Extreme Recycling: The Bridal Edition

I think it’s safe to say that most brides would like to have something unique about their wedding gowns. Whether it’s a matter of the cut, the trim, a touch of color, or the choice of accessories, most of us want to look bridal but not cookie cutter. Some women have gone to great lengths to avoid having the same-old, same-old dress that everyone else is wearing that season.

And then there’s Major Claude Hensinger and his wife Ruth.

Claude was flying his B-29 on a bombing raid over Yowata, Japan in August 1944 when the engine of the plane caught fire. He and his crew bailed out with their nylon parachutes. During the night while they waited rescue, Claude used his trusty parachute as a blanket and a pillow. After he and his men were rescued, he kept the parachute. When he proposed to Ruth in 1947, he handed her the parachute and suggested she make her wedding gown out of it. She did. Here are the results.


I don’t know about you, but I think it turned out rather well. In fact, it’s now housed in the Smithsonian. It also went on to become a family tradition, worn by both the couple’s daughter and daughter-in-law.

Did you work something sentimental into your wedding look? Do you have plans to do so?

11 Responses to “Extreme Recycling: The Bridal Edition”

  1. C* says:

    I wore my MIL’s Italian lace mantilla but I folded it down 1/3 and pinned it above my bun like a veil. It looked awesome and I really liked having something of hers to wear.

  2. Ari says:

    Not wedding dress exactly, but my grandmother was in the French resistance during the same war and she and her sister who had buried many Allied parachutes when aiding them, after the invasion dug up the chutes and made blouses with the silk. We still have some.

  3. Twistie says:

    That sounds gorgeous and meaningful, C*. I love a good mantilla.

    Ari, that’s a great story. Hang onto those blouses! What a fabulous bit of history to have.

    As for me, I wore my late mother’s tartan arisade and silver brooch on my big day…and I chose to use her wedding ring as my own. I’ve always been glad I did, too.

  4. C* says:

    Awww that’s awesome that you wear your mother’s rings, Twistie. What a great tradition. 🙂

  5. Twistie says:

    Thanks, C*. It’s a bit like still having a piece of her with me. My mother and I were very close. And of course it doesn’t hurt that her ring is very much in my style.

  6. Redblur63 says:

    When the Norwegian and I proposed the first time, he did so by giving me his family’s traditional wedding solje-a silver heart-shaped brooch with dangling tiny silver spoons. These are given to Norwegian brides on their wedding day for good luck and as a symbol of love. I have it in a nice box because by tradition, I can’t wear it until the wedding. Instead of a flower girl, we are having my young niece bring the solje in a basket, and the Norwegian will pin it to my gown after we exchange vows and rings. This first proposal was even more meaningful than the one with a ring, because he chose to do it using a lovely family heirloom and following the custom of his heritage.

  7. Twistie says:

    Oh, Redblur63, I just wibbled. That’s so beautiful.

  8. That’s awesome, Redblurb63! They’re very pretty!

  9. Kimberley says:

    I wore my best friend’s veil and pearl necklace and my maid of honour’s diamond earrings. And in my shoe was a silver sixpence dating from the year of my parents’ wedding.

    Also, and this is the most sentimental, I embroidered a small piece of silk with my groom’s name and mine, and the wedding date, and sewed it inside my gown’s bodice. It kind of covered up a mistake I made trimming some interior seams, but hey- still sentimental!

  10. KES says:

    For my wedding, I’m wearing one grandmother’s dress and pearls, and the other grandmother’s garter and earrings. So my problem is trying to figure out how to inject my personality into all of the sentimentality! 🙂

  11. Twistie says:

    Kimberley, I love the names and date sewn into your gown! What a great way to add sentiment while covering a goof! It’s nice that your friends are willing to share such precious things with you, too. My heart is now nicely warmed.

    KES, I’m sure your personality will shine right on through. And if you’re not sure enough about it, a kickass pair of shoes can do wonders to express your unique self. How wonderful, though, to be able to have something of each grandmother to wear.