp. It is no-joke amazing – very fun and wildly creative. I am so glad she is able to go there. Last year her focus group performed on stage with words found -in old books, around old Deerfield, in overheard conversations – while enormous painting were being created simultaneously (they even made the scaffolding to get them to those great heights). It was weird and beautiful and very entertaining.
Like most camps, they have a “funky day” where the kids dress outrageously and Ava has been planning her outfit since the coldest winter months. Her plan: a dress made entirely out of paper. She designed and I sewed – the night before it was to be worn, of course, despite the months of knowing the plan. Well, we were both very pleased with the results!
I would walk you through all of the steps, but honestly, it was really made by folding and sewing those folds to create a form fitting shape., so let me give you just the basics.
I started by making a pleated skirt. To do this, I folded kraft paper back and forth into a fan – enough so I could sew two pieces together to make a skirt that was the right measurement for Ava’s high waist. Before sewing the side seams, however, I stitched along the upper edge of the pleats to secure them permanently. The seams were on the outside of the skirt, so to make them look good, I cut the edge with pinking shears and pressed them open with an iron.
I cut the bodice from a double layer of paper – better safe than sorry when a 14 year old is concerned. Ava designed the dress with a sweetheart neckline, so to make this, we folded the paper in half to cut a symmetrical line. The paper was long enough to wrap around her body (no side seams for this) and give me lots to work with for the “fold fitting”.
We made 2 darts by folding.
We then made 2 more by cutting, overlapping, and then sewing (see following images).
Okay, we were just too involved in the making to stop and take pictures after this point. Have a look at the pictures and you should be able to tell how we sewed things down. She wanted it fitted, so we left the back open (even past the waistline a bit so she could pull over her head) and attached self-adhesive velcro dots as a closure.
Some parts were impossible to get under my little sewing machine, so I hand stitched with embroidery floss, which worked great.
Ava folded strips of paper and sewed them up with a zig zag stitch. They were sewn on in the front and then I used brads to secure them in the back – that way they could be unstrapped when the dress went on and off.
This is my favorite part – the bodice.
Paper is, in some ways, forgiving stuff. If you want it to fit differently, just fold, press and sew. Wait, that really isn’t any different from sewing any garment. I guess if you can work symmetrically, then anything goes – unless, of course, you are into asymmetry.
The punch line:
She was feeling super exhausted and it was pouring on Funky day, and the girl DID NOT GO TO CAMP! Actually, I don’t really care. I was glad she was home.