I've always loved my mom's wedding dress. When I was a child she would show me wedding pictures, tell me all about wedding dress shopping with her mom, how she had a hard time picking between two dresses, and finally picked this one.
Pale Pink, with lace details, some sequins and pearl beads, a sweetheart neckline, and fantastic puffed sleeves. When I was 8 or 9 she took the dress out of the sealed box it the dry cleaner had put it in after the wedding and tried it on again. She let me try it on too, even though it completely engulfed me at the time! My brother and I also enjoyed wearing her wedding veil and admiring the wedding finery in general. After that, every few years she would pull out the dress and try it on on her anniversary, or just because.
Usually the dress couldn't be buttoned up, as my mom had been incredibly skinny when she got married. However, in later years, after I fell down the historical costuming rabbit hole, I would lace my mom into one of my corsets whenever she would pull out the dress, and then we could generally get the dress buttoned.
Upon my engagement my mom asked if I would like to use part of her dress in mine. She's saved her dress and kept it in good condition with the thought of passing it down to my sister and I to wear or use as we saw fit when we got married. Thus, when I pulled out all of my wedding dress fabric the day after I got engaged, we pulled out my mom's dress too so I could choose what part of it I would like to use in my dress.
The pale pink color of my mom's dress came from a pink lining that showed through the translucent white outer layer. Thus all the lace and decoration was white, not pink, so any of it would work very well with my white and cream dress materials. I just had to decided what I wanted to use!
After much admiration and discussion between my mother, my sister, and I, we decided I could use any part of the bodice I wanted to embellish my dress, and we would save the skirt for my sister to use when she gets married one day.
The skirt is absolutely beautiful! A full circle skirt, gathered in at the waist, featuring lace cut-outs down the length and a lace boarder all around the bottom.
I love it, and look forward to using it one day in my sister's wedding dress - if she wants and permits me to make that of course! (If I hadn't already had a detailed plan in mind for my wedding dress skirt, I certainly would have been tempted to just use the full skirt off my mom's dress and make my own bodice.)
That settled, what parts of the bodice would I use?
On that first night, I decided for sure that I would use the lace appliques off the top of my mom's magnificent puffed sleeves.
I would probably use some of the other appliques off my mom's bodice as well, but I would wait until I had my dress mostly assembled to decided what else to embellish it with.
A couple months later, after weeks of working on my wedding dress, that day came! I pulled my mom's wedding dress box off the shelves in the basement and opened it up.
It was time to begin destructing my mom's dress - and my emotions couldn't quite handle it.
I enlisted my brother to do a photo shoot of my mom in her wedding dress before a single piece of lace was removed.
We, of course, have my parents' wedding pictures, and snap shots of my mom in the dress from the various times she's pulled it out and tried it on over the years, but I wanted to make sure we had detail shots of all the little things that made this dress special before anything was altered.
I was very happy my mom and brother were willing to oblige me in this!
It was such fun to see my mom swirling and posing in the dress!
And my brother did a fantastic job capturing the details!
The photo shoot took place in the yard which would shortly become my wedding venue - an extra special fun detail!
Once we'd decided the dress had been properly documented, it was time. The seam ripper came out.
The original plan had been to go ahead and separate the skirt from the bodice and then I could use whatever I wanted from the bodice. But I couldn't bring myself to do that just yet.
The complete disassembly of the dress can wait a few years until my sister gets married. Meanwhile, I just removed the lace appliques I wanted from the bodice.
The large appliques at the tops of the sleeves got sewn onto the tops of my sleeves.
The perfect finishing touch to my already incredibly detailed and time consuming lace sleeves!
Then I chose to take some swirl appliques off the back of the bodice. . .
And use them to frame the buttons and finish off the lace collar on the back of my dress.
With that, my mom's dress was packed back in its box. Saved for future admiration and use.
And my wedding dress was one step closer to being ready to wear on my wedding day!
If you've missed any part of my wedding dress series, you can catch up here:
Heirloom Lace Details:
And the Undergarments: