When I saw the exquisite work of Annette Blair in a mutual sewing group I had to know more. Annette was kind enough to grant me an interview about her life as a dressmaker and the project itself.
A Century Of Wedding Dress Fashion
Let's begin with the dresses and the decades they represent. Annette volunteers for a charity called Angel Gowns Australia, offering families who have suffered loss of an infant, a beautiful angel gown made from fabrics from donated wedding dresses. When fundraising was needed for new gift boxes she offered to make the dresses in 1/3 scale for display purpose and cost reasons. They measure only 20 inches high.
It took Annette six months to make the scaled paper mache dress forms and the 10 Wedding dresses in full detail.
"I had to search for fabrics and laces to suit the scale and era from the remnants of the donated dresses. I loved every minute it took to complete my project."
Annette made her first dress at the age of 8, she says she still remembers exactly how on an old treadle sewing machine. Mostly self-taught with the help of her dressmaker mother and inherited skills from her English ancestors, learning to self draft patterns from books and experimenting with different styles.
She began her bridal sewing career with her first wedding dress for a neighbour's daughter, and in 1988, opened a small Designer Boutique with a friend and employed seamstresses to help out. By 2003 she had received numerous industry awards including 5 “Designer of the Year”. Not to mention all while raising 3 children.
As for now, Annette is currently retired from the biz in Australia, where she has been happily married for 57 years and counting. Pre-Covid times her and her husband spent their time travelling overseas and she only sews for fun now.
"I have always wanted to make wedding dresses through the decades of the 20th century. Even though I had already covered the last 40 years of styles when I was working."
Well, mission accomplished and these dresses she created are a true testament to her skill as a designer and seamstress. Her passion for beautiful gowns and dedication toward practicing her abilities lead her to a fulfilling and successful career. Thank you Annette, for sharing your project with us.
*Photos by Annette Blair, used with permission.