I feel so blessed each and every day to wake up and get to work at home doing a job that I absolutely love! Not only do I get to choose my own schedule, which revolves around my children, I get to use my talents to create and do something new and different every single day.
However, I am a firm believer that when we are blessed with talents, we have a certain responsibility to share some of those talents for the betterment of those in need – to give back a little of yourself to others. I do a lot for charity in all sorts of different areas from pets to children and adults, and my heart is made completely full through it. I can’t change the world, but I can help by changing a very small part of it every day.
This past week, I’ve been working on a gorgeous wedding gown during my free time.
But this wedding gown is a little different than most wedding gowns. This gorgeous wedding gown has already served her glory. She was there for Melissa’s wedding day back in October of 2008. She was there for the photos, laughter, the tears of joy, the vows, the dancing, and many more precious memories of that very special day. This stunning wedding gown has served her original purpose and is ready for the new obligation that awaits her. She’s been hanging in Melissa’s dark closet for years now, and is ready to fulfill a new purpose.
She knows that her new purpose is no longer one filled with happiness, but she’s already been there, and she’s ready to take on yet another very important role. You see, rather than leave this gorgeous dress hanging in a dark closet, Melissa has very generously given her wedding gown to me to be re-purposed into several beautiful gowns for angel babies.
I think that losing a loved one is the most tragic event any person can ever endure, and losing a child is an experience no parent should ever have to suffer. Whether the child was lost while in the womb or out of the womb, at 20 weeks gestation or 20 years of age, the grief of losing a child stays with a parent forever. I am not speaking from personal experience from losing a child, but I am speaking on behalf of mothers and fathers that I have personally known, families that I have helped, and the life of being a parent myself. I have experienced the pain of infertility (before giving birth to two miracle babies) and I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child.
About a year ago, I read about an international non-profit organization called NICU Helping Hands who helps families that are going through the unthinkable, unimaginable journey of losing a baby. What a wonderful organization they are! They offer so many services and resources for suffering families. In 2013, they started a program called Angel Gowns where women donate their no longer needed wedding gowns, and volunteer seamstresses repurpose them into beautiful tiny gowns for angel babies.
After reading about this wonderful organization, I decided to do my own part of helping these suffering families, and I started making gowns for angel babies on my free time. I don’t volunteer through the organization myself, I just do this on my own and donate the gowns to my local hospitals/families. I have been designing for many years, and felt that it was time to use some of my talents to give back to others.
So, this past week, I’ve been working on re-purposing Melissa’s gown for the angel babies, and decided to document it’s transformation.
I will admit, I had to take a deep breath before cutting into this gown! The details were so intricate from the crystal beading placed down the center of the bodice to the corset tie going down the back leading to the gorgeous lace. I had to take some photos of it before I began the transformation.
First step was giving it a cleaning in the washing machine – gasp!! Not to worry, everything was okay, but I don’t recommend doing that to a gown you are going to wear on your wedding day. It’s best to have those professionally cleaned if need be because not all satin is created equally, and you could have a disaster on your hands by doing so.
After being washed and dried, comes hours upon hours of tedious seam ripping. I took every single piece of the wedding gown apart, and removed all the boning. I got quite a lot of nicely sized pieces! What you see in the photo are all the parts that made up that beautiful gown.
After separating and grouping all the pieces, it was time to start cutting out pieces for the tiny gowns for the angels babies. I will be able to make several infant burial gowns from this one wedding dress.
I decided to make this first angel gown with a lace, I took a big piece of the lace from the gown, and cut out the pieces in both lace and satin and then sewed the lace pieces onto the satin pieces. It’s just make it a nicer look and easier to work with if you go ahead and sew them together. This tiny little bodice is only 5″ across.
Satin is a very gorgeous fabric, but can be very challenging to work with because of it’s slipperiness (is that even a word?). So, I always use lots of straight pins to hold it in place. On this angel gown, I decided to do a lace overlay on the entire gown. The style that I make, don’t be recommended for a beginner seamstress. The size of these tiny pieces with so much detail make it extremely hard to work with. But there are much simpler versions of angel gown patterns, if this is something that you would like to make as well.
And after many hours of reconstruction, the first tiny gown is complete. Here’s a before and after pic.
I have to admit, making these tiny gowns is extremely emotional for me. I am happy to admire their beauty, yet I am extremely heartbroken to know it’s new purpose. I wish these were not a necessity. I wish that no family had to experience such a loss. But, as much work as it is, and as emotional as it, it is worth every single second if I am able to help with the grieving process of even one mother.
May those of you suffering this type of grief feel some comfort in knowing that there are people who care about what you are going through, and there are organizations and support systems that are there to help you.
Big ((hugs)) and all my best to you!!
Kimberly D. Calderon, Owner of Ruffles And Ribbon Boutique