Frequently Asked Questions

Make a Donation to RiHA

Donate a Wedding Dress

Would you like to help make angel gowns?

The angel gowns are not terribly hard to make, although much love goes into each one.

And yes, we do need help from people who do not sew. One of the most time consuming jobs is deconstructing the wedding dresses, ironing/steaming them, and then laying out the patterns for the angel gowns. The patterns are traced onto the wedding dress and then need to be cut out. We welcome teenagers who need service hours for Confirmation to help with this as well as anyone who wants to help but does not sew. We host monthly Sewing Saturday workshops in the Chicagoland area and invite all volunteers to come and see the process. We provide the wedding dress material, patterns, trims and supplies, as well as examples, guidance and encouragement . . . and lunch!

To find out more about how you can help or when the Sewing Saturday events are scheduled, please see our Facebook group page or contact us.

Step 1: Take Your Dress Out of Storage

If your dress was not preserved, please clean it before donating. Most gowns can be washed on the gentle cycle at home and then hung up to dry. If it was preserved and boxed, no need to clean it – just remove it from the large storage box as we cannot accept those boxes – and hang it up to air out.

Step 2: Look at Your Dress Closely

Check for the type of material – If the dress is made of a stretchy or jersey material or a lighter-weight / see through polyester material, we most likely will not be able to use it. Many dresses from the 1970’s are not useable because once the lace overlay is lifted up, the satin sheath is see-through and does not give enough quality material for making angel gowns.
Check if its clean – If your dress is discolored/stained and did not come clean in the wash, we may not be able to use it. If it has dry rot, mold, or mildew, we definitely cannot use that for the precious babies who will wear the angel gowns.
Check for odors – If your dress retains a strong odor such as smoke, mothballs, pets, or perfume, we will not be able to use it.
In some cases, we may be able to salvage the lace and embellishments even if we cannot use the material. However, if we are unable to use a dress, we reserve the right to re-donate it or dispose of it.

Step 3: Understand that we cannot return a dress or any part of it to you once we have received it.

We are unable to make hankies or keepsakes for you and we do not return angel gowns to dress donors. So, if you wish to keep a portion of your wedding dress for keepsakes, please do. Just cut off the portion you’d like to keep, and we will work with the remaining fabric.
Unsure if a future bride might like part of your dress? Then we suggest keeping a piece that is somewhere between 12-30″ long by 3″ wide so a future bride could incorporate it as a belt or wrap it around her bouquet.

Step 4: Remove the netting/crinoline from the underside of the dress and discard it

Step 5: Please let the dress hang up for at least 3 days to air out.

Step 6: Option for those who are tech savvy

While your dress is hanging up to air out, would you please take a picture of the full front of the gown, one up close of the bodice, and one of the full back? (Might require 2 pics to get the entire train photographed). Then post them in a separate thread on our page. The post will be delayed until we receive your dress and it will make the process of checking it in so much easier on our volunteers.

Step 7: Donation Form & Receipt

Complete the bottom half of this receipt and donation form and attach it with a safety pin to your dress.

Click Here for the Form & Receipt

Step 8: Packing & Shipping

If your dress meets our criteria and you are ready to donate it, please remove all tissue paper, hangers or other packaging and attach the 1/2 page donation form (from Step 7 above)
If mailing, fold/roll your dress up to fit into as small of a box as possible. It is ok to send via ground mail or UPS or FedEx.
If dropping off, please put your dress into a plastic bag. There is a large drop box outside our front door so you can drop off when it is convenient for you. This is a residential address – a yellow ranch house.
The address is:
Rest in His Arms Angel Gowns
1016 Woodland Drive
Wheeling, IL 60090

Get in contact with RiHA

Help us provide love, support, dignity and respect to children who have left this world way too soon.