The heirloom wedding dress
Grandmother’s treasure becomes a fashionable, ankle-length gown for today’s bride
Photos: 1900 – Mrs Wray A Bentley, the groom’s grandmother, as a bride / 1950 – Remodeled gown on the new Mrs Bentley
Stored away and preserved for fifty years, this lovely old heirloom wedding dress of pure silk satin was easily converted into a modern wedding gown for a new bride.
From the original dress made in 1900, only the train and skirt were used. The bottom half of the train provided enough material for a simple V-necked, sleeveless bodice and a wide shawl collar. (The tucked border was part of the original trimming.)
The collar was cut, with tapered ends, from one long side of the train, softly tucked at the shoulders, and attached to the bodice. Tapered ends were then crossed over the bodice front, to create a surplice effect.
Facings for the neck and armholes were made by cutting bias strips. Grandmother’s skirt, with the waistband removed, became the wrap-around underskirt of the new gown. This was stitched to the bodice, and the side seam was opened for a waist zipper.
The only new materials purchased were 4-1/4 yards of 35″-wide oyster-white lace and 1-3/4 yards of veiling. The overskirt was made by cutting the lace crosswise into four equal pieces (approximately 38″ by 35″).
These were seamed together along the 38″ sides, gathered at top, attached to the waistband from Grandmother’s skirt, and hemmed.
To make the headband, a piece 3 1/2″ wide and approximately 22″ long was cut from the top half of the train, lined with taffeta from the original train lining; then the two ends were joined.
The veiling, with corners rounded off, was tacked to the back of the headband, so the veil could be worn over the face or folded back.
Because the veiling and the elbow-length nylon-net gloves could be found only in white, they were soaked in tea about an hour, until tinted the ivory of the dress and overskirt.