For most prom-goers, the last-minute plights of prom planning are defined by what you’d expect at age 18. The date. The friends. The pictures. The shoes. The outfit.
But in the final days going into prom, Marciel Rodriguez, a senior at Riverside-Brookfield High School, was worried about attaching the last few pieces of metal and yarn to her dress.
That’s because Rodriguez’s dress was made entirely from pop can tabs.
“I started this dress about two years ago,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t know it was going to be a dress – I kind of thought it would be a belt or a skirt or something, and eventually it just became a dress.”
Rather than doing extensive sketching for the project, Rodriguez said she drew inspiration from YouTube videos.
“They showed different ways of attaching pop tabs like chain mail,” she said. “I figured that instead of using metal, I could probably find some way to use yarn to crochet it and put it all together, so it wouldn’t have as much metal in it.”
The dress, which weighs 6.1 pounds, has 75 rows of tabs that Rodriguez crocheted together with yarn. She also included a layer of tight elastic under the dress to keep all 6,075 tabs molded to the proper shape. After completing the project, Rodriguez attached the four straps at the top of the dress, which are also made out of yarn.
“It’s really constricting, actually,” she said. “I’ve never worn a corset, but I think that’s what it would be like.”
Because she chose to weave the tabs together with a different material than what she saw in the YouTube videos, Rodriguez admits that she had difficulty approaching the project.
“When I first started the project, I had a hard time figuring out how I was going to do it,” she said.
Rodriguez also faced the challenge of cleaning and detaching the sharp parts of each tab.
This year’s metallic gown is not the first time Rodriguez has experimented with alternative materials for her formalwear. Last year, she made her homecoming dress out of Capri Sun juice pouches.
“I saw someone make a wallet out of Capri-Suns on YouTube,” she said. “And I thought that was so cool that you could sew them together, so I figured I’d try it.”
She attended RBHS prom on May 3 with a friend, who wasn’t forgotten in her pop can tab crafting.
“I made him a matching tie,” she said with a smile.