In the arms of an angel

From the happiest day of a couple’s lives to the saddest, Angel Gowns are transforming one special gown into another.

Brides across Australia have embraced Angel Gowns and donated more than 5000 wedding dresses to the non-profit organisation, who organises to transform them into gowns for babies who have died from illness or after being born prematurely to be buried in.

Two West Wyalong women, Bernadette Pettit and Sara Brawn, are the Riverina’s Angel Gown seamstresses.

Their personal experience with the loss of a grandchild or child, respectively, have prompted them to assist families experiencing the same tragedy.

Mrs Pettit’s granddaughter was stillborn eight years ago.

She noticed an advertisement by Mrs Brawn looking for seamstresses and the two started a correspondence.

“You are a bit hesitant when you make that first cut but when you finish an Angel Gown, you realise how beautiful it is,” she said.

“It is sad though, because these are gowns they should be taking them home in not burying them in.”

All gowns must be made to a pattern provided by Angel Gowns and seamstresses must submit three finished works before they are put on the roster.

Mrs Pettit said making the gowns provided a form of therapy after her own family’s experiences but said it creates a talking point in the community about infant deaths.

The service, according to Mrs Pettit, takes some stress away from parents after the death of a child.

“It’s takes that pressure off them and gives them more time with that little baby rather than choosing something for them to wear,” she said.

“It’s a very dignified way to dress the baby.”

Mrs Pettit has made about 30 gowns since September last year and said about six to 12 gowns can be made from one wedding dress.

The company also makes tutus from leftover tulle for sick children.

For more information on Angel Gown services, visit http://www.angelgownprogram.org.au/.