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Stitch in time for Abby

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 08:00 27/11/2012
Parachute Cloth

WEARING HISTORY: Scott Pearce and Vicky Willmott with daughter Abby, 7 months old, wearing a christening dress made of her great-grandfather’s World War II parachute.

Parachute Cloth
SEWING HEIRLOOMS: Christine Pearce with the christening dress she sewed for her granddaughter.

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A silk parachute used by a soldier in World War II has been converted into a christening gown for his 7-month-old great-granddaughter.

Stan Hoare, now deceased, fought with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in Bougainville and Guadalcanal almost 70 years ago.

His wife Betty Hoare, 90, has kept his parachute in storage and three months ago passed it on to her daughter Glenfield woman Christine Pearce.

"I thought it would make a beautiful dress because of the material.

"But it is so fine, it's like air, so I half expected it to fall to pieces," she says.

Ms Pearce spent hours painstakingly sewing pieces of the silk parachute into a delicate gown for her granddaughter Abby's christening ceremony on November 18.

"Luckily it is made to hold 80kg soldiers so it is stronger than it looks," she says.

Fine embroidery work on the gown and undergarment was then added by Mrs Hoare.

"It is a family heirloom," Ms Pearce says.

"It was quite special for Abby to have worn something that once belonged to her great-grandfather and she looked just gorgeous in it."

Fabric for clothing, including silk, was scarce just after World War II.

Parachutes became prized possessions because they included up to 65 metres of silk and were commonly made into wedding dresses as a way for brides to recognise the war service of their husbands.

Ms Pearce hopes the christening gown will handed down to be used by future generations.

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- North Shore Times

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