Picture of Dress made out of Potting Soil Bags

So, you need a dress, one that stands out from the crowd, for maybe a themed party? You hate your bridesmaids? Prom? Halloween? Just didn't know what to do with all those leftover bags from where you laid dirt in the garden? Well, this dress is certainly not of the norm. So let's get started!

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Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

You will need the following:

Potting soil bags, for this short dress, I needed about four bags, you may need more or less depending upon the style, length, and size of your dress.

Fasteners: I used velcro, but you can use a zipper, snaps, corset lacing and grommets, etc. Make it fit to your dress.

Scissors or a rotary cutter (Note, do NOT use your nice fabric scissors on these, it will ruin your scissors, use general ones.)

Sewing machine or alot of patience. For a no sew version you can use duct tape, but I can't promise it will hold together very well, so make sure you wear something under it if you go that route.

Soap and water, these bags come with dirt in them. Dirt is dirty, you should wash said bags before hand, rather then get dirt all over your house.

Electrical, duct, or bias tape. In coordinating colors! That or you can roll your hems, but who has that kind of time?

Step 2: Clean and cut your bags!

Picture of Clean and cut your bags!

Lay out your bags, and cut them up, I used a rotary cutter and a mat for this, all you need to do as far as cutting right now are up the sides, so that way your bag will fold out like a piece of fabric. After you do this, wash all the dirt off the front and back side. Unless you are just really going for that "natural" look.
To clean them I found the easiest way was to take a sponge with soap and just scrub at it to loosen the dirt, then spray them down with my hose. After that just hung them up to dry.

Step 3: Determine the style of your dress.

Picture of Determine the style of your dress.

The cool thing about these dresses are all the neat logos and writing, at least, I thought they looked cool. Using a form or a pattern, start "draping" or laying your plastic out, pinning and cutting, to figure out what you want your dress to be like. I went with a basic circle skirt with a corset-esque bodice and halter straps. If you are great at sketching (Which I am not) you can sketch out a basic design first. I generally go the "Pin stuff to my form till I like it" route.

Step 4: Clean up your hems, and actually, you know, assemble the dress.

Picture of Clean up your hems, and actually, you know, assemble the dress.

No, I am not going to explain how to sew your dress together, because if you are making dresses out of plastic bags, I assume you might know how to sew a little bit and have hit a creative wall and/or grown tired of mere fabric and wanted a real challenge (If this is untrue, I do apologize.)

I can tell you that to clean up my hems, I used electrical tape, because the store had every duct tape under the sun, glitter, superman, mac n cheese, zebra print, but no plain ole hunter green. So I had to use electrical tape, which I actually ended up liking better anyhow.

Step 5: Go frolic around your garden/cornfield/barn

And/or wear it to that even that you decided in step one you needed a plastic dress for. Oh, also, you will probably get all sweaty in this thing, assuming you take my advice and wander about a garden for photos in Tennessee weather.
Now, pat yourself on the back, you made a dress, from something that's not typically used to make a dress, your friends will think you are rad and you will be the life of the party! Also, you recycled old bags that may have ended up in a landfill otherwise, AND you hopefully have things growing from the dirt that you used that came with those nice bags. AND now you have another dress.
Whoo hoo!!

Buffalo691 year ago

Please be very careful when using bags of potting mix.
Potting mix has been linked with respiratory illness in Australia, including Pneumonia and Legionaires disease.
If you feel you must use potting mix bags to make a dress, use gloves and a respirator or at minimum, a face mask, when handling the bags (full or empty).
Here is a link to the West Australian government's health warning:


amandaggogo (author)  Buffalo691 year ago

Oh goodness! That's awful!
I'm from the US, so I don't know that our potting soil has caused any issues, I just reused the bags from the soil we bought them in to lay in the garden and flower beds, and I made sure I cleaned them before using them.

A lot of U.S. bagged soil is heat treated to sterilize it of soil born pests. Which is why it I generally mix potting soil with some soil from outside because the beneficial critters are also killed in it. This is done to prevent plant diseases from spreading around the country. Generally, exposure to soil is beneficial to the immune system. To get sick from non sterilized soil you'd have to be already weak and the soil would have to be dry so it would allow the inhalation of endospores.

