I imagine many women will gasp at the thought of cutting up a perfectly good wedding dress that likely cost quite a bit. Many of you know that I am part of an organization called Tiny Hearts Angel Gowns, where volunteer seamstresses turn donated wedding dresses into small wee gowns for babies who don’t come home. My sister Suzanne introduced me to this group, and I decided to join as I enjoy sewing and believe this is a good match for sewing experience and what speaks to my heart. I must admit I am so humbled and grateful for the women who have wholeheartedly donated their beautiful dresses for this cause. I also am grateful for Rachel’s initiative in starting the chapter in our area.
Now, many of you have asked how I can actually cut apart such amazing dresses. The fact remains that reselling a wedding dress is difficult to do, since they are fitted so well to the owner, finding an alike body type, who likes the actual dress style and colour is a difficult challenge. Many women said they have often thought of giving it away, but didn’t have any options to do this, or were keeping it for a christening gown (which they may or may not have done), or for their own girls or granddaughters. For whatever reason, many dresses live long decades in closets… one woman’s dress spent over 45 years in her closet until she called me.
So, how much nerve does one have to have in order to feel comfortable taking such a special ornate dress apart? I confess my first wedding dress I deconstructed was my mother’s dress she wore in 1945, and this in order to make ornaments for my family members. I waited a month before cutting it to see if I would have any dreams of my Mom talking about the dress! I was nervous, but it went well.
I take pictures of every donated dress that I receive. Yesterday, after receiving an email asking me about the process of cutting the dress, I decided to document a complete deconstruction mostly through pictures. First off, please know that we treat the dresses with the utmost care and respect. I don’t take this lightly, by any means. Let me show you this light beige dress (thank you Terri):
The first step I take is to really examine the dress to see how it was made. In this case, the dress had many layers of crinoline that we cannot use for our little gowns. I removed those layers cutting close to the seam. Once this removed, I was able to determine the dress had a lining, and multiple layers of fabric. I then proceeded to unsew the seams using scissors or my exacto knife.
Each layer was removed, seperated or unsewn. There was very little wastage and lots of individual parts and large sections of fabric.
The second picture in this section shows what is left over.The tools I used are sharp scissors an exacto knife, and for cleaning up, a good vacuum and a lint brush for my clothes!
In the next few months, I will get to work on these pieces of fabric and will share some of the gowns so you can see the transformation from start to end. I extend a huge thank you to all who have donated and help us spread the word about our organization.