Stitched and Fitted with Love
April 1998

“Stitched and Fitted with Love,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, 53

Stitched and Fitted with Love

I was living in Alaska as a single mother and teaching at Eielson Air Force Base when my friend Pam Holt introduced me to the Church. Through the single adult program of the Fairbanks District, I met and was soon engaged to a wonderful young man named Chris Olsen. We set our wedding date for 4 March 1975 in the Provo Temple. Together Chris and I picked out a pattern for my wedding gown, and on a trip to Anchorage I found the perfect fabric for my dress. In the ensuing weeks, I lovingly made my wedding gown.

Four days before we were to fly to Utah, I was talking on the phone to Chris while hemming my dress. While I worked, the dress slipped off the ironing board onto the floor. Absentmindedly, I picked it up and flipped it over the ironing board again. The next thing I knew, there was a bright flash of flame that lasted only a moment. My dress!

Quickly I grabbed the dress and held it up, only to find that it had several large, gaping holes with charred edges where the beautiful fabric had once been. It seems that when I had flipped the dress over the ironing board, the full skirt of my gown had landed on candles left burning on a table behind the ironing board. For a half hour I cried on the phone to Chris, who was 30 miles away but who did his best to comfort me.

In the morning, I told my friend Pam about the disaster. All day I tried to comfort myself over the loss of my dress, and I determined to put on a cheerful face at a shower the sisters from the branch planned to give me that evening.

At the shower, we played a game involving pinning a paper pattern on me. I noticed several sisters off in another room, which puzzled me. By the end of the evening, those sisters emerged with the shell of a new wedding dress, ready for a first fitting! I was overwhelmed with emotion. It seems that upon hearing of my disaster, some of the Relief Society sisters had gone to the base exchange and found just one piece of white fabric available there for purchase. They then brought it to the shower, where they began making me a new dress. Several sisters from the branch worked on my dress for two days nearly around the clock to finish it before our flight to Utah. They sewed while other sisters watched their children.

Several people asked one of the husbands, “How can you let your wife do all this?” and he replied, “That’s what Relief Society is all about!”

Those sisters in the Eielson Branch forged bonds of love that will never be forgotten. As a new member, I learned firsthand how shared sisterhood strengthens those in need of a little love and caring. While the temple wedding gown that burned would have been lovely, the gown I wore in the temple was truly beautiful, for it had been cut and stitched and fitted with love.

  • Barbara J. Hill Olsen serves as the public affairs representative in the Highland Third Ward, Highland Utah East Stake.

Illustrated by Robert Anderson McKay