A repurposed wedding dress can become a beautiful infant burial gown for a baby that never made it to its full term. It’s called an angel gown, and it can help comfort grieving parents when nothing else can.
The gowns are made from donated dresses, with sizes ranging from those fitting the tiniest preemies to full-term babies that do not survive birth or their time in the hospital, due to complications from prematurity or other reasons. They are offered to hospitals and birthing centers, and sometimes directly to families for free.
During her pregnancy, Brandy Williamson of Durham, North Carolina, thought her unborn baby was healthy and strong, so when she started having problems in the second trimester, she didn’t think much of it at first. But one day, a doctor told her that she was suffering from severe placental abruption. It was a devastating diagnosis, and she was given just four days to make memories with her daughter, Karolina.
Then she saw an article about a volunteer group in Texas that turns wedding dresses into angel gowns for families who have lost their babies. It inspired her to start a similar project in the Capital Region of New York. “I want to make sure no grieving parent has to look through the lost and found tub at the hospital for something to bury their child in,” she says. “Or have to go out and spend money on a special outfit for their little angel.”
Edith Hauer of Darwin, Minnesota, was one of the early volunteers for the Angel Gowns Project, now with more than 500 seamstresses across the country who work to create the final outfits for infants who do not survive birth or their time in the NICU. Each gown is handmade and comes with a knitted hat and blanket, a keepsake charm in the shape of a heart or cross and a Bible verse. It is designed so the baby can be dressed, wrapped and buried in it. Each dress that is donated can become about 10 little angel gowns.
For many, it takes a lot of courage to donate a wedding dress. But the reward of knowing that a dress will be transformed into a tiny garment for an angel baby is worth it.
If you would like to donate a wedding dress or other satin fabric, you can do so through the website for the Capital Region of New York at angelgowns.org. The seamstresses also need white and ivory thread, white and ivory 1/4-inch fabric ribbon and tiny white and ivory pearl buttons. Other supplies they need include Tide PODS, OxiClean laundry spray and Ziploc bags in one to two gallon sizes. The organization also accepts monetary donations. Donors can sponsor a dress for a seamstress who can’t afford to pay for the materials she needs to make the gowns. They can also donate wedding dresses they no longer wear or a gift card for a local bridal store.