This kind of project doesn’t come along everyday, or even every 100 years!
I was contacted by a very interesting woman in Tennessee to create a wedding gown for her daughter, using their lace.
Not just any lace! These incredibly preserved pieces of lace were rescued from garments dating back to the early 1800’s. Some pieces were collars and cuffs. I had a few linear pieces that were no more than 2 yards long. The Mom had inherited the family’s collection and added to it over the years.
The dress design was approved and here is the progression of the gown coming together. This new dress had a history and legacy like none other I had ever made. The lace was very old and delicate….all hand made way back then! I wanted to keep the pieces intact, so I ended up cutting very little of it. It was a puzzle to give the illusion of symmetry when there was no symmetry in the lace pieces I had to work with. When it was time to sew the lace to the dress, there was no question it had to be hand sewn. I didn’t want to risk damaging any of it with my machine. And there was talk of taking the lace off the dress after the wedding, to store it in it’s original form. (I don’t know if they actually did this.)
Once the gown was underway, I was asked if I would make the veil. Of course! The lace for the veil was actually 2 veils they wanted sewn together. Both predated the civil war and were somehow kept safe from being taken by the Union soldiers who took everything else of value. These remarkable, flawless veils were more recently kept in a vault at a bank. Their value exceeded $150,000. I was notably nervous about having them in my shop.
When it was time to send the dress and veil to Tennessee, I considered overnight shipping options. I did try to carefully fold the gown into a box. I ultimately couldn’t put either in a box to be tossed onto a plane or a truck. So, I laid them out on the backseat of my car and took a long drive and a long weekend to deliver them. As luck would have it, I had the added bonus of seeing a college buddy while I was in the south!