I don’t know whatever possessed me to crochet my wedding dress. The enormity of it never occurred to me. But, by age 25 I had already been making gifts for friends and family, along with some clothing for myself. It was 1972 after all: crocheting was the “in” thing. (Think granny squares). I had subscriptions to a couple of crochet magazines, so tantalizing with all their suggested goods. I don’t, however, remember ever seeing a wedding dress in any of them. Yet, somehow, four months before the wedding and one month before school was to start up again, I decided: I shall crochet my wedding dress!
My mother lost it. In her defense, I’m sure she wanted to help her only child pick out her wedding dress, which she never had. Also, she understood the enormity of my task. I moved forward. Selecting a Vogue pattern for a simple full length A-line dress with an Empire waist, I now had a flat pattern for the underdress and crocheted pieces. The wedding was in December in Wisconsin and yarn choices weren’t as plentiful as they are now, so I selected creamy white wool for my stitching and cream-colored crepe de chine for the underdress. I was almost ready to begin to crochet.
I needed a crochet stitch pattern and found it in a book of baby blankets. I hoped it would look like lace. I decided to make this lace in two different sizes, using a size E hook for the bodice and size G for the skirt and sleeves. I also chose not to underline the sleeves. I was set, then, ready to start hooking.
Another school year started, and I was “blessed” with lunchroom duty: that wonderful 30-minute interlude in my day watching 400 teenagers eat, throw and play with their food … all while I crocheted my wedding dress. In truth, I talked my colleagues into letting me “guard the gate” into the cafeteria. This meant that I sat on a bench, checking hall passes and allowing one or two students at a time to go to the bathroom. The bathroom go-ers would sit on the bench next to me waiting their turns. “Whatcha doin’?”, they asked. The boys, especially, were very curious about a hook and a ball of yarn that rearranged itself into a new thing. “I’m making my wedding dress”, I’d answer. Then, they’d laugh out loud and lope down the hall to the bathroom. At some point they stopped laughing.
In the evenings I would lay my crocheted piece over the flat pattern to check my progress. Each piece was “finished” when it was slightly smaller than the pattern. The plan was to block the lace to fit the necessary finished measurements. The bodice was done in one piece, the skirt in another, followed by two sleeves. After blocking, they would be sewn together. As it turned out, crocheting the wool was the easy part.
The underdress was fairly simple: bodice, skirt, facings, and an invisible zipper up the back. Each crocheted piece was pulled and stretched and steamed to fit the pattern. In the back I overlapped the pieces slightly to cover the zipper. Then, I sewed the pieces together and tacked the entire crocheted dress to the underdress, about every inch or so by hand, so that nothing would stretch or shift when I wore it. I tried it on … it fit. Whew! But, the whole skirt sort of collapsed around my legs. My mother said, “buckram”, so, off to the drapery store I went, to buy this super-stiff, scratchy underlining which would hold the skirt away from my legs. That, too, needed to be hand tacked to the dress. By this point I had definitely recognized the enormity of this project.
While all this sewing was going on, I was also crocheting the sleeves for my bridesmaids’ dresses. Both accomplished seamstresses, they made their dresses in a silk satin fabric, attaching the sleeves upon completion. The wedding day was about two weeks away when I remembered that I was supposed to wear a veil. Ooops! Out came the crochet hook and I fashioned a simple lcap to which I attached a couple of layers of bridal tulle to make a veil. On the afternoon of my wedding, I handed a pair of scissors to one of my bridesmaids and mentioned that my veil needed trimming. In shock, she took care of it.
My Christmas wedding went off without a hitch. My bridesmaids had holly in their hair, we carried lovely poinsettia bouquets and the Church was filled with candlelight. The windchill that night was 40 below zero and someone had forgotten to bring my coat. As I was entering the reception facility, I overheard a woman say to another, “I’ve never seen a bride who looks like that!” Of course not. It was all mine.
KnitWits: We talk, we laugh, we create. Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Arts & Crafts room #4. Come join us.