Deconstructing a wedding dress

decon 1I 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): 
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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.

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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!

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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.

Walking down the Camino memory lane

During the last 4 years, March has been  a month of preparation for my Camino journeys. Three times have I found myself packing, repacking, shopping for new items, retiring older items and dreaming about the upcoming magical journey that is the walking on the Camino de Santiago.

This year is a stay-at-home year. My last Camino journey, in honour of my fallen sister, was cut short due to a medical issue, but I never once thought that would be my last Camino. In fact, my plan is to continue to live the Camino life as often as health and providence allows.

I will however relive my Camino memories through a challenge I opted to take, that of blogging from A-Z during the month of April. This challenge requires us to write a blog entry focused on each letter of the alphabet, on a daily basis. The subject is totally up to our choosing, and I decided to dedicate my challenge to my Camino memories. I have over 5,000 pictures taken during my 3 Camino adventures, and I decided to combine text and picture to share my experience with readers.

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Most of my blog readers are not pilgrims, but most have let me know they enjoyed experiencing the Camino through my photographs and stories. In honour of the Camino and all it has brought to me, I dedicate my challenge to it. I will post 4-5 pictures each day and in choosing my photos this weekend, I opted to aim to give a less traditional view into my journeys.

I looked for pictures that perhaps were not obvious of the Camino, but pictures that still to this day stir my soul and makes me long to return once again on Spanish soil.

I hope you enjoy this 26 day photographic essay and if you prefer the convenience of receiving updates as part of your emails, you can sign up on any of the pages of my blog and updates will be delivered directly to you.

I have received much more than I could ever give back to the Camino and I hope that for pilgrims, this brings back great memories and for non-pilgrims, I hope you discover a new side of what can be while walking the Camino de Santiago.

Of Poppies, Denise and Joy

April the 5th next month will mark the one year of my sister Denise’s passing. Much has happened since then, and although we’ve managed well through the various celebrations, all with much remembering, some tears and many smiles, there are still days that pull me into the grieving bubble.

I feel it’s a bubble because it encases me completely and for anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, my thoughts and emotions are focused on Denise. It sometimes manifest itself because of someone or something that we shared is part of the moment.

Of late, a few strange things have been manifesting themselves, and to some, they could be called coincidences, to others, they could be call totally unconnected unrelated events, and to myself, and others, manifestations of Denise’s essence.

I believe they are manifestations and they bring me joy. They bring on tears but that’s part of the beauty of missing someone, tears of longing. They bring on deep thoughts, and challenge my belief system. They bring me ribbons of memories that are vivid and multisensed – the sound of her voice called me “kiddo”, the sight of her face, the sense of her presence.

Recently, I’ve been hearing lots of Neil Diamond songs, and this is expected as Neil Diamond is actually giving a concert tonight in our city. Denise loved Neil Diamond, and I shared this admiration for the singer. She and I saw many concerts of his and I cannot help but think of her when I hear him sing. Giving his concert, the local stations have played many of his hits, but it’s still strange that I seem to hear them each time I drove to work, and around town.

Denise loved poppies. I named last year’s Camino Journey “the Way of the Poppies” in honour of her. She always praised my poppy pictures from the Camino, and she used to tell me this would be the part of the Camino walk she would most like to experience – to see fields and fields of wild red poppies in real life. I’ve seen at least 5 sightings of Poppies in the last week alone.

Am I paying more importance to poppies as the date gets closer to April 5th? Perhaps. But, could it be something else inciting me to see these poppies?


After all, I changed the dates of my Camino last year, after I spotted a picture of huge red poppy amongst the many pictures of Denise I was gathering for her memorial. That picture somehow mysteriously disappear from the group of pictures, and I just considered this a manifestation of Denise’s essence.

Late last week, My daughter Lisa told me about a series of painting workshops called Paint Nite. You buy a ticket for the evening, and an instructor walks you through painting a pre-chosen piece of art. I decided to select one, and I picked the week of early April. And wouldn’t you know, the chosen art piece for April 7th…

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This brings me lots of Joy, and happy memories of Denise. I am sure that as I am painting these poppies thoughts of Denise will envelope my creativity. This will be a wonderful evening.