How it Started

When I was 12, I found a blank ledger book. It was a treasure beyond treasure to me. I debated and debated about what to do with it - it had to be something special. Finally I decided to make a list of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see in my life and then cross them off when I had accomplished them. At first they were simple things, but soon I was adding dramatic things, impossible things, but things still worth dreaming about. Oddly enough, putting them on the list somehow made them attainable. I have kept the book and updated the list my entire life. Here is the story behind some of the entries - successes and failures, embarrassing and proud moments, laughter and tears - the ridiculous to the sublime!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sew a Wedding Dress - DID IT

Twice!  First I sewed my daughter's dress. I had sewn theater costumes, and I had sewn her prom, homecoming, and beauty pageant gowns so she had a margin of faith in my abilities. The dress she wanted had a long train that was a single strip of fabric from her shoulder to the hem - I merged three different patterns to get the final design. We had to move all of the furniture out of the living room so I could lay out the fabric on the floor to cut it. It had 20 covered buttons up the back, an off-the-shoulder bodice covered in lace and tulle, and it had what my daughter referred to as the "butt bow" in the back.  The project was not without a panic moment when the bodice didn't fit and I had to do a redesign or cut out a completely new dress. I solved the problem by adding a"V-shaped" insert to the back and making a Y of the covered buttons to hide the fact the insert was added later.  It looked gorgeous and no one ever knew it wasn't designed that way. She was so beautiful in it, it still makes me cry to look at pictures.  Her two little girls love the photos and truly believe their momma is a princess.

My second wedding dress was for my daughter-in-law to be.  I'd never sewed anything for her before, so I have to give her a lot of credit for her confidence in her future mother-in-law.  That took guts! I was really honored that she asked me. The dress was one-of-a-kind. It had a lace-up, bustier bodice trimmed with gold lame' and a gold lame' split skirt over the satin skirt.  When it was done, the lame' wouldn't lay flat, so my sister and I spent a week sewing tiny beads and sequins in a border down the front and around the hem to give it enough weight to float just right.

I come from a long line of wedding dress seamstresses and I'm including a couple of photos of our family heirloom gowns.  The cream satin dress to the right was made by my grandmother for my mother and was also worn by my aunt, my sister and myself (that's me getting married at age 12 - okay, I was a bit older than that, but looking at the photo, I understand why everyone thought I was 12.)   Family legend is that the lace on the edge of the veil was from my great-grandmother's petticoat, but that has never been confirmed. I'm pretty sure it's true because my grandmother was kind of embarrassed to talk about it. She was the Reuse-Recycling Queen before it became popular. The dress is carefully packed away waiting for one of our girls to wear it.  

The navy blue one I'm modeling here was my great-grandmother's wedding dress worn in 1901. It was considered a traveling suit. The skirt is complete with horsehair lining, and the bodice is hand beaded with sequins and seed beads - she made it herself.  It's a bit too big for me, we had to pin it up! The hat has an ostrich feather wrapped around the brim. The dress is in remarkable condition and could be worn today.
Here she is wearing it for her wedding portrait.  She was a short, stout, no-nonsense woman! (Kinda looks like Great-Grandpa was related to Tom Seleck, doesn't it?!)


bikinbabe said...

Oh, what fun with all the wedding dresses! Good times and great memories, Sister....

Kathy Gleaves said...

Can't wait to work on your two girl's dresses! Maybe Ash will wear the traveling suit - that would be so cool.

Post a Comment