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circa 1948 wedding gown questions

susanna | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Hi. I am refashioning my mom’s wedding gown for my daughter. It is a heavy ivory satin. My mom thinks it is silk. I wonder if it is rayon. The fabric was bought in 1948, and my grandmother sewed it. What is a good way for me to test a piece of the fabric in order to determine its true fiber content?

   I am very curious about it.I will be adding appliques to parts of it as well as redoing the modesty piece at the neckline. For the latter, my mom says grandma used silk french illusion, same as her veil- these are now lost- and the veil was edged in silk lace.

   Where can I find silk lace, silk appliques, and silk french illusion?

   It’d be great to find these items and truly honor grandma, mom, and my daughter with a gown to continue handing down.

   I would appreciate any comments on this. Thank you!




  1. jandheurle | | #1

    Try Lacis on the web for silk tulle.  This is an expensive item, so be prepared to pay!  Keep in mind that, if the fabric is silk satin, you will mar the surface when you put on your appliques.  It sounds like a very fine gown, in the interest of historic preservation, you might consider leaving the dress as it is.

    1. susanna | | #3

      I'd like to preserve the dress as is, but there is a yellow stain on one side of the bodice, noticeable, but small enough for an applique. I'm pondering making my own applique(s) of silk. Also, the train has a mud stain near the hem, and I am wondering if I should band it, cut and rehem it, applique that too (my least favorite choice) or what. Nontheless, it's daunting fun to do so far. Thanks for the input!

    2. susanna | | #5

      Thanks for the advice to try Lacis. Sticker shock! But, this is not just a dress.

      I have to go try those burn tests.

      Just got on the computer. I work until 5, so am slow in replying but appreciate these comments very much.

      1. jandheurle | | #6

        I wonder if a lace overlay would disguise the stain on the bodice; as for the mud stain on the train, have you tried a little soap and water with gentle rubbing with a soft cloth.  It might come out.  Dry cleaning does not remove dirt, only "body soil."  My feeling is that if your grandmother used silk tulle, she probably used silk fabric as well, but I could be wrong.  People were initially very excited about rayon when it was first invented; they even called it artificial silk.  Besides the burn tests, if you just go to a fabric store and see and feel their silk satin, I doubt you will have trouble identifying the material of your dress.  Do keep us informed about your progress.

        1. susanna | | #7

          After snipping several tiny pieces and conducting burn tests on them, it looks like mom was right: it is a silk satin fabric. Thank you for all the help!

           My dad built a nice tall cutting table for me that I'll be using to rework the gown on. 6 feet long and 36" wide. I have to pad and cover it and move things around in my sewing room to accomodate it. The wedding is in June, and I'll be up in that room all winter, I think.

           I plan on taking photos of the work in progress and will probably be asking a LOT more questions.



  2. Elisabeth | | #2

    You could try the burn test which is described here http://www.fabrics.net/fabricsr.asp

    Silk tulle, or silk illusion, can be a little difficult to find but it does exist. Same with silk lace. I wonder if searching vintage clothing or linens shops for a shawl or garment or even a cut of yard goods in a lace you like would be worthwhile. Such lace may have the same fine antique color the dress has.

    What an amazing project. It will truly be a special dress for your daughter. I am trying to imagine the dress, I am hoping you have a picture to post?

  3. SkiNsew | | #4

    Here is another site that give detailed info about the "burn test"



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