a bit of earth



New Life for an Old Wedding Dress

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"Tell me about the 

style of your wedding dress," I asked Chelsea during one of our early meetings. She started by telling me the story of her grandmother's dress whose wedding was in 1951. (Doesn't this photo remind you of "I Love Lucy?!")

Thirty-five years later, Chelsea's mama cut off most of the long train to make a pair of giant Princess Diana puffed sleeves. 


 Here are Chelsea's parents Jean and Walter on their wedding day in 1986.

After two weddings, the dress was done. That and the fact that Chelsea was too tall for it. (And not being Chelsea's style!)

So I had the nerve to suggest I cut up the dress and dye it to make ribbons for Chelsea's wedding. Where do I come up with this crazy stuff?? 


I just love textiles...and dyeing...and ribbons... and repurposing old things. Seemed like a good idea at the time!!

Chelsea's unusual color palette was blush and taupe. She brought a bridesmaid's top and skirt over to color match with a paint swatch wheel. (I find it hard to "remember" exact colors.)

First I washed the dress. (Past the point of no return.) Then one day, when I felt brave, I hacked into it: AAAAHHHHH! Panic, panic. I put my huge enamel dye pot on the stove and started mixin' me up some colors.


I use just blue, yellow, and red dyes to make my colors. I find that using those three colors, instead of two of them gives a more complex "painterly" effect. I tried to get several variations between blush and taupe.  

After they were ironed they reminded me of silky animal skins.


Next I cut them into long streamers with a rotary cutter. Besides having sentimental value, I knew I couldn't have found ribbons in these colors. I liked having so many subtle variations, too.


Here's what they looked like in the studio with all of Chelsea's roses...

You can see how they looked on the bouquets, bouts, and flower girls in my Portfolio section. Or better yet, check out this gorgeous wedding video below (by KevinMoorePhotography.com) to see how they moved.

Dyana Zweng11 Comments