Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2nd life for the gown

In years past, a young bride held onto her wedding gown, carefully packing and preserving the white innocence for its next appearance - hoping her daughter someday would want to wear it for her own wedding. I've been doing bridal alterations and custom work for over 20 years, and only once did I have a bride come to me with her mother's gown.
My own gown sits in its breathable garment bag, along with the new one I made for my daughter's 2008 wedding.

Those gowns are given new life when the bride becomes a mother, and chooses to showcase her precious new baby as she's christened, wearing a new gown reincarnated from the old. I wrote about being asked early this year to make one of these in this post, which led another young mother to contact me for her daughter's christening (it does seem to be mothers of little girls who share this vision - the Edwardian image of a boy in a gown appears a bit too passe for today).

My client sent this photo of her gown, asking me to create a simple gown with just a bit of sparkle for her daughter's July baptism. She loved the images I'd shown on my earlier blog post, but was drawn to the unembellished satin underdress more than the beaded lace pinafores.

What I had to work with - embroidered and beaded satin
There was a lot of satin in the back skirt of the dress that I was able to use for most of the baby's gown. Carefully positioning the front skirt pattern piece on the gown skirt front allowed me to use the beaded embroidery as little tendrils cascading asymmetrically as on the original gown. I didn't have to use either the beaded bodice, or front overlay with the beading along the edge, or the lower train with its more heavily beaded design.
The rebirth, with a little tucking on the bonnet
Positioning the pleats on the front skirt proved to be a bigger challenge than I anticipated. I wanted the tendrils of embroidery to float over the skirt, without getting buried inside the pleats. I'd rather not say how many times those pleats were undone and refolded.
Although the bridal gown didn't have any buttons at the zipper, three had been added for the bustle. I harvested them for the closure at the back of the baby's dress.
Cutting the pattern pieces from the gown's satin and underlining as one allowed me to line the christening gown with the underlining fabric. It's always tough for me to make the first cut into a bridal gown - and I'm not at all certain I could do it to one of my own creations. What's left when I've cut out what's needed for the baby's dress isn't a pretty sight, with portions of the original gown intact and big empty spaces where the petticoat is all you can see. I urge the mothers to not look in the bag at their gowns for a while, but to enjoy the new version in their baby's dresses.

 An heirloom the family can treasure!

1 comment:

  1. This is so beautiful! It would be extremely difficult for me to cut up a beautiful garment, but so worth it when a new, equally beautiful garment is born!