Crafts · Family History · Fashion · Sewing

What do I do with this Wedding Dress?

One of the things I inherited from my sister, who died just before the booster shots came out, was her wedding gown from her first wedding when I was her flower girl. Janice’s dress was beautiful, heavy silk with lace applique and hand-beaded trim, ordered from the Atlanta Macy’s bridal shop, which was a big deal around 1970. Janice knew fashion–she had worked at the Joann Shop, Marietta’s premiere boutique all through high school and while studying for her education degree at GA State.

My flower girl dress was “hot pink” not the faded pastel of this old photo. Mama ordered fabric to match Janice’s bridesmaids so my grandmother could make my dress. (You can read about Grandmother Irene and her Sewing Machine elsewhere on the blog.) My veil, which Grandmother made as well, flew up the entire time, frustrating my mother to no end–I guess it needed to be a little longer. Both my daughters enjoyed wearing my pink flower girl dress and it is still in perfect condition for the next little girl to play dress-up.

But really, what do you do with a wedding dress, especially a 50-year old wedding dress that has very sentimental value, but takes up a lot of space and ultimately, is not your own? It required lots of thought and maybe a bit of storytelling.

When Mr. H. and I were engaged, Mama (with Janice’s permission) got the dress in its preservation box out of her attic for me to try on. It didn’t work. Janice was tall so had ordered extra length, yet I’m petite and shorten everything. Also, the “preserved” dress hadn’t been cleaned properly, so dark fruit punch stains were all over the front panel–attic storage hadn’t helped. I went shopping for my own dress. Janice picked up her dress from Mama’s and had it cleaned, but not preserved. I think she had planned to make a quilt with it.

Lace, seed pearls and some damage

So I was grieving my sister, while sorting through her many patterns and lots of lovely fabric, and wondering what to do with Janice’s dress, which was beautiful silk Dupioni, in much better shape than when I tried it on, but it took up a lot of space. Meanwhile, my younger daughter and Janice’s niece, Lucy, became engaged to her longtime beau Alex. “Long Time Coming” was sort of their wedding theme, referring to their being friends since high school band and, of course, the long time they’ve been dating.

It was hard to schedule event space, as all the rescheduled 2020 and 2021 brides were finally having their days. Once we had a January 2023 date and place, and I knew there would be flower girls (including my granddaughter), I asked Lucy about using Aunt Jan’s dress to sew the flower girl dresses. It was a lot to consider: one extra-length A-line silk dress and three flower girls needing dresses: a toddler, a first-grader and a fifth grader. Would the narrow dress be enough for the two smaller dresses and a bodice for the fifth grader? My other daughter Sarah, who’s been in several weddings had the idea we went with: the fifth grader would be a “Senior Flower Girl” in a dusty rose custom dress from Azazie, coordinating with the bridesmaids, who wore burgundy. I would make dresses for the two younger girls from Janice’s dress, coordinating with the sash color in dusty rose or as close to that as I could find.

It was difficult to find a pattern that would work for both the toddler and the first grader, with no single patterns spanning toddler and young child sizes. Baby and toddler patterns are sized by age, height and weight, while sizes 3-6 are height and body measurement-based, and a bit narrower through the middle, as the child is growing more in height and not wearing diapers. Also, it was difficult to find a style that would work with heavy silk Dupioni, most dressy toddler patterns were for ruffled lightweight fabric. As both girls were tall and thin (granddaughter wore 12 months and under in pants, yet was 24 months plus in height), I bought two patterns I thought would work in the 3-6 size , Simplicity 9503 and 1211 for Lucy to choose from, planning that I would size down the smaller dress. Lucy chose 1211, with the plain neckline and simple pleated skirt of view A, with sleeves and contrasting waist tie like view F. We agreed that a mid-calf or ankle length would be desirable if there were enough fabric; long just isn’t good for girls that small.

I was so happy when we had a future decided for Janice’s dress. I was glad to dispose of the grubby preservation box that had been in Mama’s attic and looking forward to all the sewing, but cutting up the dress would be hard.

The Rehearsal Dinner Dress and Sewing Plans

Rehearsal Dinners should be fun! All of the close family and the wedding party have met and it’s time to relax a little bit before the big day. I think the Bride’s dress for the rehearsal dinner should be comfortable, easy to move in or even dance if she wants, with a special detail to…

4 thoughts on “What do I do with this Wedding Dress?

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