Reclaimed Paper Wedding Dress


This was a very simple and fun project that started out with some coffee filters that had gotten wet in soapy water. Not wanting to throw away the filters, I set them out to dry and then stored them for a future project. Although this happened a few years ago, I saved them and they were still in good shape. I have been crafting with recycled manila folders for a long time because this sturdy cardboard lends itself to a lot of recycled craft projects. While cutting out a doll form for another project, I got the crazy idea to use the coffee filters as a combination of collage and paper mache.


The soft fluffy feel of the coffee filter gave me an idea. I decided to tear up little thumb-nail size pieces, gluing only a tiny edge of the torn piece to the cardboard dress form, and leaving the rest of the torn fluffy piece hanging freely on the cardboard. When gluing the torn rough-edged pieces very close together, the overall look of the rows started to look like light fabric ruffles on a dress.


I then decided to stop at a certain point and glue beads to the top part of the dress. I traced the top part of the cardboard form onto plain paper and cut out that paper shape. I drew different designs and held them up against the top row of ruffles until I found one I really liked. I then glued bigger filter pieces to the top part and all the way down to the dress hip area as a base on which to glue on the white beads. I glued the white beads following the drawn design and was happy to see the beads were staying in place, and better yet, I didn’t have to sew on each bead, (although I love hand sewing ) .


The simple veil was made from two small pieces cut from the same cardboard manila folder. I cut out a one inch oval shape, poked a hole in the center of the oval shape and cut out an opening leaving a 1/4 inch ring. I then folded one (shorter) edge of the oval shape forming it into an L shape. I then cut out a smaller oval shape from the cardboard and cut (about 1/8 inch) from the bottom edge (of the longer side of the oval shape). I then glued the smaller oval shape (straight edge down) to the larger oval shape making sure the flat side of the L shape was lined up against the straight edge of the smaller oval shape. I cut small coffee filter pieces and glued them entirely over the brown of the cardboard veil. I then glued on the same white beads to the front of the veil in a pretty pattern. I cut out a piece of white tuling I had in my remnants box, basted one edge and trimmed a complimentary shape by placing it near the dress, and then sewed the basted edge around the back opening of the cardboard veil. For picture purposes, I displayed the veil near the dress by taping a small piece of cardboard behind the dress neckline.


The frame we used for this project was made from recycled pieces of wood leftover from other projects and stained with a dark brown latex stain. Although I reused coffee filters, recycled manila folders and embellishments, one can make this project using any kind of paper and cardboard. This also makes a great project to work on with family and friends. So always remember to just have fun and create your very own piece of art.


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