Sunday, August 29, 2021

My Mom's 1992 Pink Puffed Sleeve Wedding Dress

 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:

Sunday, August 15, 2021

My Husband's Grandmother's 1952 Wedding Dress

 When my mother-in-law and her sister found out my husband had plans to purpose to me they hatched a plan. In the back of my mother-in-law's sister's closet hung their mother's 1952 lace and tulle wedding dress.

Knowing I intended to make my own wedding dress, they decided to offer this dress to me and ask if I wanted to use some of the material from it in my wedding gown. Neither of them had chosen to wear the dress when they got married, and their daughters were already married and had no interest in the dress. Thus, wanting the dress to be used and loved, they gave it into my possession. 

I was, of course, very honored by this gift, and promised to put her to good use! That said, this wedding dress is a beautiful example of it's time and I didn't want to alter her too much and cause irreparable damage. I would have to figure out a way to honor my mother-in-law and her sister's request to use part of this dress in my dress, while following my own desire to preserve this dress so future generations can admire and study her.

The dress features a beautiful lace bodice and sleeves with an illusion tulle neckline.

There is a basque waist in the front, and both the front and back of the bodice are fitted with darts coming up from the waist.

Lace scallops are applied to the sweetheart neckline, over top of the tulle that goes all the way up to the throat.

The back of the dress is closed with a sturdy metal zipper.

The illusion neckline closes at the base of the neck with a metal hook and eye.

The lace is underlined with a synthetic taffeta on the bodice and a stiff netting on the sleeves.

The lace itself appears to be a galleon type lace, about 6" wide, with strips of lace placed together edge to edge to get enough width for the bodice.

The skirt consists of two layers of netting over synthetic taffeta.

The top layer of netting is pretty stiff and hemmed with narrow horse hair braid. The lower layer of netting is softer and has stretched out from hanging in a closet for nearly 70 years.

The front features five rows of the same galleon lace as the bodice running vertically down the length of the skirt.

This is probably my favorite feature of the whole dress!

The lace is absolutely beautiful, and the way it's spaced out gives the skirt a very light and airy look.

Unfortunately, the lace was starting to come unsewn from the netting at the bottom of the skirt and the horse hair braid this layer was hemmed with was disintegrating.

Since there was already some damage here, I decided this was where I would pull some material from to use in my dress. I could trim a few inches off this layer without harming the integrity of the dress overall. It would still look like the same dress when I was done with it.

That decided, I looked at the lace motifs and figured out how I wanted to incorporate them into my dress design.

Then I cut a few inches off the bottom of this skirt layer, carefully cutting around the lace motifs so I could make the most of them on my dress.

Once this strip of material was cut off the bottom of the dress, I seam ripped the lace free from the netting and horsehair braid and ironed each piece of lace flat.

I then cut the large pieces of lace into smaller pieces - individual flowers and leaves and swirls - to sew onto my dress.

This lace was much more ivory than any of the other laces in my dress (which I would classify as a soft white), so I decided to sew these little lace motifs directly to my silk twill, which was only a shade or two lighter than this lace.

I scattered these pieces of lace across the front of my skirt where the lace over skirt was the shortest.

The pieces got pinned in place, moved and adjusted, until I was satisfied with the overall arrangement. 

Then each individual motif was securely handsewn to the silk.

I love the look of cascading lace on my skirt!

I only wound up using four of the five pieces of lace I removed from my husband's grandmother's dress in my dress. So that fifth piece of lace can be saved for a future heirloom sewing project or something. 

Since I had the piece of lace handy on my wedding day, my photographer included it in some of the pictures of our wedding mementos, which I just love!

As for the dress itself. I bought an archival box and acid free tissue paper to store it in, so it can be safely saved for future generations to admire!

I am beyond honored by this gift my husband's mom and aunt gave me. It was an amazing "Welcome to the family" gesture, and I hope I did it justice!