Marjorie, my mother, on her wedding day -- June 26, 1958
Alison, my daughter, on her wedding day, June 15, 2013
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heirlooms / second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity
Somehow, against all odds, my mother's wedding dress survived 55 years (far longer than the marriage, which only lasted 12) to be worn again by my daughter when she got married a little over two years ago.
My Aunt Carol was maid of honor and her dress was the same as Mom's with the exception of the sash, which was light blue instead of white.
The veil did not survive to be worn again, nor did those lovely gauntlets (or my aunt's dress)!
The dress was never "preserved" or even particularly cared for over the years. My sisters and I used it for dress up, as did my daughters; and I had it displayed (collecting dust) on a wicker dress form in my bedroom for several years.
It was in dire need of cleaning, as well as some repairs! It was just about three years ago that I put out a call to friends for a recommendation on cleaning and altering, and we ended up at Art Imig's in Sheboygan. Mom came along on that trip, and maybe the second; after that she was too sick or tired or stressed out from radiation and/or chemo.
The first step was to clean it, which was wonderfully accomplished by soaking it in OxiClean.
Then we discussed alterations. My mother had previously done some night-before-the-wedding sleeve alterations of her own -- removing a bit of gathering on the sleeve cap so it wasn't puffy anymore but instead laid flat. That alteration also inhibited range of motion, so the entire sleeve area was a big stress point and very much in need of repair. There were some other small tears in the skirt that need to be repaired, as well, but nothing too serious.
The tailor was able to "steal" small bits of fabric from here and there to repair and reinforce the sleeves, and she replaced all the stays and the crinoline. The satin sash and bow had to be re-used because there was absolutely no new "white" satin that matched!
My mom had received some good news about her response to treatment just the day before the wedding, hence the "thumbs up!"
I think nearly all the topics have been covered with just this dress! The dress is hanging (covered) in my work room. We had talked about some repurposing options, but have decided to keep it... there are others in Ali's generation that may still wish to use it, and maybe even in the next. It would be nice if it was still an option for them, anyway.
I accidentally wrote "Weeding Photos," and it's not far off the mark. Culling through hundreds and hundreds of photos to make a reasonably sized and priced photo book is PURE TORTURE. And, yet, that's how I (almost always) gladly spent most of my weekend.
I didn't even have to take the photos -- granted use of the images taken by my niece, J(ena) Schleis Photography -- it's still an enormous undertaking. For months I've been promising my mother that I'd put together a book for her of photos from Ali's & Rod's wedding... and I finally buckled down.
Such is the glamorous life in photography: I left the house exactly once all weekend; ate cereal for supper on Saturday, tuna out of a can for lunch on Sunday (and a very late lunch, at that, pretty much negating the need for supper); finished a little knitting, watched 5 minutes of the football game, and now...
This is a stunning shawl, quite quick to knit on size 7 needles, and not at all difficult. Julia's pattern is wonderfully written. I have found the upper lace-to-stockinette-to-garter edge to be a bit "flippy" and would probably work out something different there -- possibly making the stockinette section a bit wider (there was plenty of yarn left over). It's lovely as a shawl, and I've also worn it wound more tightly to the neck like a cowl. Yes, it is currently in my custody.
Not happy with the stretchiness of my first "loose" cast-on, I ripped out the first version of Frambuesa that I knit and started again using a method by June Hemmons Hiatt in The Principles of Knitting. That resulted in a much better edge, and I'm delighted with how nicely the "points" look in these photos! This, also, was a well-written pattern and a very quick knit, also with plenty of yarn left over.
(Look for some commemorative red hexipuffs when that project is all said and done... someday!)
The patterns are available either individually, or as part of Julia's Mind of Winter Fire Collection, which also includes a beautiful pullover pattern.
I dyed the yarn once, knit the shawls, then over-dyed the finished shawls. The color turned out rich, deep, and luminous -- and pretty darn perfect.
We've been pinning to a Pinterest board (I love that. June 15th, 2013), making trips to Sheboygan for dress fittings, folding doilies, drawing maps, making invitations -- all of that & then some -- for months.
Hey, planning (pinning) a wedding is so much fun!
I took photos of Ali+Rod in their back yard in mid-May, when their cherry tree was in full bloom, using the photos and a Shutterfly template to create a guest book for the wedding. There's a book preview here, if you'd like to take a look.
