Marjorie, my mother, on her wedding day — June 26, 1958
Alison, my daughter, on her wedding day, June 15, 2013
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heirlooms / second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity
Somehow, against all odds, my mother's wedding dress survived 55 years (far longer than the marriage, which only lasted 12) to be worn again by my daughter when she got married a little over two years ago.
My Aunt Carol was maid of honor and her dress was the same as Mom's with the exception of the sash, which was light blue instead of white.
The veil did not survive to be worn again, nor did those lovely gauntlets (or my aunt's dress)!
The dress was never "preserved" or even particularly cared for over the years. My sisters and I used it for dress up, as did my daughters; and I had it displayed (collecting dust) on a wicker dress form in my bedroom for several years.
It was in dire need of cleaning, as well as some repairs! It was just about three years ago that I put out a call to friends for a recommendation on cleaning and altering, and we ended up at Art Imig's in Sheboygan. Mom came along on that trip, and maybe the second; after that she was too sick or tired or stressed out from radiation and/or chemo.
The first step was to clean it, which was wonderfully accomplished by soaking it in OxiClean.
Then we discussed alterations. My mother had previously done some night-before-the-wedding sleeve alterations of her own — removing a bit of gathering on the sleeve cap so it wasn't puffy anymore but instead laid flat. That alteration also inhibited range of motion, so the entire sleeve area was a big stress point and very much in need of repair. There were some other small tears in the skirt that need to be repaired, as well, but nothing too serious.
The tailor was able to "steal" small bits of fabric from here and there to repair and reinforce the sleeves, and she replaced all the stays and the crinoline. The satin sash and bow had to be re-used because there was absolutely no new "white" satin that matched!
My mom had received some good news about her response to treatment just the day before the wedding, hence the "thumbs up!"
I think nearly all the topics have been covered with just this dress! The dress is hanging (covered) in my work room. We had talked about some repurposing options, but have decided to keep it… there are others in Ali's generation that may still wish to use it, and maybe even in the next. It would be nice if it was still an option for them, anyway.