You see, she & my dad were married in Chicago in December and I was getting married in July...in Houston. (Ugh.) My mother's flannel-lined gown followed what was "all the rage", back in 1964. Not exactly still "all the rage" in 1999; and aside from the strange bodice that was cut nearer to one's shoulder, than at one's chest, the "yellowing" from years of being sealed in a garment bag, up in the attic and the itsy-bitsy fact that my mother had an 18" waist when she married (of which, I did NOT)...the dress was absolutely perfect.
There were some beautiful elements of the gown that I truly adored...the buttons that enclosed the entire back (Yep...there was no zipper or lacing. It had 43 buttons that went all the way up the back!) I loved the lace appliqués that were all-over the skirt, the lace sheath that met with long lace sleeves, which came to a point at the top of the hand and were fastened with more buttons along the wrist. I especially appreciated that there was no "bow on my bum". Instead there were two small pleats of satin that rested there. Yes, the dress truly beheld everything that I always loved about wedding gowns.
Now, because the gown had yellowed, I took it to a dry cleaner that specialized in heirloomed gowns, in hopes that the white might return. A few days later, I returned to be met with a note that suggested I meet with the owner. My heart leapt when the owner came to the counter with the gown. I could see as he came closer, that the yellow was gone and it was restored to a beautiful, vintage ivory. As the owner presented me with the box, he went-on to explain that they had a little problem. I lifted the lid to find that the gown had fallen to pieces! It seems that the age of the dress and the elements destroyed the seams and my once whole gown was now a skirt, a top and an option to go sleeveless...on one arm only!
Naturally, I was a bit concerned. But, I reassured myself in knowing that the gown needed a little work to make it fit. But, this was a lot more than a little work.
I called my mom to break the news to her about her very disconnected gown and softly informed her that I would need to start all-over from scratch as far as a wedding dress was concerned. In her light and bubbly voice she replied..."Oh, it's okay Honey! It's not as if I'm ever going to wear the dress again!" Relieved and stunned I began to laugh and realized that she was right, again!
So, I set to work designing my wedding gown with the elements that I loved from my mother's. I took the lace bodice (which was now a very fancy blouse) and attached it to a new long, pencil-type dress. I decided that the quirky neckline was not going to work. So, I wacked it down to an off-the-shoulder cut, still keeping those lovely sleeves, the buttoned back and the satin pleats. Now, as for the flannel skirt...unfortunately, the flannel was not one of the items that came-off during the cleaning. So, I decided to make the skirt, my very removable train. (I wasn't about to lose those appliqués!) So, with remnants in-hand and a fresh design, I went to see my seamstress, Estelle & together, we made my wedding gown.
Weeks later, I phoned Estelle to check on the progress and remind her of the impending date that I needed the gown for my bridal portraits. I asked when I should come for a fitting and was politely informed that she didn't have my gown anymore. Estelle had sent it to her mother to work on the added beading. Now, Estelle's mother had sewn gowns for me before, so this didn't bother me. What was a bit unnerving was that my gown wasn't even in Texas anymore...it was South of the border! Estelle assured me that my gown would be back in time for the bridal portraits...but it would be just in time!
Once again, I called my mom to tell her what was happening with her dress and once again, she quipped... "Wow! That dress is traveling to places I haven't even been to! Don't worry...everything will be just fine; you'll see!" And once again...she was right. With two days to spare before the bridal portraits, my gown arrived from Mazatlan (Too bad it didn't bring with it a bottle of Tequila...hehe) and after all that, it fit perfectly!
My sweet mother watches over me from Heaven now, and I am ever so thankful to have our Legacy gown to pass-on to my daughter, Railla. I am most hopeful that she too will experience as much laughter and adventure in making this gown her own...