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The Doily Dress

Designed and Hand-stitched January 2023.

My mom never took me to retail stores growing up; not to be economical, but to be eco-conscious. Instead, we went to thrift stores. This isn’t to say she doesn’t love shopping; she just finds thrifting to be a treasure hunt of fun items for cheap prices, things that usually have more character. So, being my mother’s daughter, I of course think the exact same way. I’m so lucky we’re so alike, and if you know her, how could you not want to be like her? She is a pillar of what it means to be non-judgmental, to be kind to everyone she meets, to live like Jesus did, to have a sense of humor, to be gentle, and to be selfless.

This dress is a dedication to her, symbolized by our love of vintage and thrifting. These doilies were found on our trips to the rummage sale and to the bins. Doilies found at the bottom of bins, seen as rejects, as beautiful trash, my growing collection inspired me to see them as something wearable and an ode to vintage ornamentation. As far as construction, I had loose ideas of what I wanted this dress to look like but I knew I couldn’t bear to cut any of these beautiful doilies. As I draped from top-to-bottom, I allowed the shapes, sizes, and colors of these doilies to do the work for me. I was able to drape the exact silhouette I wanted using the shapes each doily. I used cotton lace ribbon as bias-tape for the antebellum waist, as well as added elastic to the back for more sizing options. I opted to add no straps because I did not want them to distract from the dress itself. On the bottom of the dress, I embroidered three patches: a sun, a heart, and a bird. The sun represents God; feeling seen, feeling held, feeling eternally loved, feeling warm. The heart is a symbol of love to everything that makes me happy; people, animals, good smells, strangers, funny things. The bird is a representation of freedom and independence and self-reliance and the peace associated with it. I am so happy I could give these beautiful textiles a new life while also giving them a new meaning.

Initial Sketching

Photos by Ella Malecki

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