From teddy bears to wedding dresses

Student to upcycle dresses for Mom’s Weekend Virtual Fashion Show



WSU senior Nallely Gonzalez-Maravilla used Facebook groups to collect used wedding dresses, which she will revamp for her bridal collection.

SANDI KOBIESA, Multimedia editor

One WSU senior needed an idea for her year-long apparel design project and found her inspiration sparked by the realization that her parents were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this year.

Nallely Gonzalez-Maravilla, apparel, merchandising, design and textiles major, said she has poured hours working on a bridal collection that will debut at the 38th annual Mom’s Weekend Virtual Fashion Show in the spring. 

Her love for wedding dresses began when she was a child, Gonzalez-Maravilla said. 

“I remember being a little girl and sitting with my grandma on the stairs, sewing my teddy bears while she was sewing her own things,” Gonzalez-Maravilla said. “I was always so passionate about it.”

She was born in Michoacán, Mexico, then moved to Chelan, Washington, when she was 9 years old. Her father works at a local golf course, while her mom stays at home to care for her younger brother. 

“They were so encouraging for me to go to school and pursue my dreams,” Gonzales-Maravilla said. 

This semester, she researched her bridal dress designs, found inspirations and finalized ideas for the spring semester, where she will focus on creating the dresses, she said. 

The class, with about 18 students, focuses on the processes behind making clothing. Every person chooses one style they are passionate about, from streetwear to formal wear, Gonzalez-Maravilla said. 

One of her classmates, Charlie Stockbridge, met Gonzalez-Maravilla when they were freshmen taking an intro to sewing class. 

“The most inspiring thing about her is her constant and unconditional positivity,” Stockbridge said. “She’s always smiling, asking questions and complimenting people’s designs.”

Gonzalez-Maravilla is the perfect classmate to have. She always checks in on everyone and lets them know how much she misses being with them, Stockbridge said. 

“It’s amazing because I’ve got to spend the last three years with them,” Gonzalez-Maravilla said. “I got to learn their personalities, and I see it reflect in the clothing they design.”

Stockbridge said the class is like a family, with Gonzalez-Maravilla being the mature big sister who takes care of the rest of the class.

Rather than making her dresses from new material, all the designs will be upcycled. She posted on the WSU Free & For Sale Facebook page in search of used wedding dresses. Four Pullman residents donated their dresses to her. 

“This one lady reached out to me. She donated her dress to my project and said she was really happy her dress won’t be sitting in the closet and wasting away,” Gonzalez-Maravilla said.

She said she plans to redesign those dresses to make them look more modern. A lot of the dresses have traditional styles, but she will add a slight twist to them. 

Gonzalez-Maravilla said she conducted a survey at the beginning of the semester to see what women wanted in their dream wedding dress.

She said 68 women participated in the survey, spanning from Pullman to Chelan. Of the total, 67 percent of them were interested in detachable layers. 

There are, on average, 2.4 million weddings a year in the U.S., Gonzalez-Maravilla said. That’s 2.4 million wedding dresses that can be brought back to life and repurposed. 

“Wedding dresses are expensive, and you only wear them once,” Gonzalez-Maravilla said. “If you add detachable layers, you can go from a ceremony dress to reception dress, to even having pants underneath that you can wear to work whenever.”