Whoa what a project this was! My husband Jeffrey is the master brewer for Yellow Springs Brewery and recently they rebranded their cans with awesome art by Don Pendleton. I thought these cans would make a beautiful dress for an upcoming juried art show to be held at Rosewood Art Centre. My husband thought I was crazy when I told him my plan with the cans although he still supported me. Once the ball was rolling I thought I bit off more than I could chew!

My first duty was getting recycled cans and with a little help from my friends and within a week beer cans were taking over our house. I washed them and waited a few days for them to dry.


















If my math was correct I would need 100 cans and with kitchen scissors they took 10 minutes to open. I borrowed better tools from a friend. Once the tops and bottoms were off the cans the metal is very thin and easy to work with. I employed my son, Michael to help me open cans. Before I knew I was busting them out fast.

Next I needed a punch with rounded edges so the design would not be dangerous. I found the perfect butterfly punch by Martha Stewart. I liked the 1 1/2″ wide size of the butterfly and it looked heavy-duty.  I could punch 8 butterflies per can with little waste.

I needed a dress design where I could have flat pieces that get under my sewing machine. The style I chose was simple, a circle and a rectangle for the bodice, inspired from a good friend. While the house fell apart I was happily working on my current obsession.

Let’s talk construction and material, I used a thick stretch scuba knit. If I put the butterflies too close together the knit would become stable and no longer stretch. Also, if I overlap the butterflies they would no longer be recognizable. I sewed them all on one by one with a large zig zag stitch and a jeans size 16 needle. I started on the hemline circle, worked my way to the middle until the skirt would no longer fit under my machine and then I worked from the top down. I promised myself if parts were not perfect I would not worry.

Once I got started the dress began to take form.

Here is the dress laid flat.

Modeling is the lovely Lawanda Stonerock owner of lstonerock designs.

Last is the closure of the dress!  I used hammer on grommets in the top section and in the bottom section I had to add a 7″ zipper so there are no peek-a-boo spots. Getting the can dress under the machine at this point was a nightmare.


This Saturday, April 22 is Yellow Spring Brewery’s 4th Anniversary Party.

Behind the scenes~
Glow in the dark embroidery class at Proto Buildbar, all supplies are included! Check it out!

Thank you for reading!

Dream it, Sew it!

Tracy McElfresh

Tracy McElfresh is the owner of Tracy’s Sewing Studio LLC.
Tracy McElfresh