Craftwork Cards Blog

Calendar Project – Summer Art Dress


Welcome to my blog focusing on my paper art dress.

July was my Month, using the Traditional Tartans paper pad and the jewel Distress It Matts.

After studying the gorgeous coloured tartan papers, I immediately thought of making an art dress. Art dresses are miniature gowns made from paper. So I set myself up with my sewing machine, coordinating ribbons and thread, and began to enjoy dressmaking on a very small scale!

Below are the instructions to make the dress. If you do not wish to read through all of that, please do enjoy seeing my photographs!

Instructions for the bodice. I wanted to make this a separate piece. Looking at dressmaking patterns on Pinterest for ideas, I drew my miniature patterns onto tracing paper. Cutting it out, and gluing together using added tabs to see if it would work. I cut and glued shallow cone shapes at the top of each front section, just like darts to create the bust shape. When happy, I pulled it all apart, and drew round my patterns onto the pink Distress It Matts. Cut them out, and sewn some lines of detail using green thread with my sewing machine. Pierced tiny holes for lacing ribbon in the back sections.  I glued the bodice together, and threaded very thin green ribbon into the back sections, lacing them up. Creating a nice bow at the base. I covered the joins with more very thin green ribbon. I also added green organza ribbon to neaten the top and bottom edges.

Looking through the paper pad, I chose a green tartan to make shoulder straps. Folding thin strips lengthways, I stitched two rows of stitching to hold it together. Cutting to size I glued the straps to the bodice. The inside was untidy, so I used the purple Distress It Matts,to cover areas inside which can be seen.

Next I wanted to add a ribbon frill round the bottom of the bodice, leaving the back clear. To do this I glued short lengths of twisted organza ribbon to a paper band. When this frilly band was the correct length, I folded over the paper band length ways to fully cover the frayed ribbon tops, and stitched to hold everything in place. Then I simply glued the band to the inside bottom of the bodice, across the front section and around the side panels.

To make the tiny rosette brooch on the front, I first cut a short length of pink and green organza ribbon. Placing them on top of each other with the green on the bottom jutting out slightly, and stitched a row of long stitches down the length. Pulled the stitches tight causes the ribbon to ruck-up and gather into a rosette. I hand stitched the frayed edges together. Pleat a tiny strip of the same green tartan paper as for the shoulder straps, and glue to form a circle to fit inside the ribbon rosette. After gluing this all together, once dried, I hand stitched a pink sequin to the center and then stitched the brooch in place onto the bodice front. To finish add a sticky gem right in the center of the sequin.

The bodice is now complete, and I think this is a lovely project just as it is. The addition of the skirt though creates a lovely dress. I also made a cardboard cone shaped stand to display the gown.

Instructions for the skirt. Using whole sheets of different tartan papers. Each skirt section is made basically the same, but decorated differently. I picked out two sheets of green tartan as used for the shoulder straps, to create a kind of bustle at the back. The two side panels are made from the dusky pink tartan, using one sheet each side. Coming round to the front panels, I chose the gorgeous two coloured tartan paper, and ending up with the brighter pink panel in the front section. So there is seven skirt panels in total.

To make one skirt panel, place a whole sheet of tartan paper in front of you in a diamond shape. Cut off the bottom corner closest to you in a curve. Next have fun stitching and decorating the paper however you wish.  Then turn your skirt panel over so the right side is facing down. With the curved corner towards you at the bottom again, fold over the two side edges that meet the top corner just a tiny bit like a little seam, and glue down. Cut off the top corner a little to form a short straight edge which will form the waist band. Now grab a round pencil and place it laying down from the waist band corner to the bottom curved corner. Gently wrap the paper skirt up around the sides of the pencil all the way along. This is the start of creating nice folds into the paper. Turn over to the right side and wrap again around the pencil next to the first bend creating a wave in the paper. Turn over again and do the same but place the pencil so that the bottom end is further out, creating folds in a fan shape.

Now you can repeat this for the other six skirt panels. When they are all done, fold down flat to form pleats, the folds of paper right at the top at the waist band area. I then used my sewing machine to sew the panels close together, sewing them in order across the waist band area with a few rows of stiches. Now you have a compete ring of paper panels. I then used the brighter pink tartan paper and made up a shallower panel, stitched this over the top at the front to form a kind of bib. I also made a very smooth short panel and glued this at the back to create a flat are for the bow the sit.

I then constructed a large bow from the same brighter pink tartan paper as used for the bib. I made a flat piece for the base of the bow, flat tails, but gave the top bow some structure by looping the paper over just like a material bow. Again wrap the bow around a pencil to add movement. Glue the bow elements together, and when dry, glue in place at the back of the skirt.

The skirt is almost complete, but at this stage it’s a good idea to make a cardboard stand to hold the dress.

Instructions for the cardboard stand. Using a smooth cardboard I made up a cone shape to fit the height of the skirt. I made my cone slimmer than the skirt, but wide enough to stand securely. Just use clear sticky tape to hold in place. Leave a small whole at the top of the cone to slot in a cardboard bodice support. This I have made with a thin re-enforced stem to slot into the top of the cone stand, and a top section wider to hold the bodice upright in place on top of the skirt. It’s worth covering the top of the bodice support in the same purple Distress It Matt paper to blend in with the inside of the bodice.

I made final adjustments by placing the skirt onto the cone stand and making the waist band fit nicely. Then I stapled each skirt panel to the next using one staple and trying to keep the skirt in a lovely full shape. Slot in the bodice support and place the bodice on top. You can play around with your stand to make it work with your dress.

Thank you for all your interest.

Hope you enjoyed this closer look at my calendar art dress project.



  1. Natalie Reeves

    1st June 2017 - 9:29 am

    Fabulous dress Sue and great tutorial for those who wish to give it a try xx

    • Sue Smith

      4th June 2017 - 7:00 pm

      Thank you Natalie! Thanks so much for having a look and leaving me a nice comment to find! xXx

  2. Lisa Shaw

    2nd June 2017 - 7:02 am

    Simply stunning, Sue. Thanks for showing us what can be achieved with a few sheets of paper!

    • Sue Smith

      4th June 2017 - 7:01 pm

      Thank you Lisa! Really appreciate you leaving me a lovely comment to read! xXx

  3. Elaine

    5th June 2017 - 2:46 am

    Beautiful dress and good instruction
    thank you xxxstunning

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