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The Best Gift From The Grandmother Gone! The Wedding Dress For A Princess!

Updated on December 16, 2010

How A Grandmother Gave Her Granddaughter The Best Gift!

The wedding dress for a princess! When my older daughter was getting married, my mother was already gone. She had died at 56, from breast cancer, far too young, but she never really left. The proof of that came in my daughter's wedding dress. A dress made by me, but with my mother guiding my hands. She managed to give her first born grandchild a dress made for a princess, even after she was gone.

My mother was so talented! She was an artist and even at the young age of 17, she was picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue as a young, promising designer. She would draw her designs, make patterns from old newspapers and was the envy of every one of her high school girlfriends. She made dresses for her friends from the time she was 13 years old. They would pay for the fabric and let her have her way with the design. At 18, my mother married and created for herself the most beautiful wedding dress and veil! Made from slipper satin, Italian lace and tiny pearls, it was an incredibly beautiful gown and she looked like a princess. Because my father was in the Navy and travel became part of her new life, she gave up her dream of fashion design to become a wife and young mother. Back then, very few young women pursued having both a career and creating a family. They usually chose one over the other.

When I was born, my mother was only 18, but I was the best dressed baby that anyone ever saw. My mother still designed clothes for herself and me, but that was as far as she ever took her gift. In her 40's, she began to paint and the incredible talent that first showed up as fashion design, soon showed itself in her paintings. When I turned 13, my mother taught me how to sew. I was not particularly talented and can remember spending hours crying because I would have to rip out seam after seam. My mother gave up teaching me after a couple of years. She had taught me enough so that I could handle every fabric, every pattern and actually was proficient enough to turn out some beautiful clothes, but the clothes I made never had that je ne sais quoi that my mother's designs possessed.

When my older daughter decided to get married, I was a single mom and like any single mom of three kids, we lived on a budget. My daughter bought every bridal magazine she could. She searched daily for the perfect dress. We went to a wedding shop. She tried on several different dresses, but none of them seemed right. She was tiny and petite, barely 5 feet tall, just like my mother was and the dresses she tried were made for taller women.

My daughter never knew, but many nights I would cry myself to sleep, asking my mom why she had to leave before she could witness and be a part of the most important days in her grandchildrens' lives. I knew that if she was still here, she would have designed and made a dress for my daughter; a dress made for a princess, like her own was years before. My mother dearly loved her grandchildren. She had a way with them like no one else had. They adored her, too. If only she was still here, everything would be okay.

The Magical Dress From Heaven!

My daughter found the perfect dress. It was in a magazine and made by a famous Greek designer. It was slipper satin, made with Italian lace, complete with a veil to match. The dress was $6,000.00 and the matching veil was another $1,000.00. It was eerily similar to a dress I had seen in pictures, but far more intricate.The price tag was more than half of what we had both managed to save for the entire wedding. It was a masterpiece! I knew that it would look perfect on my daughter, but was far too expensive. I remember looking at my daughter and saying, "I can make that for you." She had no hesitation in her voice and she replied, "Okay." I went to bed that night without a doubt in my mind. There was no way that I could make that dress! As I laid in bed, I told my mom that she was going to have to help me, that she was going to have to make the dress for her granddaughter, that I would help, but she was going to have to do it somehow.

The following week, I bought a basic pattern. I was never good at making my own patterns, so I would use the basic pattern and just change it. We made the trip to a specialty fabric shop and found the perfect satin and then found the Italian lace. The lace alone was $50.00 a yard and we would need 7 yards of lace and 7 yards of satin.The fabric and lace came to well over $500.00. I remember telling my daughter to trust me; that her dress would be beautiful.

I looked at the picture over and over. Finally, I started to cut out the fabric. The pattern I had purchased was no help and I ended up making my own. I cut the dress out and the doubt in my mind disappeared. We purchased the flarest hoop we could find. Yes, the dress was an old-fashioned, full-skirted gown. It was like the gowns that were so popular when my mother got married. The gown needed stays sewn into the bodice. Had I ever sewn stays? No! But I whipped through those stays like a pro! The dress went together easier than anything I had ever made. The scalloped hem was perfect. The floor length veil was beautiful! I had just enough of the lace to do the dress and the veil. There was not an inch of the lace left when I had finished. I designed and made the headpiece that attached to the veil. I made a wedding purse, the garter, the pillow to hold the rings. I even trimmed their crystal goblets in satin ribbon and satin flowers to match her colors. During all of my daughter's fittings, I kept the zipper for last, figuring that she might lose or gain some weight before the wedding. Most young brides (or any brides for that matter), have a hard time eating before their weddings and their dresses have to be altered right before the wedding.

I continued. We bought some silk and I made her a three-piece suit for her to wear when they left for their honeymoon. It was perfect.

Finally, it was time for the zipper. The one thing I always did well from the very beginning was zippers. I remember my mother marveling because it was the one thing she always had trouble with. It was the one thing I always did well. I had to take that zipper out 4 times and couldn't figure out why. I just couldn't get it to go in right. I started to cry and finally, I looked up. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I said, "Alright, mom, you can go. I can handle it from here." The zipper went in on the next try with no problem. I couldn't stop smiling! My mother had made everything! She used my hands to make that magical dress and when she got to the zipper, she had to leave. She and I both knew that it was the only contribution I could make without her. She and I also knew that it was the only part she would have trouble with.

When my daughter walked down the aisle, she did look like a fairy princess. The dress was magical! It was more beautiful than any dress I had ever seen, except maybe for my mom's own wedding gown. I cried just because my daughter was so beautiful! I know that my mom was there and she was crying, too!


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  • Jillian Barclay profile image

    Jillian Barclay 6 years ago from California, USA

    Thank you, Pixienot! This always gives me goosebumps when I think of it. There were so many times after my mom died that I would go to the phone and actually dial her number to tell her something that had happened during my day. I would stop halfway through, and always feel so sad. This experience, however, made me happy and whenever I think about it, I smile. I am sure that we all have similar stories. Like you, I love to hear the happy ones!

  • Pixienot profile image

    Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

    WOW! I'm right there with you. Some really cool memories to hang onto, huh?

    Thank you for sharing this story. You are a good writer and I enjoy hearing about other people's families (as well as my own, of course!

    Keep up the good work.