WWII Vet's Wife Made Wedding Dress from Parachute That Saved His Life During War

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Planning a wedding is simultaneously exciting and anxiety-inducing. There are so, so many details to iron out, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of the planning (at least for the bride) is finding the perfect dress.

Many brides-to-be have specific ideas of what they want their dress to look like and have decided upon the details from a very young age. The biggest source of tension, though, comes from finding *the* perfect dress only to be leveled by sticker shock.

According to The Knot, the average amount spent on a wedding dress in 2017 was $1500, with accessories coming in at around $270. That’s a lot of money for a single dress that you will only wear once for a few hours.

The wedding industry definitely knows what it’s up to, and plays heavily on emotions during the dress selection, creating a party out of what would otherwise be fairly routine tryouts. For many brides, having family and friends attend and getting all teary-eyed is exactly what they want — and that’s fine.

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Others, though, want a dress that is unique and less expensive than the standard fare available in bridal shops. Those with a creative streak will often try their own hand at designing and putting together their special gown, and the results are often (but, alas, not always) stunning.

Take this adept crafter who goes by the Reddit handle “Alkikatt.” She decided to crochet her own dress with sale-priced crochet thread during her commute, illustrating her sensibility twice over.

It took her a good deal of planning, as the dress required 5 months of work, but the finished product was striking, original, versatile and only cost $30 to make.

There are also those individuals handy with sewing machines who can turn something horribly out-of-style to something modern and elegant. YouTube is full of brave crafting souls who take to Goodwill and record their progress as they turn bargain finds into show-stopping dresses.

Then there are those who decide to just make the thing from scratch, using unusual materials to bring their vision to life. Sometimes the end results are a little too creative to be universally appealing, but the craftsmanship is apparent even when the good taste is not.

One woman named Ruth was tasked with a challenge when her husband-to-be gave her the material he wanted her dress to be made out of: his old parachute.

There’s more to the story than that, as the parachute was a very important part of the man’s life. Major Claude Hensinger jumped out of a B-29 during WWII while flying back from a bombing run in 1944.

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The parachute got him safely to the ground in China, and according to We Are The Mighty, it also kept him warm and staunched the bleeding from an injury he’d sustained. He continued to hold on to the dirty parachute and even presented it to Ruth during his proposal.

“This is the parachute that saved my life,” he told her, according to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. “I want you to make a wedding gown out of it.”

It’s unclear exactly what Ruth’s initial reaction was, but the soon-to-be-wife accepted the challenge, working with a seamstress to put together a dress that was based on Scarlett O’Hara’s from “Gone With the Wind.”

Apparently Hensinger liked what he saw when Ruth walked down the aisle in her bespoke creation, and others did, too, as the dress was used by several other brides in the years that followed.

Now retired, the beautiful dress is an installation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where it will be admired for years to come. It’s pretty amazing to imagine that such a striking dress could have had such an unexpected past.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking