When you see Lindsay Hinz’s brilliantly white wedding gown with layers upon layers of ruffles, accessorized with an intricate fishnet headpiece and a bouquet that resembles a single rose, it’s quite hard to believe that she made it all using only toilet paper.
“It took me two and a half months to make,” she told QNS. “And that was pretty much every day after work from like six o’clock until midnight, and then sometimes a few hours before work in the morning and then every weekend.”
Hinz, a Broadway costume technician who’s worked on productions like “Hamilton,” was one of the top 12 finalists out of 1,500 entries at this year’s 15th Annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest, presented by Charm Weddings and Quilted Northern.
Her dress, along with the other finalists’ gowns, were featured in a nationally televised fashion show event on Monday.
“I didn’t place but it was a really, really cool experience to be recognized for my work and to have it showcased throughout the country,” Hinz said.
But this wasn’t the first time the Long Island City resident participated in the competition.
She first entered the contest — which has a grand prize of $10,000 — two years ago after seeing an article about it in a Facebook group called Costume People.
“I looked at the pictures and I was like, ‘Oh that’s really cool. I could do that,’” Hinz said.
She then admitted that although she had a fun time back then and even made it to the top 10, it ended up being a lot of work so she decided to skip out on the following year’s contest.
“But then, when I found out that they were going to make a TV show and that it was going to be a much bigger deal this year, I decided to give it one more try,” she said.
Hinz explained that as a Broadway costume technician, her job entails putting together costumes that were already designed by other team members.
As a seamstress by trade who studied at the University of Virginia, this comes more naturally to her than designing something from scratch — but she thinks it’s also “fun to have creative freedom.”
“One thing that I love about the contest is you have the freedom to make your own choices,” she said.
And that she did. As a self-proclaimed “movie buff,” she took inspiration from a wedding dress that appeared in a popular movie franchise.
“I was like, ‘OK, what wedding dresses do I remember from movies that [have] really stuck with me?’” Hinz said. “And one that I really thought of was Katniss Everdeen’s wedding dress in ‘Hunger Games.’”
She used 56 rolls of Quilted Northern Ultra Soft and Strong, and spent about 100 hours creating the ruffles in the skirt portion alone.
“I essentially created fabric out of toilet paper, so it’s like rolling toilet paper out and stitching it together one panel at a time and creating yardage of fabric and then I can make a dress the way that I know how to make a dress,” Hinz said.
Hinz, who lives with her boyfriend in what she says is a “really tiny apartment” in Long Island City, said that different pieces of the dress were stored in several places throughout their home in the months leading up to the fashion show.
“The skirt is absolutely ginormous and so it basically took up one of the rooms in our apartment,” she said, laughing.
Although she didn’t win the contest this year either, she has fond memories of creating her toilet paper dresses.
Hinz reminisced about the time she walked to Astoria Park, where she took pictures to submit to the contest, wearing the first toilet paper dress she ever created.
“I had people like on the sidewalk yelling, ‘Congratulations!’ And there was a bus full of children on their way to school being like, ‘Oh my god, look at her dress!’ she laughed. “And no one knew that it’s toilet paper!”
This year was no different, when she went to a friend’s apartment lobby to take the photos of her new creation.
Hinz said, “I was there, posing for pictures, and people were leaving their apartments being like, ‘Oh my god, that’s incredible, congratulations!’”