Introduction: Phone Book Dress

Picture of Phone Book Dress

I really enjoy constructing items out of objects that are headed for the landfill. This year I decided to make a dress out of several phone books that I got from friends and family. It turned out great, I made a matching purse, hat and shoes! I entered the outfit in the "Trashion" Show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The show is held on the first weekend in December, they have a recycle Art Show every year and this year it was at the Convention Center. I won 3rd place in the adult category and best paper outfit! It was a wonderful opportunity to participate in a cause that I feel strongly about- educating people about the tremendous amount of trash that ends up in landfills and to try and get everyone to think about what they can do to minimize that.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

For this project you will need the following:

old phone books (6 or 8, depending on thickness)


scotch tape

an old lightweight denim skirt

a couple of old cotton shirts

sewing machine


measuring tape

straight pins

22" zipper

Baling wire and wire cutters

Step 2: Underskirt

Picture of Underskirt

The underskirt can be made out of fabric or an old curtain or sheet.

I wanted the skirt portion to be 25" long from the waist so I measured and cut the waistband off the old skirt.

I needed the waist to be 32" around so I sewed several darts in the skirt to allow it to flare out at the bottom.

Leave an opening at the top of the back for a zipper.

Step 3: Paper Triangles

Picture of Paper Triangles

Tear the pages out of the phone book. Bring the top of the page down to the bottom and fold. Make another fold, this time vertically, open. Fold each top corner down so that the top comes to a point. Place a small piece of scotch tape where the 2 corners meet. With the scissors, trim all but 1/2" of the unfolded bottom part off.

Continue folding these paper triangles until you have a couple of hundred to start with.

I made the large ones for the skirt bottom section, medium triangles for the top of the skirt and very small ones for the top section.

Step 4: Sewing Paper Onto Skirt

Picture of Sewing Paper Onto Skirt

Starting at the bottom hem of skirt, place a paper triangle on the hem and pin with the point down.

Set the machine on the longest stitch length.

Step 5: Yellow Pages Border

Picture of Yellow Pages Border

If you choose to include the yellow pages in your dress, place a few rows of yellow pages into the dress.

Step 6: Add More Rows

Picture of Add More Rows

continue layering and adding rows, working your way toward the waist.

Step 7: Finish Skirt

Picture of Finish Skirt

Stitch the wire around the bottom edge of skirt on the inside near hem. This will help the skirt to flare out.

Step 8: Making the Bodice Foundation

Picture of Making the Bodice Foundation

Use a store bought pattern for a corset. Cut up a couple of old cotton shirts for the foundation and stitch together. The color doesn't matter, this is going to be hidden by the folded pages.

Step 9: Bodice

Picture of Bodice

Begin working at the top of the bodice and layer triangles so they point to the top. Continue adding rows and work your way toward the waist.

Step 10: Waistband

Picture of Waistband

Sew a 3" wide belt out of an old cotton shirt. Fold pages into triangles and stitch onto the belt.

Step 11: Sew Top to Skirt

Picture of Sew Top to Skirt

Pin the top of the dress to the skirt section. Hand stitch in place. Sew the zipper to a 2" wide strip of fabric covered with phone book pages. Hot glue this covered zipper to the back opening of dress.

Step 12: The Finished Dress

Picture of The Finished Dress

Now isn't that cute? This is not a dress you'd want to wear out to the movies but it's different for sure and calls for a special occasion.


DoggyMANIA6105 (author)2016-04-26

this is such an extraordinary design so can you where it? ;)

katvanlew (author)DoggyMANIA61052016-04-26

Thank you, yes I put in a zipper so it could be worn but I haven't decided where I'm going to wear it to yet.

Rapturee (author)2016-04-22



tinaciousz (author)2016-03-30

Amazing! Love the way it turned out. :)

DuckTaper (author)2016-03-15

Is there anyway to make it water proof?

Mysterious_Gal (author)DuckTaper2016-03-28

laminate it LOL

katvanlew (author)DuckTaper2016-03-15

I suppose you could cover each individual paper triangle with clear shipping tape before you sew them to the fabric, that would do the trick.

Magzzee (author)2016-03-23

Voted for you, TYSM for the fabulous instructions & GOOD LUCK!

Magzzee (author)2016-03-23

Wow, amazing & very beautiful creation!

thefrenchmaker (author)2016-03-15

Wow ! Class, green, wonderfull ... Working Titan. Next step : Fashion week!

katvanlew (author)thefrenchmaker2016-03-22

It is different for sure! I had fun designing and constructing it.

dawnn.reed (author)2016-03-15

this is the coolest!

katvanlew (author)dawnn.reed2016-03-22


DuckTaper (author)2016-03-15

Thanks! I could just imagine going to a family party and getting water spilled on me

katvanlew (author)DuckTaper2016-03-22

If I were to make another, I'd probably use the shipping tape. It would certainly help it last longer.

Maya W W (author)2016-03-16

That is the most AMAZING dress I have EVER seen! I could just imagine going to Prom in it!!! WOW!!!

katvanlew (author)Maya W W2016-03-22

Thank you! I had fun making it!

sheripres (author)2016-03-22

I voted for this! Absolutely beautiful! Great job and good luck winning!

katvanlew (author)sheripres2016-03-22

Thank you very much for the vote and the kind words!

dawnn.reed (author)2016-03-15

this is the coolest!

wold630 (author)2016-03-15

Here are the words that are running around in my head right now: AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL, UNBELIEVABLE, FASCINATING, INCREDIBLE, WONDERFUL, AWESOME, GORGEOUS, ETC. :)

How long did this take you to complete?

katvanlew (author)wold6302016-03-15

Thank you for the kind words. I've been working on it for a couple of months, off and on. I have no idea how many hours it took.

About This Instructable




Bio: I have been sewing and crafting for several years, my children are grown so now I have lots of time to be creative. I enjoy ... More »
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