In a few days, it will be 14 years since my maternal grandmother passed away. I have wanted to share what I am creating but I have honestly had an incredibly emotional time working on this.
“Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before.
They are now wherever we are.” – St. John Chrysostom
This is the woman who taught me to love to create and I visited her almost every day as a child. I remember sitting next to her on her recliner while she taught me to crochet at the age of 7. I remember sitting at her little kitchen table while she would sketch out birds and flowers (she was a talented china painter) for me to paint over with watercolors. She also taught me to embroider and tried to teach me to knit which became my true love in crafting for several years until I fell in love with sewing.
I think these memories of my grandmother started to hit me hardest as I begin to grapple with what my worth is to the world as a homemaker when I only imagined a professional career as a child and young adult. As I approach my tenth year of forgoing professional success to make a home for my family and homeschool my children, I see that these little things, were in fact, the big things.
And it brings me great joy to give these to my children.
My mother is perpetually cleaning out closets and sending treasures my way. A few years ago, she sent me my First Holy Communion gown (a spectacular Jessica McClintock number from 1992) as well as her wedding dress, a mid-70s fashion handmade by her mother.
My girls are blessed to be incredibly tall but also incredibly thin (their chest sizes being several sizes smaller than average for their height), so I knew it was unlikely a storebought gown would fit well. About two years ago, I started sewing enough that I thought, “Just maybe I can make a first communion gown for my daughter out of my wedding dress…”
But after consulting with my friend T. (a former bridalwear seamstress) we decided that too much would be lost with the boning and the beading and the lace-up back from my 2006 Maggie Sottero gown.
So then, I looked to my mother’s gown, and with her blessing (as well as T.’s), I started planning. This process has been incredibly special and heart-wrenching and challenging because I was diving into recreating my mother’s wedding gown that was HANDMADE by my grandmother.
Here is a view of her gown on my dress form before I started the whitening process.
I also had Big Sis and Middle Sis try it on one last time like I did as a child at my grandmother’s house.
I wanted to make sure that if it melted in the wash or something that we had some good shots for memories. My mom is awesome at being totally detached from objects, and she hasn’t even heard of the Konmari Method yet!
So funny story for you here – I washed it and soaked it once. I was afraid to soak it too long because I didn’t want the fabric to deteriorate… I then was headed to a town with a large textile store the next day (over 200 miles away) so I brought the dress with me. I found perfectly matching crepe chine. But the lace was still too yellow for my taste, so I decided to soak it one more time. I soaked the dress for at least 2 hours in Oxi Clean White Revive. And it was amazing. The lace was almost perfectly snow white again. My perfectly matching crepe chine was no longer perfectly matching (I knew this was a risk), so I used it for the lining!
With the dress being restored to white, but no longer having matching crepe (in case I messed up somewhere!) I had to really finalize my design plans.
Check back tomorrow to see where I went!