Anyone who watches the fashion design competition "Project Runway" knows that clothing can be made from anything: duct tape, corn husks, even lawn chairs. But for hundreds of crafters every year, toilet paper is the fabric of choice.
Submissions are open for the 11th annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest. Sponsored by Charmin and Cheap Chic Weddings, the contest requires participants to craft a wearable wedding dress out of nothing but Charmin brand toilet paper, glue, tape and needle and thread.
Entries are due by May 12 and will go into an online voting process. The top 10 dresses and their designers will be flown to New York for a live fashion show, where the winners will be chosen by a panel of judges. The panel includes Mara Urshel, co-owner of New York's famed bridal boutique Kleinfeld Bridal, and Mikie Russo from FYI Network's "Mikie Saves the Date."
Entrants this year are competing for one of the best prizes in the history of the competition. In addition to cash prizes for the top three ($10,000, $5,000 and $2,500, respectively), the grand prize design will inspire an actual gown by Kleinfeld.
Call it impossible, but last year's top three winners Susan Brennan, Katrina Chalifoux and Amber Mills have perfected the art. Here are some words of advice from them for those considering entering for the first time:
Do your research: Though making the garment is the majority of the battle, proper preparation will ensure that the design stands above the rest. Mills thumbs through online catalogs of wedding fashion and watches TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" to see what's in style at the moment. Brennan agrees, suggesting contestants look at all of the past entries too.
Think outside the box: "It's all about what your interpretation of a wedding gown is," Mills said, encouraging others to be creative. "Make a list of things that haven't been done and do things that are different." Her first dress was Alice in Wonderland-themed, complete with a toilet paper Mad Hatter's hat.
Layers, layers, layers: The only way toilet paper can be made fabric-like is by layering the panels, Chalifoux said. Layering creates a sturdier product that reacts better to glue, tape or needle and thread. Also, don't line up the perforations on the toilet paper. Doing so will create weak spots.
Give yourself time: According to Brennan, who's taken home the grand prize three times, thinking a winning entry can be completed in a couple of days is futile. "It's going to take longer than you think," she said. Chalifoux estimates she spends nearly 100 hours on each dress.