Lany's Dress


Grab a cup of your preferred beverage and bear with me as I tell this story of my next project, one in the making for over twenty years.


Let's first check out this little dress.  I didn't make it. It has been put away in a special place for a long time, however. Now it's time for it to come back out. The fabric is a basic soft cotton.


Do you see the proportion of the sleeve compared to the narrow bodice yoke? Huge and puffy was the way back in the day. . Notice how the collar doesn't meet at center front but that is quickly remedied with the addition of the pink satin rosette. I suspect the manufacturer uses pre made eyelet collars that got put on garments no matter the size. There's no top stitching and yes, it is sorely in need of a good press but I pretty much just unpacked it.



This pic give s better view of the "interesting" proportion. Huge buttons can often be cute on a more whimsical child's garment but here, with the delicate blue and white print, they are just too heavy.  Ugh. Again, notice how the collar doesn't meet at center back either.


In the logo conscious early 1980s, this label was put on the front skirt of the dress, but of course!

Now go back and look at the picture with the buttons down the back. Right about center, to the right of the dress, you will see on the wall a blurry picture of a lovely, smiling brunette. This was my sister in law, Terry. That's right, was. Terry is no longer with us, having suffered instant death from an aneurysm at the age of 32 in front of her young daughter and husband, my brother. I love this smiling picture of her as she smiled a lot and laughed a lot. We miss her tremendously. Life went on. My brother added an apartment to his home so my parents could care for his little daughter now that her mother had passed. It was a really happy arrangement but choices were made fueled by grief and wife number two came on the scene far too quickly. She removed any reminders of Terry and my mom found them in the trash. She pulled out the framed portraits from a big trash can and also this dress. Terry, loved this dress. It was sweet, feminine and the colors went beautifully with her daughter's dark hair and eyes. She had her daughter's portrait taken in it. It was her favorite picture of Lany and she never failed to mention that. My mom remembered that as she pulled the framed image from the trash. My  mom knew where the dress had been kept and was afraid that it would be tossed as well. She went into the home while they were out and took it out of the closet and brought it to her apartment. She packed the picture and the dress away. My mom and Terry were extremely  close and my Mom missed her terribly. The marriage to wife number two lasted six months, as one would expect in these grief driven situations.

Life went on. I never knew my mom had the dress or the picture. As my mom's health declined she called me in one day to her bedroom and went into her closet and pulled out the dress and the picture. She gave me the dress. My mom asked me to promise to give it to Lany when and if she ever had her own  little girl. I told her I would. I took the dress and packed it way carefully with my best sewing fabric. It hung with velvets and hand smocked Christening gowns for years, moving through three homes.  I took it out this week. Lany is due any minute for her second child, a girl. I will give her the dress......... But  more.........

This is where the incredible community of sewing bloggers steps in. Some of you may remember a blog by Kristine  B. from the Chicago area, husband firefighter, made gorgeous garments, particularly gowns. She no longer blogs but we still keep in touch. She now has a terrific business making formal wear and SHE IS GOOOOOD. Back when she was blogging something came up and I told her the story of the dress and even showed her a picture. Out of the heavens, Kristine told me she was pretty sure she had the same fabric or at least something very close to it. She had made her own daughter a dress out of it and would gladly send me what was left if I was interested. Her generosity will tell you what a lovely person she is.  She sent the fabric. It was extremely close to the dress fabric and I decided I had enough to make something work that could be worn by Lany's  own daughter, should she ever have one. For Kristine B.'s generosity, I will always be grateful and so appreciative.

Today I pulled the fabric out and dug for patterns. I will do a similar back opening yoked dress. It will have puffy sleeves but hopefully more in proportion. I will do a plain white linen collar and sleeve bands.  The bodice will be lined. The skirt will be fuller. If I can find the right color, there will be piping on the dress as well. The back will have buttons but a much smaller scale.I will make a size one. My plan is to give it to Lany for her new baby girl as soon as she arrives. My mom took care of Lany through my brother's tribulations and grief and the two were always very close until my Mom's passing. I know she will love to have this.

*********************

Back to the picture of the back of  the  dress... It kept twisting around and I took tons of pics. I never noticed that her mom's photo, on the wall of my sewing room, was also in the photo,  directly looking at the dress. I sure pray my hands pull this off and it goes well......Bunny


Comments

  1. This is the sweetest, saddest story! Brought tears to my eyes, maybe because I'm still on my first cup of coffee? It is life, though, isn't it? Thank God your mom pulled those things from the trash, and how wonderful that Lany still has her wonderful aunt! I know you will be a great-aunt, and the dress you sew with your loving hands will be even more special than this one!

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    1. We all felt a need to care for Lany as she grew up without a Mom. She has turned into a lovely, lovely young woman and good wife and Mom. What I didn't tell here is that she had Wife #3 to deal with and that did not last either. But she is a survivor and so sweet.

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  2. What a lovely, bittersweet story. I'm sure this dress will be treasured too- perhaps you could adapt the original dress as a gift for Lany herself? Maybe a simple change into a night dress case ?

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    1. I am going to clean and iron the older dress and present her with that as well. I am so hoping she has that picture. Wouldn't it be great to have a portrait of her own daughter in the same-ish dress?

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  3. I love the way you've told this story! I'm sure it seemed more bitter than sweet at many moments. Little girl's dresses are my favorite thing to make! I've been pulling out my youngest daughter's dresses for my oldest son's daughter to wear. The dresses aren't always as we remember them!

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    1. You are so right and styles do change, particularly hem lengths and sleeves. This dress should go together quite fast other than the piping. I am headed to town today to see if I can find a good solid in the darkest shade for the piping.

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  4. Bunny, I remember well when you were making heirloom garments for your grandchildren when they were small. They were exquisite and I know you will make this next dress with the same amazing attention to detail. I,m looking forward to seeing result of your next labor of love.

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    1. There won't be any smocking or lace insertion but I do hope it becomes an heirloom along with the original. I will let you all know how it goes when I gift to her.

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  5. Oh Bunny, I too have tears in my eyes. Bless your mother for being so brave to go into the house and rescue these items. How a new wife can be so heartless in such a time of sadness? But the story turns around and now you have a new baby coming who will be celebrated and welcomed with joy. The golden thread of love is unbroken through your goodness!

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  6. Oh my. I am a stepmom and I just do not understand people like this. Good grief.

    I am SO glad your mom was able to rescue the dress and the beautiful photos. And that you can give your niece this gift.

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  7. It's a sad story with a happy end. It will certainly be a treasured item. The fabric is so very similar. Both your mother and you were wonderful in keeping it all that time.

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    1. Bittersweet but I am so happy to have the ability to do this and so thankful I had a Mom who recognized that. Thanks, Sigrid.

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  8. Love. So much love. What a tribute to love.

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  9. I love your blog but very seldom comment. Just had to with this one. A wonderful ending and such a tribute to your sister and niece.
    Marciae

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  10. Oh, what a lovely, sad story. Lany is so lucky to have had such a wonderful Grandma and have such a devoted Aunt. I am sewing this week with some Liberty that I bought in 2001 on my very first trip to London. I have kept it tucked away, waiting for someone special and she's here!

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