Very different wedding gown project

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Very different wedding gown project

Postby NancyF » October 22nd, 2014, 6:21 pm

This is my current wedding gown conversion and as you can see it is a very different project. I normally work on gowns that were made in the last five or ten years. I think this one is probably a minimum of 50 years old. The granddaughter and the granddaughter in law of the original wearer both had babies recently and want two christening gowns made from this dress. The grandmother was married in Italy in this dress and the grandson and gddil were married in the same church in Italy.

I have no trouble cutting apart designer dresses that cost a fortune but this one is different. It is so beautifully sewn. Inside is perfect and most of it was done by hand. Some is machine made but much isn't. All the seams are rolled and whipped and some of the seams are bound. If feel like I will be getting a lesson in construction when I deconstruct this dress.

I don't love it as a wedding dress but it is very Audry Hepburnesque. The pictures don't do it justice. The family says the dress is silk. It isn't dupioni but does have all the slubs but the texture is more like linen. It was cleaned and all the pleats in the skirt were hand stiched down so that they would stay.

Has anyone seen a wedding gown like this before? I almost want to get someone to try it on before I take it apart. I think off the hanger it would look better.

Nancy F.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby jsm » October 23rd, 2014, 7:22 am

I have known of wedding dresses similar in style during the late 1940's. Is it possibly that old? There are even some in photographs of my own family. Those weddings did take place here in the states, though. After World War II, there were many weddings. Because of the circumstances and economic situations, they were not large affairs with formal wedding gowns. I can easily see this type dress worn for such a wedding, especially in Italy. Back then, even every day dresses were usually constructed with more attention to detail than what we see today. The fact it remains in such good condition is a testament to the quality of fabric and tailoring.

Unless they have photographs to prove otherwise, maybe it was actually the traveling or going away dress of the grandmother.

Regardless, it is lovely in its own way, and especially with its history. Cannot wait to see what you create with it! Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby angelalee511 » October 23rd, 2014, 8:01 am

Oh it's beautiful whatever it's original use. Raw silk has that linen texture. It's a very lovely fabric.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby NancyF » October 23rd, 2014, 9:03 am

Jan, the family does have pictures of her wearing it for the wedding. I will have to get a date from them but it is old. Supposedly the woman's daughter took special care of it all these years.

It is the attention to details inside that are fascinating to me. I just about have figured out what I am going to do with it. No one but a sewer would understand how I have to have it hanging in my sewing room for a week to keep looking at it and then all of a sudden a plan for the new garment pops into my head. It is a process that is hard for me to rush. Last night I thought I knew my plan and then this morning I woke up and thought of a different approach and now I just need to construct. I want to keep those original pleats in place. I am thinking a gown that falls from the shoulder rather than the yoke or bodice type that I usually make, especially since the pleats are there and the bottom will flare out from those.

They want two gender neutral gowns that don't have to be identical but I think they might be identical if I do what I am thinking.

I was looking online last night and there seems to be something called silk linen and the description and picture do match the texture of the dress.

I am hoping the girls will get me at least a cell phone picture of the photo of her wearing the dress.

Nancy F.

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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby Bunbun5 » October 24th, 2014, 5:04 pm

This is an amazing project, Nancy. What a privilege to be entrusted with this project! I hope we get to see more pictures.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby nonie » October 24th, 2014, 5:38 pm

How interesting. You sure get to handle many different gowns. Waiting to see what you come up with I know it will just blow my mind.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby KathyD » October 24th, 2014, 7:28 pm

What a wonderful project to undertake! I do understand the hesitation to deconstruct the dress - I'm sure that you'll see some amazing workmanship in this dress. I cannot wait to see what you do with it. Glad that your research on the fabric has been successful.

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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby NancyF » October 24th, 2014, 9:31 pm

Gown number one - the boy's gown - is almost done. Of course, I didn't do what I had envisioned. There wasn't enough fabric to leave those original pleats in. I wanted to leave them because the top stitching was so perfect but they were too deep and I needed that fabric.

