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Sewing Students Give Wedding Dresses New Life as Baptismal Gowns

Lutheran North sewing students spent the last month transforming 12 wedding dresses into baptismal gowns for hospitalized infants.

It may sound cliché, but senior Tommy Carlson is speaking literally when he says it took blood, sweat and tears to finish his latest project in Sewing II.

Under the guiding eye of consumer science teacher Pam Jagoda, Carlson and his fellow second semester sewing students have spent the last month transforming used wedding dresses into baptismal gowns for hospitalized infants.

“A nurse at a local hospital approached the principal’s wife at (Lutheran North) and she approached me about the project,” Jagoda said. “Parents from the school and local churches donated their wedding gowns and the students made them into baptismal gowns.”

Starting with 12 dresses in total, students used patterns and their own creativity to craft baptismal gowns of all fabrics and designs.

Hannah Schilling had the unique opportunity to use her mother’s wedding dress, while partners Jessica Frocillo and Elise Anderson designed their gown to incorporate the lace and bow that drew them to the original dress.

While Jagoda admits the mechanics of the project were far more complicated than she had initially anticipated, her students say it was the project’s emotional toll that had them feeling the real pressure.

“I was terrified of messing it up for the little babies,” Frocillo said. “I didn’t want to make them look bad.”

But with the finished product in hand, Anderson said the additional stress “was totally worth it." However, she admits she would like to know where her gown ends up.  

“We would have liked pictures of people actually using it,” she said. "It's one thing to make it, but you never know if it's just sitting there."

Fellow classmate Alex Kopek has a similar wish.

“I’d like (the family) to know how much time and effort we put into this,” Kopek said. “I hope they appreciate it and I hope they love it." It was made with love and Kopek’s partner Carlson has the needle pricks on his fingers to prove it.

With the gowns finished and ready to be delivered to Children's Hospital in Detroit, Jagoda said she is thoroughly pleased with the project’s outcome.

“I’m proud and surprised, because when they started the project it was a little more complicated than I thought and I was a little worried how they were going to turn out. But they did a great job and I’m impressed with their ideas and creativity.”

So to whoever sees the gowns, or uses them from this point on, Jagoda said she, like her students, hope they realize “how these kids care about others. This was a very special project and (the students) got really excited about it. I think they’re proud, too, of what they’ve done.”

Jenny Whalen (Editor) May 01, 2012 at 12:51 PM
I think this is an amazing way for a high school class to combine education with community service. Any other project ideas this type of class can do?
Kathy Banasik May 02, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I agree Jenny...what an awesome idea. Wondering if wedding dress donations are needed for more. If so, hope you post and make the community aware. May God bless these young adults who put so much love and care into the project and also the babies wearing them.

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