Creative Inspirations from Paper Dresses

Lazies, Using materials in unconventional ways can inspire and startle us into new creative avenues. This paper dress display at the Craft & Hobby Association trade show in Los Angeles last weekend did just that for me. I found this clever Paper Runway display by Die Cuts With a View in the scrapbooking area. Let me tell you what I see when I look at these gorgeous dresses.

Look at every detail. Here’s what I see when I look at this dress: mixing patterns, layers, ruffles, accents, overall shape, visual texture, construction.

Here are the papers used in this dress: Wouldn’t you love a fat quarter collection of these designs? Be still my heart!

I love the mix of prints. Hounds-tooth and hexagons? Oh my goodness. Doesn’t this make you want to grab fabric from your stash and try different things together?

Proportion – we see about the same amount of each paper. The consistency is visually comforting. It’s scrappy with a color theme. Scrappy can be sophisticated.

Ruffles above the waist go up, below go down. Imagine a purse with ruffles going in different directions – I already want it, what ever it is!

A rich brown ribbon defines the waist. There is more dark at the bottom of the dress, which ties in nicely with the waist ribbon. The different golds are perfect accents.

Visual texture: Each paper is puckered like a clam shell. Rather than long ruffles that traverse the dress from side to side, smaller pieces of paper are used to create smaller ruffles that cluster together for an overall patchwork ruffled effect. Do you think they took a hint from quilting? Patchwork ruffles – I like these two ideas together.

While the first dress looked effortless and stylish, this pink floral looks very stiff and exaggerated. But there are respites of soft in this creation. The butterfly cut-outs at the sleeve are soft and light details that stand out amongst the rest of the dress. Look at how the butterflies are used. They do not cover the ‘fabric’ beneath, and they extend beyond the edge. It’s a perfect delicate detail. How can you use this concept with fabric? A sheer over a fabric? Applique that isn’t completely adhered?

And don’t miss the pleat detailing on the bodice. In conventional garment construction, darts are used at the bust line to shape the bodice. Here, the paper is stiff enough to use a series of flat pleats to shape the entire area. Where can you use fabric folding to create interest?

I adore this leaf dress. By cutting such detailed leaf shapes, it softens the paper and allows each leaf to take on an organic property with curves, flow and character. Edges of the leaves are adorned with embellishments, taking them from vegetation to glamor in an instant. Look at all the different colors used for these leaves. Cool blue greens and warm moss greens, along with hints of pink and a splash of copper. All of this is complimented nicely by the structured bodice of woven paper. Wouldn’t this color combination make a gorgeous purse or quilt?

The asymmetry of the embellishments is interesting here. The little butterflies are adorable. The mass of them in the lower right corner balances the single large flower at the waist. How can you use different sized and unrelated embellishments to balance your next project?

I like the bodice of this edgy dress. A mix of paper, tulle and buttons is very interesting here. Take a closer look at the bodice. Little blocks next to each other – patchwork! Playing in the seams? Oh my gosh, new horizons to conquer. The seams don’t have to just be utilitarian and functional. What can you put in your seams to bump up your next project? Piping anyone? Fringy piping? Piping without the piping – just a raw edge piece of fabric thrown in there – I’d love to see how that works up. Sounds like easy frayed edge quilting to me.

Now, how big was the show. Wow, click on the picture below to see the larger of the two exhibit halls. I walked most of it. Somewhere in the middle should have been an oasis with a coffee bar, massage therapist and cookies.

Click image to enlarge.

What inspires you?


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21 Responses to “Creative Inspirations from Paper Dresses”

  1. Marian — February 7, 2011 @ 9:13 am

    Thanks for great Monday style awakener for me! I love how you have taken the time to discuss your insights and inspirations from each dress. I think the tulle in the seams has the fastest application for me. I also love the scallop shapes of the ruffles in the first dress. what shape would you cut to add this detail to a purse? would you line the scallops, getting two designs on each, oh my! Thanks again! Sending it on to all my crafty friends in case they missed it today–

  2. sylvia — February 7, 2011 @ 9:14 am

    i have never seen anything like this i LOVE IT, LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  3. Bunny Vance — February 7, 2011 @ 9:20 am

    Totally amazing! Would love to do one!!!
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Bonnie Kane — February 7, 2011 @ 9:27 am

    stunning and refreshing!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Regina — February 7, 2011 @ 9:41 am

    These are so wonderful! The colors are incredible, too. I love the idea of things in the seams… uh oh – I feel another attack of CDD (Crafters Distraction Disorder) coming on!!!

  6. Wendyk — February 7, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    I love the one with the leaves, it really looks wearable! This reminds me that I have a DCWV fairytale scrapbook to start for my daughter, the paper and embellishments in the kit are beautiful, glittery and the colours are very rich.

  7. Judy Parker — February 7, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    Wow..this is very interesting…who would have thought paper could be so manipulated….I love the roses….thanks for sharing…blessings

  8. Sheryl — February 7, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    I too love all the color!!!! I am looking for some of those BUST out of the ordinary, and there are a few out there. But can someone point me in the direction of more!! I guess my question is what is your favorite-extra-ordinary COLOR company? Thanks

  9. Peggy Gonzales — February 7, 2011 @ 11:22 am

    These dresses are fantastic. I have never saw them before and set her amazed at the beauty of them.

  10. Penny — February 7, 2011 @ 11:32 am

    Fabulous!! Thanks for sharing!


  11. Susan Chase — February 7, 2011 @ 11:39 am

    Wow, that is creative overload, my mind is swirling so early on a Monday morning. I love your discussion of the paper dresses. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have all that in fabric.
    Thank you

  12. Sally Heydt — February 7, 2011 @ 11:48 am

    Wow! Yes, the creative juices flow!! These are wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

    From Snow Covered NE Oklahoma

  13. Kelly Jackson — February 7, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    I am so glad I did not go to that show. Fabric and Paper are my ultimate weaknesses…chocolate running a close third. Absolutely beautiful, inventive, inspiring and a darn good eye catching show stopper.

    Thanks so much for sharing….your the best 🙂

    The one girl lazier than you! Me…LOL


  14. Linda Ramage — February 7, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

    Fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Gwen — February 7, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    Wow, all those dresses are beautiful, amazing detail, I love the first and last one, the papers are so pretty too. I would love to see fabrics in some of those beautiful papers… who would have thought they’d come out with such beautiful paper!
    Thanks for the great pictures and your information on each dress…. they’re all stunning!!

  16. Kate — February 7, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    I couldn’t wear that to work, people would consider me a walking post it note and grab pieces of it off of me. By the end of the day, it would be down right indecent! LOL!

  17. Annie — February 7, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

    Joan: Thanks so much for sharing the amazing paper dresses — great inspiration there! I loved reading, too, about what you saw in each dress. Can’t wait to see how they inspire your next project!

  18. Peggy — February 7, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    Quite different from the wearable/disposable paper dresses from the 1960’s era… They were straight, sack-like, no darts and weren’t shapely at all. They were quickly in and out of style. They idea of them didn’t last long at all. Maybe these styles will have a better chance.

  19. Kathlene — February 13, 2011 @ 4:33 am

    Impressive. My mind is spinning. I used heavily starched butterflies and flowers cut from lace on a wedding dress. Had a similar look on bodice and down the sleeves. Thanks for showing.

  20. jojo — February 14, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

    sublime j adore merci bises jojo

  21. shelby whitlock — April 2, 2014 @ 11:48 am

    the dresses are beautiful.