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Basak Yurtoglu’s self-designed cocktail dress has a sweet, playful vibe; fitted at the bodice, flaring out in a tutulike skirt, accessorized by a saucy headpiece reminiscent of a tiny pillbox hat. It rustles as its wearer moves, like old silk; its retro black-and-white print looks terrific with red shoes. And it’s made entirely from newspaper — sewn, stapled, rolled, glued. (Look closely and you’ll see a photo of J.K. Rowling on the front, from a Seattle Times news roundup.)

It’s the kickoff for our DIY contest, in which we’re asking you, readers, to make something from your Sunday paper. (Or any day — but Sunday will give you the most raw material.) Yurtoglu, a student entering her second year in the School of Apparel Design & Development at Seattle Central College (SCC), was the first to take up the challenge, and she’s got some advice for those who might follow.

Though paper clothing was a brief fashion craze in the 1960s, when the Scott Paper Co. issued a line of disposable fashions as a marketing stunt (as of last week, you could buy a vintage never-worn Scott “Paper Caper” dress for $499 on eBay), there’s a reason most of those garments quickly disappeared.

Fabric can be touched, shaped, draped, stretched; newspaper, by contrast, rips — and Yurtoglu had to abandon her first version of the dress when the bodice tore as she tried it on. “It could not be very fitted,” she said of her design, which quickly evolved into a two-piece outfit. The whole process “was a discovery for me.”

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At first, Yurtoglu thought of doing something with flower shapes, but that seemed too obvious (newspaper flowers are all over the Internet), and she rejected a pleated skirt as too easy.

Eventually, she constructed a seamed, fitted strapless bodice (sewn with her sewing machine) held together in the back with Velcro, and a separate underskirt to which she attached “maybe 50” newspaper cones, each of which was rolled, glued and stapled.

By braiding long pieces of newspaper, she created the finishing touches: trim at the neckline, a belt and that jaunty hat — or, more precisely, a fascinator.

Yurtoglu, who moved to Seattle with her husband from Turkey three years ago, learned to sew before entering the SCC program; she’s now in the midst of learning advanced techniques in patternmaking, draping and construction as well as computer applications, fashion history and textile study.

She hopes to eventually become a designer of her own couture line. While it likely won’t include paper dresses, Yurtoglu nonetheless enjoyed our challenge.

“Don’t give up easily!” she advises fellow first-timers. “Try different ideas. See what you can do.”

Moira Macdonald: or 206-464-2725

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