Up-cycle Project Progress : Paper Dress

For my up-cycle project I decided to make a dress out of paper recycling bags. These bags are provided at grocery stores and are also handed out at the dorms on campus.

The reason I wanted to make this dress is because I am attending a time travelers ball in mid February. Last time I went as someone from the future so this time I want to be from the past. When trying to decide what to make for my project I watched Singin’ In The Rain. This movie was made in the 50s and is set in the 20s. As shown below, there are a lot of great outfits in this movie but the one I thought might be possible to make is the flapper one in the second row.

Related image
A Beautiful Girl…Singin’ In The Rain (1952) Costume Designer: Walter Plunkett (1)

The flapper dress looked a little too easy so I started looking at 50s fashion instead. I was really drawn to the two dresses shown below. I decided to replicate the style of the second one because it is more fun and the first dress looks more like something one would wear to work in the 50s.

Fashions of the 50s. My Vintage.com (2)
50s style dress. (3)

To make this dress I decided to split it up into a couple of different sections, the skirt, the belt, and the shirt. For the skirt portion I thought about laser cutting a bunch of sections and taping them together to make the skirt wider at the bottom. I planned out the dress during our quick drawing in class.

I looked up how to make a regular skirt and saw the technique of crimping the top so that the bottom is longer than the top (4). They also said to use material 3 times the length of the waist size. I flattened the bags and cut off the unusable parts, then I taped the bags together and made one big flat piece. Then I folded one side over and over until it had a length of 32 inches (my waist size). It ended up looking like a giant paper fan.

Next, I am going to make the belt which will cover the top of the skirt. I am also going to look into how to make a shirt out of regular fabric and then modify that to make it out of paper.


  1. https://fashionsizzle.com/2014/01/01/costume-designer-walter-plunkett-influence-on-fashion-and-the-movies/
  2. https://www.myvintage.co.uk/Graphics/fashions-of-the-fifties.jpg
  3. https://www.whowhatwear.com/50s-fashion
  4. https://byhandlondon.com/blogs/by-hand-london/34307717-5-easy-skirts-to-make-refashion-without-a-sewing-pattern

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