Paper dresses 2 – Dice Dress for Operetta

17 Feb

I should have been sewing a Barbie dress today – instead, I hatched a plan for a paper dress and then nearly drove myself mad making it. Here it is:


Pixiecollections had left a comment about how much she would like to make a Lady Gaga dress for Catty Noir to wear, and it got me to thinking. I googled lots of pictures of Lady Gaga’s outfits and I noticed how much she likes geometric shapes. Which made me think about a cube skirt. Which made me think about dice. Which made me think about Operetta.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it bloody wasn’t. I’m going to tell you how to make a dress similar to the dress above, but before we start I need to let you know that it is not the simple make that my last paper dress was. This thing took me upwards of a couple of hours – however, you will benefit by my experience as I’m not exactly going to tell you how I did it, but how (in hindsight) I should have done it. Should you choose to take me up on this, yours will undoubtedly fit (and hopefully look) better than mine did, it won’t take you as long (I estimate that it should have taken half to three quarters of an hour) and it won’t be as frustrating. I hope. But it will still be a bit fiddly – be warned.

Another thing for you to think about – paper dresses are fun and I, personally, do not mind that they are one wear only. Because this one is mostly made of white paper, there’s no risk of ink transference and should you choose to make it, there’s no reason why you couldn’t display your doll in it for a while. However, once you take it off, that’s it – it would probably only be fit for the bin. Are you OK with that? Well, lets move on then.

You will need:

* A naked Operetta – I’m using the first-wave doll as she was the first one I found in the doll drawers
* 2 sheets of good-quality thick paper/ thin card (best make it three in case of accidents)
* Masking tape
* Paper glue (like Pritt Stick)
* Sellotape
* Tape measure or ruler
* Black marker pen (and a fine-tipped black gel pen, optional)
* Pencil
* Good sharp scissors (a craft knife might also be useful at some points)
* About 6cm of trim of your choice in an Operetta coordinating colour (red, purple, black, silver)
* A handful of stick-on jewels or sequins, again in Operetta coordinating colours (you should have at least twenty of the same kind in a dark colour)

1. Make a bodice for your Operetta. Cut a piece of paper that is big enough to wrap around her upper torso meet and slightly overlap between her shoulder blades, and long enough to go down to the top of her hips (it won’t meet behind her hips but that doesn’t matter). Fold over the top 2cm or so.

2. Next, wrap it round her body so that the folded-over portion sits above her boobs. Make sure that the top edge is right next to her skin all the way round and not wrinkled – if you’ve done this right, there will be a big curve of paper at the front. This is all according to plan. At the back, secure it with a piece of masking tape.


2. Next, make two vertical cuts from the bottom of the bodice up to just under the point of each boob, like we did when we made the dress for Frankie. Fold these inwards over the middle of the bodice, so that the sides are fitted to her shape. Secure with a bit of masking tape. Next, cut a v into the fold-over, just between her boobs.



3. Because the bodice is only secured with masking tape, it should be pretty easy to undo the piece at the back and take it off her. Do this carefully! Then, colour in the folded-over portion with the black marker pen. Make sure that the black does not go anywhere near the parts of the dress that will touch the plastic the doll is made of, so that there is no risk of ink transferring to your doll – if you wanted, you could glue on a piece of black ribbon or fabric instead. After I finished, I thought that it would have been nice to draw a pattern of some kind on here – musical notes or dice spots or something different. This is why I suggested having a fine-tipped gel pen handy – if you wanted, you could draw them with this, leave the insides white and colour round the outsides of the pattern with black. I think this would look pretty good.

Finished? Right. Get the bodice back on the doll and stick at the back with a small piece of sellotape this time, as we’re not planning on taking it off again.

4. OK, time to make the dice skirt. This is tricky, and it took me two do-overs. The best thing to do is to put your ruler or tape measure next to edge of the paper and make marks every five centimetres. Do this on all sides, then connect them together to make a grid (see next picture).


You now need to cut your flat cube out, it should be four squares long and three wide over one of the sections, making a kind of cross shape. Make sure you cut as straight and true to the line as you can! Going off course a little could make a big difference to the shape of your cube.


Fold along all the lines, inwards (ie towards the side where your pencil marks are, this will be the inside of your cube).

5. Round about now, I made another mistake. At one of the upper corners of the cross, you need to cut a roughly circular hole. At the point where you want the cube to sit on the doll’s upper torso, the doll measures 5cm around. For some reason, I cut a round wedge out of each side that was 2.5 cm deep. DON’T DO IT KIDS! This worked out OK, but a bit too big. You should be cutting round wedges like the ones shown in the picture below, but yours should be about 1 and 3 quarter centimetres deep on each of the three adjoining sides. This should fit a lot better than mine did.


6. Rather than do what I did, which was create the cube and then worry about the bottom opening, it might be an idea to cut the hole for your doll’s legs to fit through first. You are going to take just a bit more than the middle third away from the “arm” of the cross that does not have a circular wedge out of it, I’ve drawn this on my original picture of the flattened cube below:


7. Stick together the edges coloured in blue on the picture below first, then the purple edges second. Use masking tape for this, as its easier to reposition than sellotape if you get it wrong. Make sure that you are sticking them so that the edges are neatly next to one another with no overlap or gaps – this is the really fiddly bit. It helps if you fold the small strips of masking tape in half along their long sides, see second picture below. Then its easier to coax them into place.



