It was antique white. The softest cotton sateen you have ever felt in your life. The type of fabric that has wonderful drape and you just want to wrap yourself up in from head to toe. The type of fabric that if you bought it made into bed sheets would be marked "Luxury". Which is precisely what it was - luxurious and heavenly. The Peter Pan collar with matching bow and sash were a soft rose color in the same fabric. I could hardly refrain from petting it - stroking the fabric over and over, thinking that this was how my babies felt after a bath, fresh and powdered - so soft and smooth. Along the bottom of the skirt was a scenic panorama of Paris - drawn with spots of color here and there in the palest of pinks and roses. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe - other buildings - a little cafe, a museum. Just . . . gorgeous. The style was simple - slightly high waisted, full gathered skirt, straight bodice with cap sleeves. The little collar and sash with bow were not elaborate either - but still, the dress was elegant in its simplicity; sweet and innocent in presentation, heirloom reminiscent - perfect for my little girl, and the size was just right. I splurged. The dress wasn't terribly expensive - it costs me more to fill my gas tank even just once. Still, I did hesitate the slightest bit, and then because it was her birthday the following week, I chose to bring it home. When my little girl saw it for the first time - her mouth opened in a round "O". She brought her hand up hesitantly at first, but then touched the dress, unable to resist. Running her hand down the skirt she said "Oh - it's a Paris dress!" She has never been to Paris except via her Madeline books and videos. Still, to her, Paris meant this dress was something special.
Since it was a dressy dress - I let her wear it the Sunday before her birthday. Her older sister helped dress her in it. My little girl looked so perfect it made me cry. My oldest daughter had pulled just the front part of her little sister's curly strawberry blond hair back and caught it with a ruffled satin bow barrett. She wore the dress with a little pointelle knit sweater, tights and burgandy velvet shoes with satin bows on the toes - a little purse to finish the outfit off and voila! Just perfect, absolutely picture perfect - though, because we were in a hurry to get out the door to church on time, I didn't grab the camera. After all, I figured there was plenty of time later for pictures - because the dress was ours.
The day wore on. Church was over. I stayed - choir, a youth activity, Matt brought the children home. Jessica had planned a special Tea Party for her and Sadie. They wore their dresses - Jessica took a few pictures. A nice little "outing" - though I missed it.
Sometime after the Tea Party ended, Sadie and two of her brothers found their way into a craft project Jessica had been working on. One that involved black craft paint. None of them had changed out of their church clothes. I asked for the dress - Sadie had changed out of it by then, but upon verifying verbally that she had indeed been wearing it during the black craft paint catastrophe - I had a horrible sick feeling. Jessica brought me the dress. She had tried to clean the paint off. She attempted this using bleach. I imagine she must have been absolutely horrified when the rose sateen began to turn a horrible and spotty shade of orange. She was not the only one who shed tears upon surveying the wreckage. Garrett's and Adam's clothing were also affected - though only with the paint. Their dress shirts, Adam's pants and a sweater covered with splotches of black paint. Their disarray did not provoke emotion on the same level as the state of the dress however.
I am hoping to salvage it somehow. The bulk of the dress was white - so the bleach didn't affect the color too adversely there. I think with a little effort gently applied, the black spots of paint will come off. The sash and collar are completely ruined. Fortunately I am possessed of some sewing ability and I think I can replace the collar and sash with something else. Though, of course it won't be the same - I doubt I will be able to find the same sateen fabric in the perfect shade of soft rose.
I am grateful Jessica took pictures during their tea party. However, upon looking at the few she took, realized that I do not have one shot of the dress in its entirety.
Here it is - all I have of the dress in its former glory. For the rest however, I will have to rely upon my memory only of a perfect little curly haired girl in the perfect dress.