I’ve got a bit of a thing at the moment for paper clothing.  Not to actually wear, of course – the memory of those giant disposable paper knickers they hand you as you wince your way out of the maternity hospital is still far too vivid for that. No, I’m thinking of the fragile beauty of works like these, and even the current trend for origami dresses which is spreading across Pinterest faster than a bush fire in Summer.

So when I opened a cupboard last week and was hit by a cascade of rolled up wallpaper offcuts and samples we’ve been collecting for our home makeover, I decided to have a go myself, and knocked up this natty waistcoat to hang decoratively on Harry’s wall – albeit safely out of reach.  It took a couple of hours from sketching out the template to glueing on the last button; I describe all the steps below and will attach my hand-drawn template this weekend for download if you fancy having a go yourself.  A great way of doing this is to simply draw around a favourite item of clothing and use that as a rough paper pattern for crafting.  Simple girls dresses would look beautiful made out of wallpaper, kraft paper or sturdy gift wrap, especially if trimmed in leftover ribbon – a gallery of my favourites from across the web can be found at the bottom for inspiration!

To make my paper waistcoat I used…

1. Leftover wallpaper (this is a slightly textured, iridescent print we used as an accent on a feature wall), or wallpaper samples procured illicitly from your local DIY store. 2. A contrast paper for the ‘lining’ and pocket cuffs; I used a cheap map-of-the-world wall chart; I buy a few at a time and use them for all kind of projects. 3. Ribbons for edging, or use bias binding for an even simpler, pre-folded alternative. 4. Suitable glue and sharp scissors and finally 5. Buttons! Anything goes here… I had a handful leftover from an old shirt. Oh, and 6. Chocolate, red wine (not shown); well, a crafter needs fuel, right?

I used a waistcoat of Harry’s to draw a rough template of a back and the two front sides, then laid them out along my roll of wallpaper to allow me to cut out a single piece (with a smaller piece of wallpaper you could cut them out as separate pieces and attach them together later).  As with a sewing pattern, I left an extra inch all around to fold under like a seam, giving my paper waistcoat a nice edge. I cut and folded my outline into the basic shape of the waistcoat (below).

Once you have this basic shape, the possibilities for embellishing it are endless.  Here’s what I did (no step-by-step pics I’m afraid as I did this one evening after darkness fell..):

  • Stapled the should seams together (do this with the sides too if necessary), as close as possible to the edges – you’ll hide the staples later with your ribbon edging.
  • Folded and glued ribbon around all of the raw edges (sleeves, neckline and front edging)
  • Cut a piece of contrast map paper using the ‘back’ template and glued it in place, adding a splash of colour and hiding my raw edges around the neckline
  • Cut out pocket shapes from both papers and laid them on top of each other, gluing in place with a piece of the ribbon as edging
  • Fashioned a handkerchief pocket from offcuts and folded an interesting section of map paper for the ‘kerchief
  • Found a handful of matched buttons and glued them in place.

I used the materials I had to hand, making it both cheap and an instantly ‘do-able’ project.  Next time I’ll try it with a more brightly patterned wallpaper and some primary colours for the ribbon and buttons; at this rate, I can feel a paper wardrobe coming on ;-)

Here are some more ideas for paper clothing from around the web, from the ethereally beautiful through to hardcore shoe fetishism; all references below

Images 1&2 by artist Elisabeth Lecourt, Images 3&4 via here, Image 5 via here

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