Wedding Dress Transformation to Christening Dress

For those of my friends reading/following my blog, you may not know that my mom passed away in August 2008.  I was very close to her, and miss her dearly.  When my brothers, sister and I were cleaning out the house, I kept my mom’s wedding dress.Last summer one of my nieces got married and recently had a baby girl.  Between the time she told me she was pregnant and the baby arrived, I came across a link on Pinerest.com where someone had “transformed” old dresses, and other vintage items into new clothing, and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could make my great-niece’s christening dress from my mother’s wedding dress.

Mom's Wedding Dress

I realized, gee – I need to find out 1) if my niece planned on having the baby christened, and 2) if she would like me to make the baby’s dress from my mother’s wedding dress.  Well, the answer to both of these questions was yes.  Of course I left her an emotional voicemail message on her cell phone when I called to ask her… and then when she said she would love to have the christening dress made from my mom’s wedding dress – that it would be a way to have her “there, and present in spirit” for the christening, well of course I got all emotional again.

And then… I began to panic; I started questioning whether I could bring myself to dismantle and cut up my mom’s dress.  While it has been boxed and put away ever since we cleaned out the house, the thought of cutting it up felt like I was betraying my mom in some sense.  Her wedding dress was the last “tangible” personal thing that I have, and seeing her dress made me feel closer to her in some way.  Odd… unusual, I know, but that was the way I was feeling.  I was half expecting the heavens to open up and lightnening to hit me when I made that first cut of the material…

Before I dismantled the dress, I wanted to preserve it in digital form.  Yes, we have my parent’s wedding pictures – my brother is the keeper of the wedding book – and this was for me.

I decided that I would document the transformation of my mom’s wedding dress into Sahara’s christening dress that would, hopefully, be kept and handed down through the family throughout the ages.  This process hasn’t been without a lot of tears shed (by me) in memory of my mom, but those tears have been a cleansing of the soul experience, a recognition of the circle of life, both in human form ( my mom may have passed on, but she, and my dad, live on in their great grand daughter, Sahara, because she has part of their DNA in her) as well as in material form (from wedding dress to christening dress).

So here are a few pictures of my mom’s dress.

Bodice with lace. I originally thought I would try to use this for the bodice of the christening dress, in the end, I kept the bodice of the dress intact.

Back and train

Close up of the back. I used some of the buttons for the christening dress.

When I took the dress out of the box and started looking at it closely, I found that the thread had aged to much that the back seam was literally falling apart. I took this as a “sign” and dismantled the dress.  🙂

dismantled dress. the only thing left together was the bodice, that I will keep, and try to think of some way to use it in it's original form.

My goal was to only use materials from my mom’s wedding for the christening dress.  I found this; I dimantled it and used the lace and flowers on the dress.

This was my mom's reception head dress.

My mom also kept the ribbons from her bouquet.  They had little flowers attached to them.  I used some of them and the flowers on the front of the christening dress as well.

Laying out the pattern for the dress, figuring out which of the dress panels to use, etc took some time.  I was able to lay out the bodice of the baby’s dress so that it has lace on it that was appliqued on my mom’s dress.

Laying out the pattern for the christening dress

skirt piece for the baby's dress

All the pieces cut out and ready to be sewn together. Boy was I nervous!

I'm really happy with the way the lace for the bodice came out.

The sleeves with the lace attached

The bodice completed and ready for the sleeves to be attached.

completed sleeves ready to attach to the bodice

completed top of dress, ready for the skirt.

lots of pins used to get the gathering just right for the skirt

I wanted to see how it would fit a baby.... So I put it on one of my baby dolls I have from when I was little.

Back of the completed dress.

Front of dress.

I think my mom would be proud of the transformation of her wedding dress. 🙂

And… I have quite a bit of the fabric left…mmm, what to make next that can be handed down in the family for generations to come???

4 responses

  1. I love your “Happy” doll. I have one of those…was my favorite doll! I want to get her redone. Ya know, the permanent marker moles my dear brother put on her removed. Hair extensions (haha) b/c of the hair cut I gave her. But she was beautiful and part of one of my fondest Christmas memories!

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