And speaking of special keepsakes from baptisms

(If you can call a formerly poop-encrusted magnetic stone swallowed by an older sibling of the baptized baby a keepsake, like I obviously do.)

One of my lovely readers, Mary Lou of San Antonio, Texas, recently shared some pictures on Facebook of the baptism gown she made with her own two hands for her beautiful new granddaughter, Emma. All baptism gowns are special by their very nature, but the thing that caught my eye about this one in particular is that Mary Lou made it from her vintage 1974 wedding dress. 

The craftsmanship is simply stunning. But I was particularly drawn to the history and sentimentality of the fabric and trim. I asked Mary Lou for more details and this is what she told me:

I wasn’t able to use the satin because it had yellowed.  Besides, it was too stiff for a baby, in my opinion.  I used the sheer overlay from my dress and underlined it with new broadcloth.  I also trimmed Emma’s gown with the lace from my dress to which my mom, my four sisters, and I had sewn hundreds of translucent sequins 37 years ago. The tiny buttons on the back of Emma’s gown were from an old sewing box that belonged to my husband’s Aunt Emmie.

I am so deeply touched by Mary Lou’s story and her longstanding family traditions.

If I had found this on Pinterest, I probably would have pinned it onto my “Damn, I suck” pinboard, which is what I do when I find yet another thing I never did or probably never will do with/for/about/in honor of my clearly neglected children. But my love/hate relationship with Pinterest is a post for another day.

No, because I discovered this little gem on Facebook, handmade and posted by one of my Facebook friends, I was able to bypass the guilt and go right to appreciation mode.

I mean, really! A vintage wedding dress, hand-beaded decades earlier by her own family, repurposed into a baptism gown for the next generation? It’s so creative, sentimental, spiritually rich, and environmentally friendly!  Being a crafty, God-loving, and somewhat green girl myself, I have a special place in my heart for Mary Lou’s gorgeous creation and felt compelled to share it with you all.

Now before you go beating yourself up for having never done something fabulous like this your own self, you should know that Mary Lou has been sewing since she was a little girl. It’s always been her passion. She used to sew clothes for herself, her sisters, and even her Barbie Doll. Eventually, she became a homemaking teacher so she could share her passion with others.

That there is a picture of four generations of Mary Lou’s family. Pictured from left to right: Meemaw, Amanda, Mary Lou, and baby Emma. That bonnet Mary Lou is holding was made for little Emma by one of Mary Lou’s sisters out of Meemaw’s vintage 1953 wedding gown.

Stay with me, people.

Sentimental sewing is a longstanding tradition in Mary Lou’s family:

I think each of the women in our family have sewn our grandmother’s wedding lace to our wedding petticoats, in addition to wedding rings and hankies from various family members.

Mary Lou also handmade a lace hanky years ago that has since made the rounds in various sacraments through the generations as baptism bonnets, handkerchiefs, and wedding bouquet ribbons. Who knew a hanky could be so versatile?! Not me, I tells ya.

That same hanky, pictured above on Mary Lou’s daughter Amanda’s wedding bouquet, was recently tucked into Amanda’s son Dylan’s pocket at his baptism. Mary Lou hopes that he’ll one day give it to his bride and that his children will have it with them at their baptisms as well.

Mary Lou is obviously a gifted seamstress. But I just love how thoughtful and sentimental she is about so many little details. That is truly a gift that will keep on giving for generations to come. What an inspiration!

I had my wedding dress “preserved” (or so I thought) back in 1997 right after my big day. I took it to a dry cleaner who supposedly specialized in wedding dress preservation and paid the big bucks so that one day I’d be able to hand it down to my daughter or granddaughter like I guessed I was supposed to do. Sadly, the process they used totally removed the white color from the overlay, turning my once beautiful white dress into a tarnished beige color. (Oh hold your snickering, Evelyn… I know you always thought it was wrong for me to be married in white in the first place! Bitch.)

Anyhooo…I have kept my tarnished dress in that ginormous acid-free cardboard “Wedding Chest” for all these years, never knowing what I’d do with it. Mini-Me is not going to want a brown wedding dress…even if it does complement the poop-tainted magnet pendant I’ll be making for her one day.

And now that I’m on a mission to clear the clutter from my life and get organized, I’m thinking about that damaged wedding dress and all the cool things I could make out of it for family heirlooms. All because of Mary Lou!

Baby Emma and her “MimiLou.”

Yes indeedy! You best believe that my kids and grandkids will be sporting little bits of my tarnished vintage wedding gown someday in everything from ring bearer pillows, to hankies, to fancy heirloom bibs and burp cloths. Shoot, with the size of my train, people are going to get mighty sick of all the heirloom hand sewn items soon to be coming their way. Can’t you just hear me now: “Sweetie, you be careful with that custom Trapper Keeper Science Binder Cover! Grandma made that ‘specially for you out of my vintage wedding gown.” Or “Make sure you have those kitchen towels dry cleaned, they’re handmade from my wedding dress, you know.” Or, “Hon, did your poker buddies like the coasters I made?” 

Hey, a girl can dream.

I am linking this to Org Junkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing series because I am so motivated by Mary Lou to someday repurpose old, unused or damaged, sentimental “clutter” into new family heirlooms my family will treasure for generations to come. I hope this post can inspire other crafty friends on the decluttering and organizing journey to do the same!

with love, admiration, and inspiration,

-Iris

 

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