August 9, 2015

The Princess Bride Gown...

Brynwood Needleworks - Dubbed "The Princess Bride Wedding Gown"
In 2008, I created a wedding dress for my eldest niece. 

I began making it on July 8th of that year and completed it on September month before the wedding. This was the only thing I worked on that entire time. When I calculated actual time spent cutting, sewing, beading and stitching, I figured I had more than 350 hours of love poured into the project. (I was clearly obsessed.)

Her wedding date was October 18, 2008 and the plan was that Handsome and I (I'm her aunt and Godmother) would hand deliver the gown (along with two bridesmaid's dresses I also made) in time for the ceremony.
Brynwood Needleworks - Wedding Gown Back
If you and I were friends on Ravelry at that time (and you also belonged to a sub-group called "Grandma's Hand"), you followed the entire process of making the gowns with me.

Handsome left to visit his brother in Massachusetts for two weeks when it came time for me to cut into the fabric for the actual wedding dress. He wanted to give me space to work on it without interruption. He was also looking forward to seeing family and friends in Nantucket. We both would benefit from the trip.

The day he was supposed to leave to drive back home (near the end of July), I received a call saying he was very ill and had been flown by jet from Nantucket Cottage Hospital to Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.

By the end of the day, he'd undergone surgery, I had made arrangements with a local kennel to board my retriever, Kes, and I was on my way to Boston. The gown My life was on hold. Handsome was all that mattered to me.
Brynwood Needleworks Wedding Gown Side View
Without going into further detail, we were in Boston for three weeks before I could bring my husband back home to recuperate and gain his strength. In addition to caring for him and helping him heal, I managed to complete not only the wedding gown, but also cummerbunds and bridesmaids dresses.

By the time I needed to leave for Minnesota, Handsome was well enough to travel. We delivered everything, and at the request of the Grandmas, danced together at the wedding reception. That dance meant the world to me - and the ladies in Grandma's Hand not only celebrated long-distance with us, but they sustained me through the most difficult days in our married life. This gown also signified our triumph over this unexpected challenge.
Brynwood Needleworks Muslin Version - Wedding Gown Front
Before I ever cut into the actual fabric for the gown, I made it completely in a white muslin version.
Brynwood Needleworks Muslin Version - Wedding Gown II
My niece lived 1500 miles away in Minnesota, so her fiance' helped her take the measurements I asked for to enable me to set up my dress form to her exact measurements. I padded out the form, added a corset similar to the one she would wear, and set the shoulder height to match hers. It would be like fitting the dress to her, even though she was so far away.

She made arrangements to fly to Florida when the muslin was finished - and that was her fitting for the actual gown.
Brynwood Needleworks Muslin Version - Wedding Gown Back
I didn't add a back closure so that I could be sure the bodice would fit her perfectly. The sleeves were unattached so I could be sure they were the right length for her, and the under dress was unhemmed so that I could pin it to fall perfectly when she came for the fitting.
Brynwood Needleworks Muslin Version - Wedding Gown Back on Bride
She came for a long weekend, and I tacked, measured and wrote down all the details I would need to make the perfect wedding gown for her. Handsome helped me by taking photographs to help me visualize anything else I might have missed.
Brynwood Needleworks Muslin Version - Wedding Gown Front on Bride
When we delivered the gowns (a few nights before the wedding), my niece and her bridesmaids (her future sister-in-law and sister) came to our hotel room for their final fittings.
Brynwood Needleworks Wedding Gown and Bridesmaids' Dresses - Fitting Night
My niece stepped into her wedding gown - and it fit her perfectly. I couldn't have fit it any better had she lived with us during the sewing process!

You can see I still had a little fitting to do on the bridesmaid's dresses. I didn't hem them or finish the bodice seams until they tried on the dresses. I had plenty of time to do that between that night and the wedding, and actually had them finished the next morning.
Brynwood Needleworks Wedding Gown and Bridesmaids' Dresses
The bride and the wedding party were perfect for their big day, thanks to the muslin that I made first. I  was so glad that I'd done it because it saved me money and time in the long run.

Why have I told you this whole story? 
Brynwood Needleworks Muslin Version - Wedding Gown Bodice
Because I still have that muslin gown. Instead of adding the buttons down the back of the dress like that actual wedding gown, I've sewn in a zipper. Somehow those sleeves that had to be shortened were lost in the shuffle. I'm in the process of making new ones.

The outer skirt of the gown was finished prior to the bride's fitting, but the under dress still needs to be hemmed, which I will do. 

Then, I'm going to list it in my Etsy shop. It would be a fabulous costume - or, because I chose quality, soft, white muslin that looks like a more expensive cotton, it could even be a wedding gown for a more casual ceremony. Could you even imagine the fair maiden wearing this muslin for the wedding gown Handsome dubbed the "Princess Bride" gown at a Renaissance Faire?

I'll work on it this week so it's ready to list. It deserves more than hanging in my studio closet. I'd love to see someone else wear and enjoy this dress that has so much history attached to it.

6 friends clicked here to leave a note for me:

Jacque. said...

Wow...that is a great story! And, a beautiful gown! So much patience you must have.

Jane said...

Lovely gowns - beautifully made!

I sewed both my daughters' wedding gowns at their request, the thrill of a lifetime! I was still teaching at the time so it was wonderful to have the entire summer break to work on each gown. Back then there were still numerous fabric shops here so we had fun going around selecting the patterns, fabric, lace, beads, etc.

Createology said...

Thankfully Handsome is well and the two of you are able to enjoy life together. Your sewing expertise is amazing and the muslin wedding gown will be treasured by someone. I admire your strength and your skills my friend. Blessings...

Laurie said...

What an amazing story Donna, the time and love you put into that gown, and the care you had to show your husband at the same time speak volumes for you. The gown is beyond beautiful, and someone else will soon be enjoying the muslin one as well. Gorgeous.

laurajane said...

Loved reading this Donna,the dress is stunning.I have to say I love the muslin gown too.xx

Little Birdie Blessings said...

I enjoyed reading the story of this dress/dresses Donna. You must care deeply for your niece to pour these hours of love into the dress. It's stunning and I'm sure she was thrilled and very appreciative. I'm glad "handsome" was okay and able to attend the wedding. Thanks so I much for sharing. I love reading about acts of generosity, especially with handmade items. ~ Abby


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