And, for me, that's when the quickening began. Then Ali called and said that she'd been having terrible nightmares about the wedding. She said that everyone had been telling her for so long that it would just happen and it would all work out, but she was dreaming that it was wedding day and nothing was done, there wasn't a plan! We had to get together and plan something!!
The fun & games were truly replaced by work & dread when the calendar flipped from May to June. And by dread, I really mean it... I had to force myself to smile and be excited about this thing that I'd never done before! By June 1st, I just wanted it all to be over!! Cupcake tasting a week before the wedding helped, ever so slightly, to take the edge off; and the wine. :)
* * * * *
On Thursday morning, two days before the wedding, I made the last trip to Sheboygan to pick up the finished dress. The tent was scheduled for delivery and set-up that morning at Rod's parents' farm -- site of the wedding -- and I had some questions about the tent and what we could do, so decided to stop by there on the way.
The sight of that tent as I came up the road, and then down the drive, made me feel... well, as I shared on some other platforms, "Shit's gettin' frickin' real!" I could not believe how beautiful it all looked! And excitement was in the air!!
After a day of driving/pondering, with cars & trailers loaded -- bolts of tulle, strings of lights, tablecloths, a million little things -- and a vague plan in mind for it all, we made our way out later in the day to begin setting up.
It took a village, for sure, but one of the village people stood out from all others. Friend of the groom's family, Pete was the eye of the storm -- the doer, the enabler, the troubleshooter, the rock -- and I don't know what we'd have done without him! He was everywhere, doing anything and everything that was asked of him! Always cheerful, always calm, there wasn't a single moment in four days that I was there and he wasn't. I don't know how many times I hugged and thanked him... I do know it wasn't nearly enough. Every mother-of-the-bride needs a Pete!
My first order of business was tulle and lights. Working from the top-down, Pete climbed the ladder and stapled one end of a bolt of tulle to a post, while I swagged and draped along the perimeter.
I had a plan for the lights, but when we opened the boxes and discovered that what I thought I ordered (pluggable end-to-end) and what I actually ordered (curtain lights... plug at one end only) were two very different things, well, there was a bit of an engineering pow-wow to come up with a new plan! Pete told me what was possible electrically, and we worked it out. I think it turned out even better than the original plan. It helped that those curtain lights were 32' long!
Among other things, Rusty strung clothesline between trees for quilt-hanging. We had about 10 beautiful quilts hung in a couple of locations. After testing, we realized how heavy the quilts were, so old-fashioned props were made from 2x4s to provide extra support! Rusty planned out the photo wall, too, and built/wallpapered a fabulous prop photo wall with empty frames for posing.
A giant puff-ball pom-pom and lantern assembly line appeared on the lawn!
There was only so far we could go on Thursday night, so the rest went back into the trailer.
* * * * *
Hm. I spent a good part of Friday at my computer & printer with programs and whatnot, taking time out for some relaxing fun -- manis and pedis with my girls.
By late afternoon, we were back out at the farm for more decorating!
A little something to eat.
Then it was time for rehearsal!
And more decorating!
Having never decorated even a pup tent before, nor even been in a decorated tent, I don't think we did too bad. The whole far end was filled up by a trailer that served as stage for the band and was Rod's domain, as setting up lights and sound for bands is his business, and that helped to provide some oomph & drama in the lighting department.
* * * * *
The girls all met at my house on Saturday morning and together we headed for the salon for hair & breakfast -- the girls made egg casserole, muffins and brought along champagne!
That's Kate, our favorite stylist among favorites, at Shear Chaos applying Ali's make up. Originally, Ali was going to do her own, but was so happy that she let Kate convince her otherwise -- not only for timing, but also because she didn't have to worry a single second about it all day. She looked as fresh and beautiful at 11 p.m. as she did at 11 a.m., though I imagine a good deal of that was the happy natural glow of love. (Too sappy?) (It's absolutely true, though; she glowed so hard it makes me teary to think of it.)
I had my hair done in the first round so I could dash back home to get ready and then out to the farm to oversee preparations. First, though, I dashed across the street, through the first Downtown Appleton Farm Market of the season, taking note of some lovely yarn bombing along the way, to In Times Past gift shop where a good number of my favorite handknits are on display as part of the Fiber Rain project.
With wedding prep and all, I've had to keep my blinders on about that project, but it was fun to participate in some small way! (Truth be told, while I love to see yarn bombs, I'm not too keen on spending my very limited knitting time making them.)
* * * * *
And then we had a wedding!
