What We Do With The Dresses

By far, the most frequently asked question regarding our paper dresses is this: “What do you do with the dresses after she wears them?” Or some other variation like “How do you preserve the dresses?” or “Do you have a closet filled with paper dresses?”.

And the answer usually shocks most people.

After wearing them for approximately 5 minutes, Mayhem takes them off, and we tear the tape off and put every bit of the paper we can salvage back into our paper stash. And then we reuse that paper again and again and again until we no longer can. Scraps of paper we can no longer use end up at the recycling center here in our community. FYI – the Scotch brand packing tape we buy in bulk comes back off of construction paper VERY easily. With tissue paper, rather than attempting to tear the tape off, I usually cut it off to minimize the damage and maximize reusability. And a recent find is that masking tape comes off of tissue paper with relative ease if we de-construct the dress right away.

This has been the way we’ve operated from the beginning. Until recently.

This project runway replica dress was among the first that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to part with:



So we taped it up on the wall. And started a small gallery. A little bit for inspiration and a lotta bit to remind us that we can do anything we set our minds to. We currently have about 10 dresses taped to the walls of our “design studio”.


If you’ve ever visited our FAQ page, you may have seen me mention that what we’re doing really has a whole lot more to do with the time I get to spend with Mayhem, rather than wearing the dresses. And that’s the absolute truth. We spend WAY more time making them than she ever dreams of wearing them (except for all versions of Anna’s coronation dress – the kid is OBSESSED with all things Frozen and wears those until they are in SHREDS).

But we’re pretty much out of display space at this point. Unless we take Mayhem’s advice and “Let’s just get a bigger house with bigger walls!”.

Duh! Now who wants to give a four year old a mortgage? Or a job? Preferably in the reverse order 😉

So we’re back to de-constructing as we go. Or swapping out old display dresses for new ones. I’ve had a few people suggest that we should auction off some of our dresses for a cause (or multiple causes) and I’m entertaining that idea. I’m not sure how much interest there would really be, but if some good stuff could happen from what we’re doing, then that’s absolutely a train we’d like to take a ride on.

We’ll see. But for now, hopefully that clues you in to what we’ve found is the most burning question about what we do.


  1. Cindy k says

    I think the dresses should be sold or auctioned. Maybe framed then sold. This is art. Keep the money for college or donate to children’s causes. Who wouldn’t want one of these darling creations on their wall? Darling.

  2. Elisha says

    I can definitely see some of Miss Mayhem’s creations being auctioned off for charity. You should seriously consider it.

    • Mayhem's Mama says

      That would be fun! Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of floor space to spare either. Not until we get that bigger house she wants 😉

  3. says

    I love the idea of the dress forms for displaying your creations (though logistically that might be difficult with them being made out of paper) and then auctioning off for a children’s charity–or maybe some cause that ties into kids with severe allergies? (Is there such a thing?)

    Glad to know the yellow dress was salvaged—and the Kristin Dress, too, duh 😉

  4. Jess says

    Love her dresses, love her style! What a great mom you are for making it possible for her. I would love to be able to buy a dress to display or better yet a pattern, template or tutorial to make one with my little girl! I love the idea of a college fund for her :)

  5. says

    My daughter Hayden and I have been making paper dresses, too, inspired by you and Mayhem. We keep/display our favorites on hangers (although a few of the construction paper ones with full skirts hold their shape and stand on their own) and recycle the rest, as well.

    Since Mayhem’s creations have gotten so much attention, I agree with the other comments about auctioning some of them off, if it is okay with Mayhem. Sometimes an artist gets attached to her work.

  6. Jennifer Spilman says

    If she ever makes a wedding dress, keep that one and frame it. On her wedding day, give it to her. :) I’m a hopeless romantic.

  7. says

    Seeing her dresses on the wall made me think of the book, The Hundred Dresses. Have you ever read it? I found it at my in-laws’ house last fall, and it has just stuck with me. I love seeing all of your creations. Thanks for sharing with us.

  8. Aliya says

    I LOVE that you are starting auctions to go to the cause of the food allergies. We only deal with the simplest of food allergies here (dye, bananas/avocados). But until you mentioned it, I didn’t even know FARE existed. So not only are you giving them some $$ from the auction but you’re also providing a lot of awareness. And that. is awesome.

    Obviously you’ve every right to do whatever you want with the money, but I would consider possibly doing 70% for FARE and 30% for an education fund for this amazing girl. Some day she’s going to be headed to a fantastic university whether it be to study her fashion skills or to study another interest.

    I feel like you could sell every one of the creations as artwork.

    Just my thoughts. I love that you spend this time with her even if it’s not anywhere that you would have imagined yourself to be. :)

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