Wedding-dress made from life-saving parachute


29 Responses to “Wedding-dress made from life-saving parachute”

  1. Sandra Lewis says:

    My parents, both Captains in the Army Air Corp during W.W.I, were married in Paris, France on March 8, 1945. They had both a civil service and a church service both attended by many military personnel including the general for whom my mother was personal assistant. Mother’s dress was made in France from my father’s parachute. Dad flew 25 missions over Germany in his B-17 named “Rum Boogie and His Cocktail Kids” and flew with the 447th Bombardment Group. Their wedding was featured in Bride Magazine’s March 1945 issue.
    Dad died of cancer August 21, 1999, and mother is 96 years old living in St. Francis Healthcare Center in Breckenridge, MN.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You can get parachute wedding dresses (and other dresses) these days too: Nike Kondakis, a designer currently living in Kenya works with Masai women to create beautiful recycled parachute designs:

  3. Mister44 says:

    Soooo… he’s a cheapskate and a thief. Yeah – let’s put that on display.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have a scarf my grand mother made my dad from part of his parachute…

  5. Anonymous says:

    What an absolutely gorgeous wedding dress, and to think that it was worn also by the daughter and daughter-in-law! Simply beautiful.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My grandmother’s dress was also parachute silk, since she was married in 1945 and silk was rationed. It has held up amazingly well for the past sixty years. My mom altered it and wore it for her wedding in 1979, and I altered it again and wore it for my wedding in 2008. And amazingly it survived a trip through my wash machine! (After sixty years it had acquired a bit of an…odor. Washed right out though!)

  7. jackie31337 says:

    Somebody here probably knows the answer to this: at what point did they switch from using silk to using nylon for parachutes? I was under the impression that silk couldn’t be industrially produced on the scale they needed, and that was the reason for the switch to nylon. I also remember hearing about women drawing stocking seams on the backs of their legs after nylon was rationed.

  8. fergus1948 says:

    I like the theme of love and thankfulness that runs through this article.

    Some weddings of course lead to lives of pain and despair as this wedding dress made of pins by UK artist Susie MacMurray amply illustrates…

  9. fergus1948 says:

    Re; Susie MacMurray’s dress…

    Ha, idiot! I just saw the title – “Widow!”
    Homer moment!

  10. Vnend says:


    What happened to ‘given’?

    • ebarrett3 says:

      “Gifted” is proper museum-speak for a donation with no restrictions placed on it. It is a gift to the museum that they have to properly site on their insurance, taxes, collections database, etc etc

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        ‘Gifted’ is also IRS-speak. If you gift someone cash or equivalent up to $13K, it’s tax free. If it wasn’t gifted, it would be taxed as income.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Back when “Hitting the silk,” meant actual silk.

  12. Brainspore says:

    Also how Hammer’s tailor made all those pants.

  13. Rich Keller says:

    Dang, that’s touching! Used for two generations…

    I’m surprised that this story wasn’t used as a detail in some WWII movie.

    • grimc says:

      There’s a scene in “Band of Brothers” where one of the officers reveals that he’s been lugging his D-Day parachute around, to give to his fiance as wedding dress material.

  14. only_erin says:

    Cheapskate? Try thrifty.

    The country is still recovering from the Great Depression, I have some really nice material (that means something to me). I’m going to be married soon. Let’s re-use this parachute!

    Seeing as Hensinger and Ruth probably both spent the better part of their lives NEEDING to re-use everything, this comes as no great surprise.

    As for thief…when parachuting behind enemy lines, the troops were told to bury their chutes to hide any evidence they were there…I don’t believe the government went back to dig them up later. They knew they were not going to be returned, so when a couple of chutes didn’t come back because some sentimental men brought them home, I’m pretty sure the government didn’t blink an eye. After what this guy went through, I don’t think anyone was lining up to have the chute returned.

  15. sigismund says:

    this was not unusual at these times : you can see another one made from a bomber pilot’s parachute at the Caen memorial center, Normandy, France :

  16. Anonymous says:

    There’s another one on display in the Iowa Historical Museum in Des Moines. It came from a cargo parachute though.

  17. Anonymous says:

    From what I understand, this was pretty common. My grandmother’s wedding dress was made from a parachute although it wasn’t one of the ones my grandfather used as a paratrooper.

  18. Anonymous says:

    The civilian motto of the time was “Use it up, make it do, or do without”. We certainly didn’t look at this as being cheap. Or at least cheap wasn’t frowned upon as it is now because everybody was being cheap. Being as wasteful as we are today would have been tantamount to treason back then.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Use it up,
      Wear it out,
      Make it do
      Or do without.

      And I’m pretty sure that it was in use in the 19th century or before, at least in New England. My mother turned old tablecloths into aprons, and then into laundry bags as they got rattier, not to mention turning my collars and cuffs. Our furniture from when I was a small child was constructed by my father and upholstered by my mother. And of course, they built the outhouse, as well.

  19. turn_self_off says:

    More then one wedding dress was made from parachute silk during the occupation years in norway.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Remarkable. Beautiful in sentiment and design. Poetic and wonderful.

  21. Mister44 says:

    I was being facetious. :o)

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