Bridal Gowns


Last week, on August 9, Wes and I celebrated the 365-day countdown to our wedding. Yes, we’re less than a year away now. Suddenly everyone is asking about the dress.

I haven’t found a dress yet. My mom and I have gone out looking once, and I’ve been buying bridal magazines like they’re going out of style. Tonight I sat down to catch up on TV and my taped episodes of Knitty Gritty and I found an episode on bridal fashion featuring patterns from Wedding Knits.

I had already thought about making myself a lace shawl to go with my wedding gown, but I had never thought about making my own veil. And I’m still debating about the shawl because I have some gorgeous lacy shawls that my grandmother knit for us, and I’d like to have a part of her with me at my wedding.

On a whim, and because I’m totally nuts, I started Googling “bridal veil knitting patterns” and worse “bridal gown knitting patterns.” We won’t even discuss what I found (there weren’t many, and most of them were for Barbie dolls.. ooops there I went and discussed it), but I did find this:


The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has this wedding dress in its costume collection. The story:

This wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute that saved the groom’s life during World War II. Maj. Claude Hensinger, a B-29 pilot, and his crew, were returning from a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan, in August 1944 when their engine caught fire. The crew was forced to bail out. It was night and Major Hensinger landed on some rocks and suffered some minor injuries. During the night he used the parachute both as a pillow and a blanket. In the morning the crew was able to reassemble and were taken in by some friendly Chinese. He kept the parachute and used it as a way to propose to Ruth in 1947. He presented it to her and suggested she make a gown out of it for their wedding.

She wondered how she was going to make “this voluminuous item” into a dress. Seeing a dress in a store window that was based on one that appeared in the movie Gone with the Wind, she patterned her dress after that. She hired a local seamstress, Hilda Buck, to make the bodice and veil. She made the skirt herself; she pulled up the strings on the parachute so that the dress would be shorter in the front and have a train in the back. The couple were married in the Neffs Lutheran Church in Neffs, Pennslyvania, July 19, 1947. Their daughter and their son’s bride also wore the dress for their weddings.

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