I took out all the pleats. These pleats were pressed pleats and they had been hand basted down during storage. I was sure that I would never get the marks out of the fabric. Amazing - a little bit of steam and the marks from the pleats were gone. All the stitching holes were also easy to get rid of. I just rubbed over them with my little purple tool thing and they disappeared.

The fabric had writing in the selvage - I first thought it was the maker - it said "Seta Pura" - which I now think is Italian for pure silk.

I think all the seams, even the lining were hand whipped and rolled. They were sewn flat and the edges on each side were whipped and rolled. Did they even have zig zag machines back then?

The one thing that I was surprised at is that the skirt fabric is in panels, two panels of 30 inches and two of 15 inches. That was all pleated up - But - each panel was hemmed - and then sewn together. I would normally sew them all together and then hem at the end. The hem is perfect and looks continuous until you deconstruct.

This is an interesting project. Not easy - but interesting.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby KathyD » October 25th, 2014, 9:24 am

I'm loving your descriptions as you deconstruct this gown and make it into something else. :D

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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby nonie » October 25th, 2014, 11:49 am

I am also enjoying your description of how the gown was sewn together and how you are using this gown for very special Christening outfits.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby jsm » October 25th, 2014, 12:10 pm

I am anxious to see how you squeezed two gowns out of that one dress! It does not look like much continuous fabric with which to work.

Interesting about the hem. Don't you wish it could really talk and tell you the reasoning behind it?

I think the first zig zag machines for home use were introduced in the late 40's. I still have my mother's Singer, dating from the very early 1950's. It has a zig zag attachment. I think industrial zig zag machines were available well before that, though.

The fabric back then was usually only 36 inches, or less. That may explain the width of the skirt panels.

Thank you for sharing the interesting info!

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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby Rosieq » October 25th, 2014, 3:09 pm

Would this be the reason for each panel needing to be hemmed separately...

http://buzzybeesworld.blogspot.com/2012 ... erted.html

I remember way back in my sewing days I did the same thing with a dress pattern...doing the hemming of each panel...I think it was a box pleated skirt. Those panels (I think) were gored as well. That was definitely in my high school days.

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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby NancyF » October 31st, 2014, 8:43 pm

So, I found out when talking to the mother of the girl baby that the wedding dress is her mother's, not her grandmother's. When the mother of the boy baby talks about the dress she calls it grandma's dress. She is the daughter in law. But I still think it is pretty old. Probably between 40 and fifty years old from what they say.

I am posting the pictures of what I was able to do with the original gown.

They hang funny on the model and the baby hangers because these gowns are for babies that are at least a year old and one is closer to 14 months. They didn't tell me that when I contracted this project and I probably would not have done it knowing that - but it all worked out so I am glad I didn't know. I don't always get the measurements up front.

I will put the others in another post.

Nancy F.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby NancyF » October 31st, 2014, 8:46 pm

These are the last two pictures.

They wanted the gowns to look like the original dress. I was able to take the buttons and use them to echo the front of the dress for the little boy and then I reworked the sash to put on the little girl's version. Should that one ever be used for a boy, they can clip the stitches and take the bow off. I think the gowns are recognizable to anyone who is familiar with the original. I don't try to copy the original most times but I try to "echo" some detail or features of the original that will make the connection between the two.

I finally got the information to personalize the slip and hope to get that done tomorrow and have these shipped out.

Then I think I am taking a wedding dress break till after Christmas. I will just do new gowns and accessories for a while. I need a break.
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Re: Very different wedding gown project

Postby jsm » November 1st, 2014, 7:32 am

Nancy, these may be my favorites of your gown recreations! I am such a traditional person, especially when it comes to christening gowns. I absolutely love these! I am sure the family members will, also.

I am not sure where you came up with enough fabric, from the original garment, to create two long christening gowns in larger sizes! I think you and your creative mind definitely deserve a break to just enjoy the holidays!

Thank you so much for sharing so many photographs and information on this project!

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