Ali could not custom order nicer in-laws! I think Jillian is getting used to us, too, and is a bit more comfortable when we gather-babble.
I took very few pictures, as you might imagine, almost all of them with my phone and likely the lamest of them all. But I had fun!
Cupcakes and cake pops were made by Ali's friend, the adorable Amanda Cupcake, along with a lovely little cake for cutting (possibly with a plastic knife)!
One of the (many) highlights of the evening was when my brother, Michael, joined brothers Rod (groom) and Paul on stage -- bandmates years ago, it was a delightful reunion of their band, the original Bad Haji! Karen's the groupie right by the stage taking photos.
And, hey, speaking of Karen, we threw a helluva birthday party for her on Saturday! The band played Happy Birthday and the crowd sang along. It was sweet.
Have you read Katie's Artsy Abroadpost about the wedding yet? You must -- even just to look at the pictures. She took some fun photos.
* * * * *
HIGHLIGHTS and LOWLIGHTS, depending upon your point of view (heh), and (some borrowed) photos all out of order:
It was a blast helping Katie put together a playlist for the wedding. Originally, we thought it would only be played during breaks in the band, but it turned out gettings LOTS of play and it was so much fun!
Everyone looked so beautiful and/or handsome! There were 7 bridal attendants - Jillian, Katie, Maddy, friends/baristas Abbey, Janel, Kristin, and Noel; and 4 groomsmen - Rod's brothers Paul and Mark, my brother Mike, and friend Jon. Jillian wore a pretty white floral dress; Maddy, Katie and Abbey wore red dresses; Janel, Kristin and Noel wore light blue; they all carried simple white hydrangea bouquets. The boys all wore white shirts, turned up at the cuff, with simple gray vests and daisy boutonnieres.
I want to cry -- tears of happiness and joy -- whenever I think of Alison. She was simply beautiful and radiantly happy, beginning to end. My mom's dress was spectacular on her! We'd been trying to figure out a way to incorporate a "something blue" beaded necklace of Sharon's, a remembrance of her, and it was perfect to finish off the bow on the back of the dress!
It took a little planning to orchestrate Ali's arrival via Model T, which was the mother-of-the-groom's idea and a surprise to almost everyone -- especially to Rodney!
How fast do Model Ts go? We finally realized "not very fast," and had no clue how long it would take to get from our house to the farm! We decided that she'd text me when they were at the end of the road. That's when I'd queue the father-of-the bride, the groom & the bridal party to take position, and then be seated myself.
When the last of the attendants began to make their way up the aisle, I texted her, "NOW!"
Then, I watched. Everyone waited. And wondered. More watching, waiting, wondering... I heard Mom & Joe behind me, Mom asking where Ali'd be coming from, Joe telling her, "Vicki knows. Look how she's looking... watch where Vicki's watching..."
When I saw the Model T, I gave Katie the nod and she started the music.
Alison was breathtaking as Rusty helped her from the car! Beaming smile, gorgeous hair, beautiful dress, red bouquet and shoes. It was a fairly long walk from the drive, through a thicket of trees, and down the aisle to her beloved, and the last note of the song played just as they arrived!!
'Twas a very quick ceremony! It might have been the quickest in the history of ceremonies, except that when Jillian was asked for the rings... which I was given the night before to hold... but never thought about after that...
OMG, I FORGOT TO GIVE PAUL THE RINGS TO GIVE TO JILLIAN!!
Horrified! "They're still in my purse... SHOULD I GO GET THEM?"
What kind of idiotic question was that? I still laugh. I dashed -- honestly a 50-yard dash -- back to the tent to get the rings (in my purse, under a table) -- and while I was there heard a low plane fly overhead and my first thought was, "Oh no, they're not crop-dusting today, are they??" It was a neighbor doing a fly-over tribute in his cute red & white plane (so they say, because I didn't see it)!
So I made it back and, even with the delay, it wasn't long before they were all headed back down the aisle to "Happy Together"!
Ever since Wendy The Bookish Girl told me that "Happy Together" played at their recessional, I've told my girls that they had to, too! I believe it was officially okayed at the last minute, but it was! It did! They listened!!
It was fun to visit with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. My mom did wonderfully!!
It was a pot-luck wedding (just like Rusty & I had), with a couple of roast pigs and coffee shop sandwiches for the main course. Guests filled out the menu with contributions of favorite hors d'oeuvres and side dishes. Everyone was encouraged to bring a dish and the recipe, an adorable vintage recipe box ready to receive.