Just be very careful and maybe include a suggestion or warning about handling the bags. I believe the health concerns are relevant regardless of geography.

Wikipedia also makes mention of reported cases in the US:

"Infections due to potting mix have been reported in Australia,[10] New Zealand,[11] the Netherlands[12] and the United States.[13]

On June 13, 2000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a woman in Washington was hospitalized with pneumonia that was triggered by Legionella longbeachae, the bacterium associated with Legionnaires' Disease. The CDC also confirmed the presence of Legionella longbeachae in soil in Australia and Japan.[14]"

I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the hazard as this instructable will clearly increase people's exposure to the risk.

By the way, I think your dresses are really clever.

awesome dress. Probably wouldn't be too bad to wear in cooler weather. When I saw this my first thought was you should call it a fertility dress. The whole, fertile soil metaphor.
amandaggogo (author)  Todd Gehris1 year ago

That's a great name for it!
And yeah, Cooler weather for sure, it was HOT in that dress when I was getting photos made of it.

When is the Faire? Update your instuctable if you win anything.

amandaggogo (author) 1 year ago
I understand your concerns, and thank you for them. But in all reality, how many people would actually go about wearing this for more than 5 minutes for some pictures. This dress was more of an art project/ a challenge. And I'm entering it in my local fair. Where it straight up will be hung on a hanger, and probably never worn again. Its not really supposed to be a conventional outfit for daily wear. This is kind of a tongue in cheek dress, as was my intro for it haha. Anyone who puts this on and wears it for more then a few minutes is going to realize it's not exactly a comfy "night on the town" kind of outfit.
Kurt_DR1 year ago

I have a constructive concern about this project: I would be cautious of chemicals in the potting soil and in the bag themselves of leeching into your skin. Some of the bags may not be bpa free given the usage of carrying soil/ fertilizer. In addition to the chemicals found in the soil/ fertilizer themselves may not be all that great for the human body and your skin. Just a thought

kishida1 year ago

Good re-use of otherwise disposable materials. I've made re-usable rectangular bottom grocery bags with handles from old dog food bags (seems like a tarp material).

amandaggogo (author)  kishida1 year ago

Oh yes, I've seen bags made from those before, they are super cute! (And very durable!)

I've carried 40 lbs. of groceries in them with no problems and there's a picture of a cute dog on the bag. Good material and only minor modifications needed.

Perhaps a simple apron with pockets for the gardener who doesn't know what to do with the leftover bag would be something else that could be made. Cool dress!

amandaggogo (author)  Money_Illusion1 year ago

I actually considered making an apron, But it turned into a dress instead! :0)

DaveB131 year ago

Dress is great ( I don't wear dresses, I just admore the people that do. ) I voted for both contest entries. Googling Images for: coffe sack dress, potato sack dress, and Tyvek dress will turn up some atunners as well.

amandaggogo (author)  DaveB131 year ago

Thank you!

bwelkin1 year ago

I particularly like the darts.

amandaggogo (author) 1 year ago
Thanks all!
And Jobar007, yes we were! My boyfriend made a bow from PVC pipe and we were testing it out.
Jobar0071 year ago

Were you using those bags as targets? If not, the arrow in step 1 is intrigueing.

BLR_RAVI1 year ago
beautiful..also excellent project for using waste articles
peach girl1 year ago
I agree with you MrsMalookie its an awsome idea.

Fantastic idea and what a brilliant result. The ultimate garden party get up!


peach girl1 year ago
please check out my instructable
peach girl1 year ago
no problem . you dont have to buy dresses if your poor
amandaggogo (author) 1 year ago
Thanks guys!
And I'm currently trying to enter it in the mikes hard one, I'm trying to do this via the app on my phone so I'm trying to figure out how.
peach girl1 year ago
awesome idea?
Great pictures, wow!

This is so awesome! You should enter it in the mikehacks and summer contests!