Forty Years Ago Today

Forty years ago today and six weeks after Kevin returned from a 14 month tour in Viet Nam, he and I were married.  In the ensuing years we have been blessed with wonderful times (and of course some tough times); three incredible children, their wonderful spouses and two adorable grandchildren for which this blog is named.  Along with family and friends, we have created a lifetime of great memories and Kevin is still not only the love of my life, but also my best friend.

Our family - Megan and Chris's wedding

Congratulations to Megan and Chris, who are celebrating their first wedding anniversary today!


Oh my, how times changed us.  I guess you would call us “vintage”.

At Shaun's Wedding - Sept 2010

About my dress:  Because this is fundamentally a sewing blog, a little information about my wedding gown only seemed appropriate.  (And for those of you who remember the awful plaid suit I made for Kevin in the 70’s, I didn’t make his tux.)

The following is an old folded copy of the dress I copied from a 1970 bridal magazine   then I like “knockoff’s”.  The fabric was a sheer poly of some type purchased from a fine Milwaukee fabric store that bit the dust about 20 years ago.  The cape and veil were made from yards of silk illusion, which is now a rare find and the lace was beaded French alencon.  I cut all of the lace and spent hours beading it, but had lots of time since Kevin was in Viet Nam.

A little hiccup:

For the  year that Kevin was in Viet Nam, I lived with my parents.  They had a toy terrier who was usually well-behaved but like all animals he had his moments.  One day I was working on the nearly completed cape (fine silk – just right for a dog bed) and left it on the couch, never expecting that the dog would climb on the couch and nuzzle in my dress.  But he did, and tore the fabric in several places.   Grrrrh.  I was able to move some of the appliques and cover the tears so all was well in the end but at that time it seemed such a big deal.

Sewing a Wedding Dress: Countdown 5.5 Months

Sewing a Wedding Dress:  Muslin #2

In early December I took a day trip to the NY Fabric District to buy silk for the dress bodice, some of the embellishments, silk ribbon for the belt, boning, etc.  Yes, also there were a few other purchases for the stash  This time there was a good reason for the trip but secretly I wish I’d have the need to make these day trips more often.

Rhinestone trim
What a gorgeous pin

Most of the purchases worked out except the fabric for the dress top isn’t a good match for the skirt.  It was a rainy day and without the natural light, the color difference wasn’t obvious until I was in better light.  So I’m in search of an alternative.  Photos of all things glitter are at the left.  You can see the purpose of each on the compilation photo below. 

As planned, at Christmas, I had muslin #2 ready for Megan to try on.   For those of you who aren’t into sewing lingo, a muslin is a test garment or sample that you can adjust, write on, use as a pattern, etc.

Muslin #2

This muslin which if all goes well, will be a lining when it grows up, consists of 3 layers of fabric – 2 layers of polished cotton/poly and a mid layer of silk organza.  The cotton/poly is soft and thus comfortable next to the skin.  This trio made a fairly substantial lining, and I’m comfortable with the weight and it will work well for attaching boning later.

The front fit well but needs more sculpting at the front center.  The back also  needs a few adjustments, however the fit was good enough to boost my confidence as this is my first strapless dress.

What are your experiences making muslins?  Is it a part of your sewing credo or are you like me – just make one if you absolutely need to?

Wedding Dresses #1 and #5

A labor of love….

Of the maybe 100’s or 1000’s of pieces of clothing I’ve sewed in my life, there is nothing I’ve enjoyed as much as creating and constructing a wedding dress.  It’s an unparalleled amount of work for a dress which is only worn for hours but remembered for years.   On my own wedding dress, I probably spent 100’s of hours beading and hand sewing.  So why do I like this form of sewing so much?  There is no logical answer.  It can’t be the sense of competence because if you sew only one dress every ten years or so, you can hardly be considered “accomplished”.

Circa 1970 – Dress #1.

This dress was for my sister-in-law, who is still one of my dearest friends.  A little short on cash, she was planning to wear a lovely borrowed dress.  Did I simply want to make a dress, or was I altruistic and truly cared that she have a dress of her own?  I talked her into going to a Swiss lace shop where we purchased fabric and Shiffili lace for about $50. For the bride’s birthday that year, I surprised her with a headpiece and veil for which the internal framework was costructed with covered pipecleaners and the outside was made of lace scraps.  She was so thrilled.  Surrounded by bridesmaids and flowergirls adorned in lavender and purple, she looked lovely.  Not to slight her husband, Ed, he looked great too.

It’s so long ago that I can’t recall if I made some or all of the bridesmaid dresses.  Now, nearly 40 years later, the small Instamatic photos have faded so it’s tough to see any of the dresses but I’ll keep looking for a better photo.  Oh my, these photos scream of 1970.

Sheila - 1970
Why is the bride hidden?
Adorable sisters of the bride (Susan, Eileen) and that's me with big hair

2010 – Dress #5. We’ll get to some of the other dresses at a later time, but it’s time to begin telling you about Megan’s dress.  She will be married in June and we live a thousand miles from each other.  As of now, I think we’ll see each other twice before the wedding.  Now that’s downright frightening but I wouldn’t want her to know that I’m not sure how I’ll get the dress to the point of a perfect fit.  (Just kidding, Megan).

  • Step 1: Last winter in my excitement about her engagement and the opportunity to buy yet more fabric while on  a day trip to New York’s fabric district, I found some bridal fabric Megan loved.  It’s been tucked away since that time awaiting the perfect dress.
Skirt fabric - ruched taffeta
  • At Thanksgiving Megan visited and we went to several bridal salons to try on a few styles.  The bridal salons generously offered us the opportunity to photograph Megan in the dresses.  With her amazing creativity, Megan created a model from the photos – a satin top, rhinestone appliques, a sash and a skirt that looks nothing like the fabric we’re using.
A sweetheart top and silk sash

With the above style elements, this photo is where we are starting – follow for the coming months and we’ll all see how this turns out.

Model - this is the look we're aiming for