* * * * *
So there it is in a very big nutshell! Now that that's out of the way, I'll share Jena's gorgeous photos when they arrive, with permission and with minimal commentary.
I am still recovering. Ali & Rod are off on a little honeymoon in Door County.
There's still a bit of the afterglow...
*Sneak peak of Ali's Mexican Wedding Shawl above! My niece, Jena, was the official wedding photographer and she took some photos of us with our shawls! I am not used to being on this side of the camera... we are all beside ourselves with anticipation for those photos!!
I volunteer for many things at times like these, and when Ali stalled at the hand-sewing (finishing) phase of a project she was working on for her attendants...
With sachet and shawl knitting complete (though will still some finishing to do), I picked up needle and thread last night and made a good run at the finish line -- not quite there yet, but the sewing was a nice change of pace.
I fell a little bit in love with Natalie Chanin after watching her Craftsy class, Hand-Embellishing Knit Fabric: Stenciling, Appliqué, Beading and Embroidery. I loved listening to her speak so beautifully about sewing, and I learned so much! I smiled every time last night as I cut a length and "loved my thread" before needling it.
I'm looking forward to watching/listening to Natalie again, sometime after June 15th (and again and again and again, as many times as I'd like, because that's how Craftsy works). I have some beautiful fabric and my pattern for the coat featured in the class, but also found some lesser "practice" materials when I recently cleaned out my closet. I feel primed and ready!
The reduction of swelling in my body due to dietary changes has really made a difference and I do not suffer the carpal tunnel problems as much or as readily. I'm sure I wouldn't be quite so excited about hand sewing if pinching a small needle for five minutes resulted in a day of tingling and aching! I did some pretty intense sewing for about 2 hours last night and feel fine today! Woo!
There she is, smack in the middle, flanked by the barista bridesmaids and her two sisters, Maddy and Kate, on the right -- every one of them a bachelorette at the moment.
We had a marvelous little party for Ali, but Katie's presently much better at stringing words together -- along with some lovely photos -- in this post on her blog, Artsy Abroad!
Update: I added one more sachet to the knitting list -- bigger, quicker, finished! Still the blocking and sewing up to do before filling. Sewing still waits, but the ironing is done. I over-dyed and blocked the shawls over the weekend -- am letting them get good and dry before unpinning. So excited!! Rusty finished a project, too, bringing a nice close to a busy and productive weekend. I even squeezed in a pedicure. Ali's dress will likely be picked up on Thursday, leaving only a couple million other little things to do before Saturday...
I'm feelin' 'em. Simply put, and with a few notable exceptions, the first half of 2013 just plain sucked. My mother began treatment for cancer on New Year's Eve and, well, yeah...
She's recovering and getting better, feeling stronger everyday. Yesterday, she had her first PET scan and she is CANCER-FREE!
Now I'm ready for the second half of 2013 and I'm looking for nothing but blue skies!
Who's with me?
P.S. Sachet knitting was finished last night! There's some sewing up to do now before filling, along with some other sewing, and I need to find/buy some ribbon, and there's still some ironing to do, and the over-dyeing/blocking of those shawls, a bachelorette party (with cupcake tasting) to attend, a dress to pick up, and a few million other little things...
Alison's wedding is TWO WEEKS from TOMORROW, and I am now officially ready for it to happen.
Not that I'm "ready" in all senses of the word... or even any sense of the word... there is much to do, and a lot of it will be in the day or two prior.
I'm ready for the anticipation to be over... Let's get the party started!
Knitting: In lieu of the gauntlet/fingerless gloves that were my big idea a long time ago but which never quite got off the ground, I am knitting little sachets for each of the attendants. Ali made a lovely little something for each of them and this will coordinate nicely.
I've had some size 0 US needles (both straights & DPNs) in the arsenal forever, but I don't think I've ever actually used them before. This is a lovely lace-weight yarn, knitting up beautifully on those tiny needles; I'm also knitting some on 1 US, just for grins. They're actually going pretty fast -- the first one was pokey, but I've already knocked off two more and have a good start on the fourth. That's more than half-way!
I'm starting to get scatter-brained, though, because I've already misplaced sachet #1. It must be time to update and refine my To-Do List! I need to get a grip on everything.
The girls at Tuesday knit night talked me off the ledge and I will not be re-doing the bind-off on my shawl for the wedding, so that's a relief. All that's left is a little dip in the dye pot for both shawls and then blocking.
