Legacy Wedding Gown to First Communion gown…

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Welcome to the third and final part of my series on transforming my mother’s wedding gown (which was made by her mother) into a keepsake First Communion gown for my daughters. If you are just joining us, check this post out for details on the original gown and this post out for the pattern inspiration and process I used to update the gown.

To refresh your memory, I started here. My grandmother made my mother’s gown out of crepe chine and polyester lace.

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What are some tips I would like to share with you if you undertake something similar?

1. Be totally free and completely detached from the results. This was important to me to have my mother’s complete blessing to attempt this. I was at peace if it did not work out.

2. I dressed my dress form in the gown for several days so I could plan my project. I had to think outside the box to get the ENTIRE dress (except bodice lining and sash) out of the original gown. Do not be surprised at how much fabric you use. I had almost nothing left over of the original dress when I was done except the lace sleeves and bodice scraps.

3. I recommend planning on a lot of hand sewing to avoid damaging older, more fragile fabric. I also had to rely on advice from friends and Facebook groups for getting the perfect bridal quality finish I was going for with my project. Read the captioned close-ups below to see how I altered the Very Merry Pattern by Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop to get the perfect results from my gown. While my daughter and I are THRILLED with the results, I will also share a few things I wish I had done differently.

4. I did make a muslin. I don’t usually make a muslin if I am confident in the size chart of the pattern maker. I am very confident in Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop’s size chart, but I did not want to mess this up. I could have taken in the gown a bit more for my oldest, but I left a little ease to accommodate two more months of growth and also to leave more room to adjust for her younger sisters.

5. Start early. I probably spent 25 hours total on this project. Only about 6-7 was actual sewing, but I spent a lot of time researching and taking breaks. I make big mistakes when I am tired and did not want to rush any of the steps. Starting early also allowed me to order new supplies if something didn’t work out. I also wanted to make sure I had time to order a veil and shoes when I was done. I had our veil custom made by Mousebee Couture on etsy and I was thrilled with the results! I also made a floral headpiece to keep with the vintage feel of the dress.

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I made my pintucked sash out of bridal quality taffeta. I wish I had used satin for a better drape.
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At the recommendation of a bridal wear expert, I used lace hem tape and stitched the blindhem by hand. I have never done a hem by hand before. It took THREE hours of Netflix for me to get it done. You can also see that I kept the lace panels my grandmother sewed totally intact hence the unfinished, pressed open, seams. Because this will only be laundered a handful of times, I chose not to risk damaging them with my serger.

 

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I wanted the new dress to resemble the original wedding gown. I carefully cut out a lace placket and attached it carefully to the bodice. I then topstitched (after adding the lining) along the lace placket portion of the neckline only. This was to help keep the neckline from shifting and the lining peeking out.
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The helpful members of the PAB Facebook group gave me this tip. I finished the sleeve openings with bias tape that I made from crepe chine. I attached it by machine to the seam allowance, and then flipped it over and handstitched.
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I had to install the zipper THREE times to get it even. The third time, I hand basted it and then sewed and it behaved for me. If I were to do it over, I would have handpicked it like the original gown. This was also suggested to me in the PAB group, but I had already assembled the bodice and skirt assuming I would be doing an invisible zip and wasn’t sure how to change things.
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The third and final try of installing my invisible zip… I accidentally sewed the zipper stop into the seam allowance. I did not want to risk ripping the fabric so I used embroidery floss to make a new zipper stop up top. I also installed a hook and eye. I will get my hands on white embroidery floss before the big day 🙂
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The skirt lining. The Very merry does not have a lined skirt, but the original gown did. I shortened the lining, and then attached it to the seam allowance between the skirt and the bodice. I then handstitched the bodice down over the skirt lining. I am thrilled with how finished it looks on the inside. You will also notice that I did a gathered skirt instead of the pleated skirt on the original pattern. Amazingly, the dimensions of the original skirt width were very similar to the dimensions of the Very Merry skirt. However, the pleats obscured the lace panels, so I stuck with a gathered skirt.
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I initially hemmed the sleeves by machine. The thin material shifted and there was puckering. Since the skirt hem turned out so well, I also used lace hem tape and hemmed the sleeves by hand as well.

So, there you have it. I am finally done with this project. She won’t get to wear it until April, but I am thrilled with the results.

I am even more thrilled that we will get to continue a beautiful story with a dress that is becoming part of our family’s history.

May God bless and keep you, my Child.

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