Treasure Chest Thursday: The wedding dresses of Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards, 1949-1958

My husband’s grandmother Ida Edith (Payne) Edwards was a talented dressmaker.  From the ages of 14 to 16, she served a two year apprenticeship with a dressmaker in the west end of London.  She spent the majority of her working career as a ladies tailor or dressmaker throughout London. While working as a tailoress, she met her husband William James Stephen Edwards, a fellow tailor, and they married in 1913. In the 1930s she worked for a small couture dressmaker. During World War II, she worked as dressmaker for Debenham’s department store, remaining in London during the Blitz. She was very skilled, and would often make dresses for dowagers which cost thousands of pounds. Years later she shared that Queen Alexandra and later Queen Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon preferred to have “Mrs. Edwards” as their fitter. At Debenhem’s, she quickly learned to write down the women’s statements and measurements exactly, especially if they quarreled over the measurements which Ida had taken (the women claiming they were smaller than their physical measurements had indicated!), so that later Ida could not be in trouble if the women later complained that the dress was too small, since she prided herself on her accuracy. Ida left Debenham’s after World War II and joined St. Francis Hospital in their linen room as a needlewoman where she worked until her retirement in the 1960s. During her time at the hospital, however, she missed dressmaking and therefore after hours would often work for commission or for free to create wedding dresses or other dresses for friends, neighbors, and others. Appreciative brides often sent Mrs. Edwards’ photographs from their wedding of “the dress”, which I have included below:

The dress she made for her niece Doris Fielder’s 1949 wedding:


The dress she made for her daughter-in-law Rene Royce’s 1955 wedding:

The dress she made for her neighbor Rosina Newton’s 1956 wedding:


The dress she made for Edna Dines’ 1957 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s 1953 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s 1958 wedding:


A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:


A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:


A dress for an unknown bride’s wedding during the 1950s:


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