8. Put the cube on Operetta at skirt height, so the edge coloured in red on the first picture below is running horizontally down the middle of Operetta’s body. Keeping the same position, flip it upwards so the inside is facing you (like you’re flipping up her skirt). Then stick it on. On the second picture below, you will see that I used masking tape for this. Don’t follow my lead in this, either. Masking tape will not hold the cube firmly enough to the bodice and it will become detached while you are messing with it – I had to stick mine back on multiple times, and it got harder and harder as the cube gained its shape.




9. Build up the rest of the cube now. First, join the two lines shown in yellow in the first picture below – this will seal Operetta into the Cube. Hopefully after this, it should be pretty self-evident what sticks where. Its best to do the side where her legs come out (where you cut a wedge measuring about a third of the length of the square) last I think. In the bottom picture below, you can see me assembling Operetta’s cube around her, I found it easiest to hold her upside down, gripping her between my knees, so I could see what I was doing. Its a bit undignified for her and you have to be careful of her hair, but as you can’t lay her down flat at this point its the best way I found of doing it.



10. Is your cube all finished? Phew! You can now get a piece of sellotape and stick it, on the outside, at the back of the waist where the cube meets the bodice. Its still going to be rather fragile and easily pulled off, though, so you will have to work carefully from now on.


11. You are probably going to need a belt of some description to cover the join between the edge of the cube and the bodice – it can’t be too thick because it won’t fit right over the awkward join, or so thin that it won’t hide it. I think a piece of lace trim would have looked best, but the only lace trim I could find was black which didn’t look right. I swopped it round several times but in the end I settled for a piece of silver Christmas Tree ribbon, which is edged with wire – this meant I could just twist it together at the back which was handy because sticking it with tape proved quite difficult. I couldn’t get it to sit over the join as I intended though – as your cube should be a better fit at the waist, this should work out better for you.

12. Take your sequins (the 20 that are all the same colour – I used purple ones) and stick them onto the cube faces to make it look like a dice. Because I am just like that, I had to have the right faces in the right places, and I found a useful picture here. I didn’t use Pritt Stick because I couldn’t find mine, all I could find was some fabric glue and it kind of blobbed everywhere. Annoying. Anyway, next WAIT FOR IT TO DRY. I did not do this – not for long enough, anyway, and consequently I knocked the sequins out of place a couple of times.

13. Did you find any stick-on jewels? If so, you can use them to decorate the neckline of your outfit (you might not need to, if you decided to draw a pattern on). Or, you could use sequins again.

You should now be all finished! I added a feather at the waist, but decided it was too costume party and took it off again. I hope you like it, and if you tried it, I hope it worked out OK …





12 Responses to “Paper dresses 2 – Dice Dress for Operetta”

  1. Blackkitty February 18, 2014 at 11:29 pm #

    The dress looks fantastic, my favourite part is the collar! But why didn’t you cut the cube with tabs on the sides for gluing? It seems to me all this tape on the inside is unnecessary headache.

    • barbielea February 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm #

      Thanks πŸ™‚ I thought about this but I decided I’d have to let each side dry before moving on to the next, to prevent slippage, and I didn’t have the patience … The way this make went, I probably would have ended up getting glue all over the place anyway, masking tape was a bit fiddly but at least it was dry πŸ™‚ maybe it would have worked better with glue, I don’t know – I don’t plan on trying it again anytime soon but if I do I’ll give it a go!

  2. Emily Hall February 19, 2014 at 2:14 am #

    Hihi! Been stalking all your posts, but if I comment on old posts I probably won’t see the reply, so I shall ask here: In that last picture, who is the doll second from the far right and on the far right? c: I love your blog. Here is a virtual hug. *hug* You’re awesome.

    • Emily Hall February 19, 2014 at 2:52 am #

      Haha found my own answer back on May 10 of the previous year. ^^

      • barbielea February 19, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

        Confused – I presume you mean about the doll you were looking at? Its all in here somewhere … but always feel free to ask, I don’t mind. If you post a comment, no matter on what post from what time, it appears on my dashboard as a new comment, and I’ll answer it – so don’t worry about that

      • barbielea February 19, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

        PS. Thanks! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ virtual hugs right back atcha, we’re very virtually huggy round here x

  3. Andrea February 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    The cube dress is awesome, as is your bravery to tackle this fiddly project. Hats off to you. Thank you for this tutorial. πŸ˜€

    • barbielea February 19, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Aww, thanks to you too Andrea – you’re so kind x

  4. kewpie83 February 19, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    That looks awesome! Good job!!!! (I could never wrap my head around something like this!!!!)

    • barbielea February 19, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Thanks very much Kewpie! I probably made it sound more complicated than it is – I was still feeling very frustrated when I wrote the post! But because I was working it out as I went along, I had to do some parts over – it would be much simpler and quicker if I did it again, and I hope for anyone who chooses to follow the stages.

  5. Teresa B. February 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    You are amazing πŸ™‚ This is just darling. I can’t wait to try the newspaper dress and now I have another one to try too! You are so crafty!

    • barbielea February 19, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

      Thanks so much Teresa! It’s really nice to hear that you are thinking about trying some of these. I’m getting such nice comments about this post πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I really appreciate it folks!

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