Emmy-Lou's Christening dress - Stitching Memories.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of Wedding dress refashion blog post, the past couple of months have been quiet an emotional sew!
Starting with the 'Gathering Memories' project to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society which you can read more about here.
But this post is about the challenge set by my sister in law, Gemma Beryln - to make my niece, Emmy-lou, her christening dress. Which at first I was totally fine with; however the challenge was to make it out of her wedding dress. Now this wedding dress is very special as this was a Hand-Made wedding dress which her mother in law, Ineke Berlyn had made for her.
If you have had chance to read part one, you will know that Ineke was the person who set me on my sewing journey by showing me how to make my own wedding dress. She is a huge inspiration to myself as well as Gemma who has also been inspired by Ineke's printing and textile art. What made this project hard is that sadly, Ineke is no longer with us.
She lost her fight to cancer in 2017 and has left quite a hole in our family. Try as we do to make sure she is still with us in what ways we can.
So for me, to essentially cut up what Ineke had beautifully made for Gemma, was the most terrify thing. More terrifying than appearing on the Great British Sewing Bee Studio on the first day!
Before cutting into the precious dress, making a toile was essential! I didn't use a pattern as Gemma wanted the gown to be a copy of a dress she already had that fitted her perfectly.
I was so pleased with the toile! It's so cute and I didn't realise until after that the fabric has flowers resembling tulips on it, Ineke's favourite flower! I felt like it was a sign that she was approving. Which really helped as the next step was to cut up the wedding dress!
luckily I was able to keep the upper part of the dress in tacked, so that Gemma still had a 'dress' left to cherish.
I placed my pattern pieces onto the off cut, trying to avoid areas that had become marked from the evenings dancing and luckily there was just enough left over lace to cover the front bodice. PHEW!
I also used the lining from the wedding dress to create clean finishing around the neckline and arm holes, where as on the toile, I bound them with bias binding. I also bagged out the skirt, so that it created a little volume in the dress.
It didn't take long to sew up as it was such a small garment. I'm so used to adult sizes it seemed to sew up in no time at all, but it was a little tricky at times because of the arm holes being so small! They wouldn't fit around the arm of the machine. Again, I'm so glad I made a toile first as I was able to practise before hand.
I took my time over the hand finishing details. I stitched sea beads left over from my wedding dress onto the lace and also hand finished the button plackets on the back of the dress. I didn't want to spoil the finish by top stitching them closed with the sewing machine.
To finish off the dress, I added some vintage mother of pearl buttons that I'd been keeping in my stash.
When I sent the finished dress pictures to Gemma, we both became emotional and was crying as we texted each other back and forth. I just hoped that Emmy-lou didn't have a massive growth spurt between now and the big day and that I had done Ineke proud.
I felt that with Ineke no longer with us, I was somehow responsible for passing on this tradition of making special clothes for our children/ family members. Ineke had made both Gemma's and Liske's (Ineke's daughter) wedding dresses, and I know if she was here then she would have made Emmy-lou's christening dress.
So I'm very honoured to do this for my beautiful niece, Gemma and Ineke. I like to think that Ineke and I made the dress together somehow; through two stitched garment, our hands have become one and we made it together just in time for the special day.
Everything was perfect on the day! Gorgeous sunshine and fabulous home cooked curry at Little heath Barn Studio - Piet's family home as well as Ineke and Liske's studio where they hold printing workshop surrounded by her beautiful textile art. There was tears, laughter, wine, music and great company.
One thing though -trying to photograph a toddler is impossible, especially when all they want to do is play on the slide!! lol
Have you made a special garment for yourself or a family member?
Have you refashioned your wedding dress to make a christening gown?
I'd love to see your creations so please send me pictures via my Facebook page Tailor - Taylor
or don't forget to use the hashtag #sewingrevolution !
Also Emmy-lou's Christening dress has been featured in my editorial for June's addition of Craft Business .
Where I was posed a question - The royals - A class of their own or fashion trendsetters?
With Royal weddings and new royal baby arrivals in the press, are we being influenced by the royal's wardrobe - I wonder what your thought are?
Whatever I'm doing