The Last Hurrah

Aliya, newly turned 4 years old

Aliya, newly turned 4 years old

This was posted a few years ago.  I came across it while looking for another photo and think it is worth posting again.  Aliya continues to be a delight and a beauty.  The dress is now scrap. But as I distribute the outgrown garments from our last and final granddaughter, Vivian Rose, the message is still meaningful.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Seeing little girls in heirloom dresses just makes me purr with happy contentment.  And seeing a dress I made so long ago come back to life on another beautiful child is one more dividend for the time and effort that went into making it.


A standing

Everything they say about the timelessness of heirloom clothing is true.  Twenty-nine years ago, my blue eyed blond Rebecca frequently wore this to church as well as a few weddings.  She was a veritable Vision of Loveliness.  Then it was on loan to my dear friend Gale for her towheaded, blue-eyed Anna, Vision of Loveliness #2.  Anna wore it as much as Rebecca had.

Next it was loaned to another friend for brown haired, brown-eyed Cameron, VOL #3.  And a few days ago, golden-skinned, brown-eyed Aliya wore it to church and then to visit her great grandmother.  In my eyes, she stole the VOL crown from her predecessors.

Aliya’s mother is one of my Rebecca’s best friends.  When we tried the dress on Aliya, I was reminded of Cinderella’s glass slipper, meant for one specific young lady.  It seems the dress was waiting all these years for Aliya to bring it to the peak of its beauty.  And of course, the beauty is really this child.

Gazing at Aliya in this frock immediately takes me down Memory Lane.  As I look at the interesting features, I am a little surprised that I had enough confidence to take this on, as I had only been doing heirloom sewing for 18 months.  But then, I had extra motivation.

In the midst of planning her first Huntsville School of Art Fashion in the little blue house on Madison Street, Martha Pullen called asking me to teach a class on lace portrait collars.  “But Martha,” I lamented,” I have never made one!”  Martha calmly replied, “Well, the school is not for 5 months.  Surely you can learn!”  She has always instilled confidence in others.

collar scan

The collar is detachable.

So learn I did.  And I can promise you that every collar was as flat as a pancake.  I don’t know how many collars I made before I tackled this dress for a class sample but by the time the school came around, I could have hung a shingle declaring Professional Portrait Collar Maker.  Well, maybe Semi-Professional….

But back to the features of this dress.  Aside from the portrait collar of lace insertion, beading, edging and ribbon, the sleeve ruffle uses an interesting technique.  Details for the circular styled sleeve trim is detailed near the end of an earlier post.

A sits hands

Notice the circular sleeve ruffle.

The skirt fancyband consists of growth tucks and  a simple row of lace insertion surrounded by entredeux  threaded with floss.


That lace was not well inserted!

The ribbon carriers are made of entredeux with gathered lace edging.  Floss is threaded through the entredeux, mimicking the fancyband.

ribbon carrier

I wonder just how many times this dress has been worn and laundered.    Close inspection of the portrait collar shows that threads have been breaking down for some time.  Whatever the number, at Aliya’s visit with her great-grandmother, where these photos were taken, the dress was worn for the last time. The lace in the fancyband tore away from the entredeux and cannot be repaired without more trouble than it would be to make another.

But what does it matter?  I have seen four precious little girls look and feel like princesses wearing this dress.  I have no regrets that this was its last hurrah.

18 responses to “The Last Hurrah

  1. Breathtaking is all I can say. Martha Pullen is having a retreat in our area in Sept I would sew love to go to one someday but this one is for baby lock machines so I will have to miss out. Your work on all the childrens things is stuning

  2. So beautiful! I adore beautiful heirloom clothing for children, but sadly, I have never attempted anything of this caliber. I would love to take an heirloom sewing class one day. In the meantime, I will just drool over all your lovely creations!! Each and every one is a masterpiece!

  3. Stunning! I LOVE that four little girls have worn and loved this dress! I would FAR rather an heirloom dress wear out than sit in a closet because people are afraid to have their children wear them. What memories!

  4. Debby, you would love a Martha Pullen event and the fact that it is Babylock should be no problem. The Babylock and Brother machines are so user friendly. What you learn can readily be applied to any machine. It is such a shame for you to miss out when it is in your area. Thanks for your kind comments about the children’s clothes. This dress really came alive for Aliya.

  5. Oh, Dorothy, just pick up one of the many fabulous heirloom sewing books and give it a whirl. It is so much easier than it looks! Thank you for your sweet words. Aliya makes this dress bloom.

  6. She’s gorgeous in that dress! And I LOVE that lace circle sleeve!

  7. Aliya is an adorable little girl and I was so happy that the dress fit her–even for one last wearing. That circular sleeve ruffle is one of my favorite treatments. I personally prefer slightly gathered to fully gathered lace, but I wanted a long lace ruffle. So this suited me–and it’s easy to do. I’m flattered that you like it, Jo.

  8. Karen, you expressed my feelings perfectly. ” I would FAR rather an heirloom dress wear out than sit in a closet because people are afraid to have their children wear them.” Ditto ditto ditto!!!!!

  9. Oh Janice, the dress is just beautiful. I love every detail. Your work is always magnificent and the lovely princess Aliya does indeed provide a perfect match for this princess dress.

  10. Thank you, Sivje. The dress played second fiddle to Aliya who just glowed in it.

  11. What a delightful story & lovely dress!!

  12. Janice, This little dress is spectacular and I loved reading how lovely little Aliya brought it to life one last time. She was truely a vision of lovliness.

    And never again will I look at beautiful but worn out heirloom garments the same way after reading this post. Instead of be-moaning the loss of the garment, now I will imagine how many times it has served so well to delight some little person. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

  13. Thank you, Glenda. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about little Aliya and this dress’s last fling.

  14. Linda, your comment about how you will look at worn out heirloom clothes really hit home. I, too, will always wonder just how many children glowed in tired out heirloom clothes.

  15. My sweet Aliya was a vision in this wonderful dress. I can not express the love and gratitude I have for allowing her to wear a such stunningly beautiful work of art. She looked and felt like a princess. Janice, you are the best Nana. Thank you for the wonderful visit! For those of you who read her blog, this is a woman of many talents, on our visit she made the most wonderful homemade peach cobbler. You are truly a inspiration! We are truly blessed that Aliya had a chance to wear it and sad it is beyond repair, I wish V could have had a turn too! Thank you Janice! You are amazing!

  16. Zahra, it was SUCH a pleasure to have you and your children visit. The only thing better than hearing my grandchildren laugh is hearing more children laughing while they play. It was such a fun day and I was so happy to see that dress worn one time more. Aliya was the perfect model for it.

  17. Love it. Love the stories of it being passed along. Beautiful, Janice.

  18. I’d rather see an heirloom/smocked dress plum worn out than discovered at the bottom of a cedar chest 30 years from now.

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