Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sewing for Sisters, pt. 2

When Mother decided to sew the wedding dress, the maid of honor dress and a bridesmaid dress for my oldest sister's wedding in 1955, it was probably the biggest sewing project of her life, at least until she decided to make all the drapes for the new three story Brethren church in 1956. As I mentioned earlier, she wasn't a terribly confident seamstress. In 1952 she had made my sister's formal (homecoming queen), and in 1954 she had made Carol and me prom dresses. So she was working up to a really big project.

She usually shopped in Dixon or Freeport for fabric, but went to Chicago for the lovely white satin and embroidered tulle net. For Carol's and my dresses, she selected a shimmery new fabric called, I think, Krystalline, also called crystal organza or crystalline. I was a dishwater blonde, pretty average looking, but Carol was dark with exotic features. My dress was a peppermint pink and Carol's was daffodil yellow, perfect for her complexion.

Many new synthetic fabrics were being developed in the 1950s, and I think it must have been an exciting time to be a home seamstress. Krystalline is used today in crinolines, but I don't think I've seen it in dresses in nearly 50 years. Probably because feminine elegance isn't very popular. (We had the Jackie O 60s; the funky 70s; the dress for success 80s; and the anything goes 90s.) Krystalline came in a wide range of colors, held it's shape and didn't wrinkle. I felt terribly glamorous (I was 15) wearing this dress which I later wore to the prom, and especially felt glamorous walking down the aisle with a 22 year old groomsmen.

Here is a pattern from the internet that I've shown my sister and she thinks it is THE dress, although the bodice was completely lined.

Below is my sister on the left, and then me on the right with the dress slightly altered and shortened 5 years later.

Update: Since writing this I've learned that the dress is safe and in perfect condition at my niece's home in Virginia. If she gets it out and looks at the careful stitches and tiny hand sewn pearls, I hope she remembers happy times with her grandmother.

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