Send all your calming vibes my way... and have a great weekend!
Ali and I took a drive to Sheboygan for the last big alteration consult about her/my mom's wedding dress. The crinoline added since last time made such a difference and added the perfect poof and shaping to the skirt. Some piecing was done at the shoulders, allowing Ali to move her arms (!), and it turned out wonderfully, as well.
We needed to make some final decisons/compromises about satin and bows, and lots of pins were employed before we left, but I left feeling great, more excited than ever, and cannot wait for the final fitting.
It's getting close, now, and seemed a good time to turn attention to the Father Of The Bride! I can count on one hand... um, maybe two fingers... the times in 28 years we've shopped together for him. It actually turned out pretty well... probably helped that we had dinner first. And a moderator. Katie, with her great eye for style, consented to join us!
New pants, new shirt, new tie, new shoes. Not a new jacket; but not the one I thought it was, either. I'm not sure where it came from! Anyway, he'll be pretty dapper. (Not to self: must remind him to get hair cut... and not on the day before the wedding).
Blue Yarn: Intrepid Tulips (formerly Fiber Optica) Sock, color "Urban Night"
Green Yarn: Drops Alpaca, color #2916
White Yarn: KnitPicks Stroll Fingering, color "White"
Finished sweater weighs 120g
Needle: US 3
Start to Finish: April-something , 2013 - April 27 (or so), 2013
It's actually not entirely finished yet. There's the matter of closure. I'm thinking ribbon this time; three, and unevenly spaced.
And the sleeve seams. I've forgotten them both times I've knit this little sweater! Plop it down in front of knitting group or to photograph it, declaring it FINISHED, and oopsie, not quite.
I sure love this blank-canvas pattern! I've been having fun with the color blocking, and it's a great way to use up little bits. Not that I am in desperate need of another scrappy project but, you know, one can only make so many blue hexi-not-puffs!
Having nothing but intensive lace projects in my bag, I may even have cast on a third at Knit Night last Thursday. Why, yes, I did just happen to have the correct needles and yarn along.
Middle size this time. No rush.
I've not been shirking other duties! The knitting for BOTH wedding shawls -- Mexican Wedding and Frambuesa -- was completed over the weekend!! I am very excited. I have a lot of fingering weight left and think I could have knit the larger size of Frambuesa.
Mom's late '50s wedding dress has been cleaned, examined, pulled apart a bit, sewn up some... and now the real work begins! The stays have been replaced, a possible replacement "crinoline" found, ideas hatched... and others ditched.
One of the reasons I've lagged on the fingerless gloves is because I wanted to compare the various "white" yarns I have secured with the newly cleaned "white" dress. There are approximately 1,000,000 shades of white; did you know?
Meanwhile, pearls have appeared and may be favored. It'll be summer... feeling late spring-ish, anyway... and I think the gauntlets are out... but the shawl is still in, so I'd better get to work. And Julia has just released Frambuesa, another lovely shawl, and I think I'm going to also make that -- either for myself or Ali -- using some Make.Do Be Fingering/Sock that I dyed at the same time and matches the yarn I'm using forMexican Wedding.
Today we took a trip to Art Imig's (since 1905) in Sheboygan.
I'd recently asked Facebook for "local" recommendations if one had a wedding dress from the late 1950s that, while just barely spared relegation to the "dress up box," was not exactly treated as a treasured heirloom, and now one's daughter wanted to wear it! Who knew?? I received at least two recommendations for Art Imig's.
The dress is very dirty, having spent a couple of years collecting dust while displayed on a mannequin in my bedroom. There's a splotch of light green (latex) paint on it, and another unidentified stain (possibly beverage), plus a bit of yellowing in certain areas that will probably not ever completely disappear. Mum had done some remodeling of the sleeves herself prior to her Big Day... and there are some additional tears and frayed edges from use and wear and carelessness. It's actually not too bad, considering everything. It fits Ali well to a point, but some alterations will definitely have to be made -- and she has ideas.
Step 1: Clean the dress.
Step 2: Determine overall condition and whether to proceed.
Step 3: If proceeding, further consult with tailoring/alterations.
Both of the women we met with today were very excited about the project, and that makes me feel good.
Then it was time for lunch! We visited Field to Fork and it was delicious! Along with the recommendations for Imig's, there were recommendations for lunch! It looks like there'll be at least a couple more trips to Art Imig's in the coming months, so maybe we'll be able to visit them all!