Broward County

South Floridian hopes to wipe the floor with her competition in toilet paper wedding dress contest

Fort Lauderdale resident Carol Touchstone (right) with her toilet paper wedding dress on model Claire Rowan.
Fort Lauderdale resident Carol Touchstone (right) with her toilet paper wedding dress on model Claire Rowan. Courtesy Carol Touchstone

Here comes the bride. All dressed in...toilet paper?

Yes, that’s right. Quilted Northern, to be exact. Although, you’d never know it, because the 10 dresses chosen as national finalists for the 13th Annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest are so ornate they could pass as haute couture. Only upon close examination is it evident that the gowns are made almost entirely of toilet tissue, duct tape, hot glue and thread.

Carol Touchstone of Fort Lauderdale is among the finalists for the third time — she finished third in 2013 and 2015, taking home prizes of $2,500. She’s on a roll (pun intended). This time, she’s hoping for the $10,000 grand prize, which also includes having your design on display at a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.

Her dress this year is a vintage-style creation replete with 135 tassels, over 6,500 twisted strips of toilet paper and 6,000 pearl beads. She used 34 rolls of two-ply Quilted Northern Ultra-Soft (this year’s sponsor) and also two rolls of “vintage peach” Quilted Northern that she found online for the ’20s-style headpiece. She separates the plies to construct the dress and mixes some strips with glue to make a papier mache-like material.

One of her greatest challenges was keeping her new kitten away from the toilet paper.

Touchstone says she spent six hours a day for nearly two months cutting, twisting and gluing strips of toilet tissue, and “pulled a few all-nighters,’’ to get the dress made in time. The contest, hosted by Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com, got several hundred entries. The Top 10 were invited to New York on July 20 for a fashion show where the three top prizes will be awarded.

“It’s a great conversation starter,” said Touchstone, 65, who owned a vintage clothing store for many years and dabbled in fashion and interior design while working in commercial real estate. “I tell people I make wedding dresses out of toilet paper, and they say, ‘Oh, OK,’ and then I show them the photographs and next thing I know, there are four or five people gathered around.”

She first entered the contest five years ago, after making a few dresses out of regular paper for a fashion shoot. She had gotten to know local photographers from her years at the clothing store, and she got part-time work as a stylist for fashion shoots. For one of them, she designed paper dresses with the skylines of New York, Miami, Tokyo and Paris. For the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, she created a dress made out of film. And, she once made a dress out of pizza boxes.

So, she decided to try toilet paper, and really enjoyed it.

“I’ve never liked to sew, but I love fashion design, and I like to work with paper,” she said. “It’s a creative release for me.”

Shipping the dresses to New York isn’t easy. Two years ago, Touchstone’s dress featured a poufy skirt covered in tissue paper flowers. Rather than find a box for it, she drove it. This year, to protect all the tassels, she got wax paper squares used to separate hamburger patties and wrapped each tassel between two squares and stapled it.

The contest began 13 years ago as the brainchild of sisters Susan Bain and Laura Gawne as a way to generate publicity for their wedding website, cheap-chic-weddings.com.

Touchstone says she has had brides ask if they can wear her tissue-paper creations down the aisle, but she explains to them that they can’t sit down in the dress, as it tears easily. Also, it will disintegrate if it rains. But, it could come in handy if the wedding guests get weepy and want to wipe their tears.

Fans are invited to vote online for their favorite toilet paper wedding dresses.

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