I am so absolutely in love with this month's post from Ash. It's one of those stories that makes me so happy. It's a big part of why I love doing this so much, the amazing stories behind all the clothes I find. Makes me so happy to reinvent things; to give things a second run. Enjoy today's post and happy, happy weekend.
The woman in the photo below is one of my mother's best friends from childhood. She's pictured with my dad's college roommate the morning of my parents' wedding in June of 1974.
Her name is Polly, and she died suddenly and tragically just three weeks after that picture was taken due to a mosquito bite infected with encephalitis. I grew up learning all about Polly, my mother speaking fondly of her beautiful friend whose life was taken far too young.
When I pulled a batik patterned polyester dress from the wardrobe of clothes I now have stashed in my home, originally from my mother's attic, and I texted her a quick snap of the dress asking, "What's the story behind this one?," I was not expecting the response: That was Polly's.
I instantly felt a reverence for the piece, knowing that it represented a tragic story about a beloved friend in my mother's life. My mother went on to explain that Polly had worn that dress to one of their many high school proms (apparently proms were a big thing in the late 60s) and later gifted it to my mother.
She recalled sitting on Polly's childhood bed the summer after their first year at college, Polly sorting through her closet of clothes and determining that that dress should be my mother's because of the batik-like pattern. You see, my mother's early childhood was spent abroad in Indonesia, home of batik, so Polly thought it seemed appropriate in my mother's keeping.
Over forty years later, my mother still had the dress. A reminder of a sweeter, more innocent time and a friendship that was cut short, but whose memory shone brightly. I asked if it was okay that I alter the dress so that it could once again be worn, and she agreed wholeheartedly.
I am grateful that I didn't tackle this piece until nearly a half year into this monthly project, as I now have much more experience and understanding of how to sew and properly alter clothing. I spent the most time of any piece working on this, wanting to do justice to this special dress and what it represented. The polyester was a tad intimidating to work with because of the stretch, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do to make this dress wearable for me.
The length was wrong on my six foot build, the sleeves too short, and the bust pulling and stretching so I started by removing the hook and eye clasp from the bust and carefully sewing up the front to secure the bust.
Then, using the pattern of the dress as my guide, I removed a strip of fabric off the bottom, including the hem, and then cut the dress off at the blue patterned area, and reattached the hem to where I had shortened the dress.
I was careful to pin along the lines and try to create a seamless patterned look. I sewed the two pieces together, pressed them down, and was amazed that it really did align fairly perfectly.
Then I took a seam ripper and removed both sleeves. Using the extra fabric from the sleeves, I then creating a binding stripe (Watch out! I made my first quilt earlier this month and that has given me all sorts of tricks that I figured I could apply to make a polished edge for the sleeveless hem). I pinned and attached the binding strip to each arm hole, and whew! It worked!
And now the dress is perfect for summer, and I can share the story of my mom's sweet friend Polly whenever I wear it.
My mother agreed that Polly would most certainly approve.
Thank you for letting me share this very special family story with all of you.
This was absolutely my favorite piece so far in the series has it carried so much love and meaning.
See you next month! xo Ash