'Hug of love': P.E.I. woman transforms wedding gowns into 'angel dresses' for grieving parents

An P.E.I. woman is taking her passion for sewing and using it to help women who have lost babies or young children by transforming wedding dresses into small dresses.

'Take that child now and wrap it in a dress that is created from love'

Mindy Ashwood of Tyne Valley, P.E.I., started making the dresses after her daughter had a miscarriage. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

A P.E.I. woman is taking her passion for sewing and using it to help women who have lost babies or young children by transforming wedding dresses into small dresses. 

Mindy Ashwood started the project, PEI Angel Dresses, after her own daughter had a miscarriage this past summer.

She plans to give the dresses to women who have lost a child, something that can be difficult or even taboo to talk about.

Mindy Ashwood spends hours making each small dress. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"I recreate them into little dresses for babies that are born but do not make it home from the hospital," said Ashwood, who lives and makes the dresses in Tyne Valley, P.E.I. 

'It's a way of taking your child … your loved one, it's your little angel and wrapping it in some love.'  — Mindy Ashwood, PEI Angel Dresses

"I really really feel for them. And I know my daughter and I, and it makes me teary-eyed … First she was so excited, she'd say mom look I sent you a picture and it's the pregnancy test and then a few weeks later, it's like well mom, I lost the baby," she said. "So we still cry."

Donations from across country

All of the wedding dresses have been donated. So far she's received about 20 from across the country. Each gown inspires the dress Ashwood crafts from it, and she spends hours on each one. 

Mindy Ashwood hopes her gesture can help ease the pain for parents who have lost babies or young children. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"It gives you a lot of time to reflect because you're sitting there. You're sewing. You're pinning. You're cutting and you've got these absolutely gorgeous gowns and then you have to sit and think, OK what is the purpose of this dress that I'm creating."

Ashwood said the reaction to the project is worth it.

"The response is amazing. That shows that there are people out there that care for you too. They really do care for you."

Wrapped in love

And there's a reason she chose wedding dresses. 

Ashwood is surprised at how many dresses she has received as donations so far. She can make about 15 small dresses from one gown. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"They also symbolize love. And that is the biggest thing," she said.

"Take that child now and wrap it in a dress that is created from love … it's a way of taking your child, you know, because it's your loved one, it's your little angel and wrapping it in some love."

So far Ashwood has made dresses for a few women she knows.

She plans to give some to hospitals including, the hospitals her children and grandson were born in.

The dresses will be placed in special boxes with a card with a message.

She's still working on how to connect with people who want one and said if anyone does want one, that they contact her through Facebook or email.

The dresses are donated, but Ashwood buys all of the other supplies to make the 'angel dresses.' (Krystalle Ramlakhan)

"These girls that have gone through the miscarriages or still births or even ones that have a preemie in the hospital that doesn't make it home … They need a hug." said Ashwood. 

Accepting more dresses in spring

Each dress will be donated with one of these note cards. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

"They can take one of my little dresses and they can wrap it around their little boy or their little girl that they didn't get to take home with them and know that it's a hug of love."

Ashwood is busy transforming the dresses she already has. She plans to start accepting more dresses in the spring.

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.