Saturday, August 24, 2013

Block 52 - Sister's Choice

I was surprised that Sister's Choice was not one of the blocks Ms. Brackman chose for the Grandmother's Choice quilt, and almost from the beginning, had an idea for a family story to tell to go with the block.  I made the block in the greens and golds I think of when I think of Faye's house.

I'll let my sister Joyce tell her Sister's Choice story.

Sometime after Grandpa's disabling stroke, Mom moved him to the Glen Ellyn house so she could take care of him in his last years. Grandma still lived in the Elburn house but eventually, when she was in her nineties, taking care of the old house by herself was too much. As she prepared to move to an apartment in Kaneville, her daughters all helped to go through her possessions, including the boxes in the attic. Among them, everyone was surprised to find a silk dress and the shoes I photographed for Cheryl's Week 19 - Old Maids Ramble post. Grandma was surprised too - it was her wedding dress and she kept saying it was not possible because, she repeated, "I burned that dress!" (In those days, people in the country burned their household refuse.) Obviously, she had not burned it - perhaps Grandpa was designated to do the job and couldn't bring himself to? In any case, the dress came down from the attic, where it was examined in detail. I tried it on so Grandma could see it.

Joyce in Faye's 1913 Silk Wedding Dress
Grandma's mother, our great grandmother Carrie, made the dress, and we all marveled at the techniques she used. This dress was an extremely up-to-date style for its day, as evidenced by the Butterick pattern illustration Cheryl used in the Week 19 post, and in this photograph from the New York Public Library collection. They say this is Margaret Wilson, but from reading the Wilson family history, this must be Jessie Woodrow Wilson, who was married in the White House in November 1913 (Margaret Wilson never married.)

Image courtesy of the New York Public Library. Their record at this link.
Notice the touches of lace, the detail of the gather in the hem of the skirt and the blouson style of the bodice of both dresses.

Silk is very strong, but unfortunately, it used to be treated in a way that destroyed the fibers. Hiding in the attic for decades undisturbed, the dress held together but by October 1988, when I was going to get married, it had shattered and was not wearable. Mom copied the design, making a pattern by tracing off the seam lines of the original dress, so that I could wear it more than 75 years after Grandma and Grandpa's wedding.

Joyce and Don

Unlike the silk, the original lace was in good condition. Mom was able to use it to trim my dress. The sleeve detail is shown in this photo of Dad walking us down the aisle.

Cheryl made her dress and chose a pattern that repeated the gathered hem detail of the original dress in her lace over-blouse. She also copied the decorative buckle on Grandma's dress best shown in these photos.

Although Grandma did not live to see me get married, Mom finished the remake about a month before the wedding, and Grandma got to see me in it when it was done. It was wonderful to be able to wear the dress for my wedding as a tribute to my grandmother and her long lasting marriage to my grandfather.


Faye and Fielding at the front door of the Glen Ellyn house, probably in the mid to late 1970's.


Sherrye said...

Very special your narratives to go with each block....this one being so touching!

Dorry said...

Your block is very well done - the fabric choices make it quite serene. Thanks for sharing the story of Joyce's wedding gown. I hope Joyce didn't burn her dress! Is there any of the lace available for her daughters to use should they want?

Anna Banana said...

What a sweet story!

Joyce said...

Dorry, all of the original lace was used in the remake of the dress in the same way it was used in the original, so if we are willing to take the remake apart, the lace would be available for use in a new design.