I made this original Queen of Hearts dress made out of cards for a carnival party in Rome, where I was living at the time. I had done something like this before, but not as complicated. The nice thing is that it looks impressive but is very easy to make with easy to find material. I just bought 6 packs of playing cards (didn’t use all of them, but it’s good to be on the safe side) and a whole lot of staples. I started with the ring around my middle, because it’s important to get that one right for size. If you do this make sure it’s not too tight – it would look better but generally a dress like this already immobilises you enough. I punched holes in the last cards on either side so that I could close the thing with a piece of string.

After the first ring is done, put it on your floor/table upside down and start stapling the rest of the skirt to it! You can make the bulb shape by bending outwards one or more layers of cards. For the top bit I just stapled some stuff together, but I didn’t trust that enough (you move too much, too much danger of spilt drinks dissolving the cards) to not wear anything underneath.

The party was definitely a success, I got interesting reactions already on the tram going there and at the place itself everyone was very enthusiastic. The dress also had some downsides though: it was wide and pretty much inflexible, so not great for moving through crowds, and I had stapled it from the inside out so there were the ends of the staples latching on to everyone else’s clothes. Luckily for me they were also all in costume and so not too worried about losing a couple of threads here and there, but next time I’ll definitely do that differently.

I had another dress in my bag so I took the dress off at some point when I was tired of not being able to sit, which meant I could dance but it also meant that people were asking me if I’d just arrived and if I had seen that person with the card dress. Oh well. I did take the thing home, and my photographer flatmate made these photos on our roof terrace. When I moved away from Rome I sadly had to leave the dress behind but as far as I’m aware she has refused to throw it out so far and is convinced that I’ll come back and take it with me that time. I think I’ll just make a new one.