Elaine was raised by her maternal grandparents behind Andy’s Shoe Repair on Fulteron Ave in Chicago. She lived In a small apartment behind the family business. Elaine has fond memories of her grandparents Andrew and Daisy Chresaidos. Elaine explained that making a pattern and sewing shoes is very similar to sewing clothing from a pattern.
Elaine said, “I come from hardy stock,” when you hold onto God and don’t quit you will prosper. Elaine strives to be a Proverbs 31 woman. “She (Proverbs 31 woman) sewed, was a business woman but also kept her household clothed in fine garments and in order.”
Elaine was a bright child. She skipped the fourth grade. So bright that she taught herself to sew at a young age. By age eight she remembers picking up a needle. When Elaine was 11, her mother purchased a sewing machine that came with six free lessons. After two lessons her mother was frustrated with sewing and insisted Elaine take the remaining four lessons.
“I am completely self taught,” she said. “I see a pile of fabric and see the garment,” she finished.
In 1991, Elaine decided to open her first shop in Greybull, Wyoming. Her seamstress ability opened the avenue for her present day period clothing business Bridge Over Time & Wyoming Classics. One of the first outfits, the most significant, that gave her the direction to this niche market was actually a wedding gown. The bride was marrying a Buffalo Bill actor and wanted a historical dress designed to fit the occasion. The wedding took place in Cody, Wyoming with 3,000 guests in attendance.
Nearly 20 years later, Elaine Bridge would wear a Civil War Era jacket and skirt of burgundy moiré trimmed with black venice lace and braided gimp as her own wedding dress. Her husband, Loren wore a pinstriped frock coat and trousers with a white standup collar shirt, vest and burgundy cravat tie along with black stove pipe boots. The couple met over the July 4th weekend in Cody, Wyoming.
Today whether her clients desire country and western costumes, an entire wardrobe or just one specialty item Elaine can design it. Her clientele are from all walks of life and includes actors and actresses from Hollywood to the New York Metropolitan Opera stage. Her period clothing is also worn by Cowboy Action Shooters, Re-Enactment Actors, western culture enthusiasts and everyone in-between that desires country and western costumes.
One client paid her an extra $10 to shoot his custom made shirt. This guy was a Cowboy Action Shooter and his character had been wounded. She remembers making the shirt, putting the garment over a stump and shooting a hole in it. Occasionally she’ll have a client that requests her to make their period clothing on her vintage sewing machine while dressed in period clothing. Figuring out a pattern for material is Elaine’s gift.
Her pioneer spirit comes alive when she makes the Turn of the Century clothing. “I love history,” she added. Her love of history can be found across the world on garments worn by people from all walks of life. ” I still want to be that Proverbs 31 woman who sews and has a business and takes care of the needs of her family as I always wanted to be…. that is really the overall motivation I have and the single solid thread that runs through my whole life,” Elaine continues.
CLN Community & Event Sponsor