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Baptismal Gown

lindamaries | Posted in General Discussion on

I think I am going to be invited to my niece’s baby shower. She had her ultrasound and they said it was a girl.
I was thinking of sewing a baptismal gown for the baby shower gift.
So, my questions are:
How sure can I be that it will be a girl?
What size should I sew for that would be the most likely size of the baby during the baptism?
Anyone got any web sources for patterns of gowns?


  1. VictoriaMars | | #1

    The baptismal gown that I have is cream colored and has been used by both sexes for several generations. You can get some lovely patterns and this is a chance for you to practise doing french handsewing, smocking, and embroidery!

    Here is a place with lots of patterns, my favs are the ones from Australian Smocking especially from issue #29!


    I think about 6 month size is about right. Your niece is a very lucky girl to  be getting such a beautiful gift.


  2. Tish | | #2

    I can only answer the first parts of that question.  You can't be sure of the baby's sex based on Sonogram.  These days, you can be pretty darn confident, but surprises do still emerge.  For a Christening gown, the baby's sex shouldn't matter.  Traditionally, all babies wore dresses until they were out of diapers, and Christening gowns are a pretty traditional garment.  There are little miniature dress suits for baby boys, but the gowns still seem to be the favored arment for both boys and girls.

    As to the size, again, you don't have to be too specific.  Traditional Christening gowns hang down a long way, and as long as they fit at the neck and wrists, they fit.  I've seen antique gowns that had tie closes to assure that they would fit on a variety of baby sizes.  I think the most important thing is to know whether your niece is going to Christen the child, and at what age.

    Whatever you choose to do, baby clothes are tons of fun to make.  If my daughter hadn't grown up, I might still be sewing. (I like her the way she is anyway.)

    1. Theodora | | #3

      "I think the most important thing is to know whether your niece is going to Christen the child, and at what age."

      Excellent redirect, Tish! Sometimes we sewists do need to be reminded of "first questions."

      Bishop style Christening gowns are excellent for when you aren't sure of the size of the tyke. And yes, only really recalcitrant fathers will object to putting a "dress" on a little boy for a Christening, and can usually be persuaded. And offered a slightly more tailored style. On the other hand, you can sell the "family heirloom" aspect of the project as something that more than one baby in the family might wear, so you don't want an all girl or all boy style.

      And yes, they are so much fun to sew for, Lindamaries! Get started as soon as you safely know it is a girl. (I would do a diaper check, maybe!) My niece, my only current little girl to sew for, enters first grade this year, and I can forsee the dreaded day . . . or never mind, I am sewing like mad for her now. Someone else in the family need to reproduce soon.

      Have fun planning your project!

      1. CATE52 | | #4

        Absolutely agree that christening gowns should be unisex and should be a 'gown'.

        I did, however, made a 'romper suit' type outfit for my niece's firstborn.  She is now on her third son and he will wear the suit in a couple of weeks.   I don't think that this will be her last child though and if the next is a girl then it will mean another outfit being made.  It's okay to put a boy, at the age of 6 months in a gown, but not okay to put a little girl in a romper suit.  If this should happen then we can save the bodice and sleeves and attach a skirt instead of the trousers.  If the outfit is likely to be handed down for generations though, it is best to go with the gown in the first place.

        In all my years of sewing, making a christening gown is the most exciting thing I have ever done.  It gives enormous satisfaction to know that that gown will probably be around after you have gone.  I did not make christening gowns for my children but I hope I will be able to make them for my grandchildren.

        Enjoy your project!!


      2. Tish | | #5

        Theodora, I'm so glad that you joined in this discussion.  I know that you've got a lot of experience making special clothes for babies and children.

        One thing that matters a lot, I think, is to be very sure of the highest quality fabric and materials.  If the gown is to become an heirloom, make it of stuff that will still show off when the current baby's grandchildren wear it.  I've got a few little things put away for my daughter to put on her girls that I would proudly display inside or out.  Not everything we make for the kids needs ribbon-finished seams or embroidered  fancies on the buttonholes, but a Christening gown merits lots of extras. 

        Personally I would avoid any metal that might discolor the fabric.  When my daughter was born, my mother unpacked the box of all the extra-special baby clothes she'd been saving, and was dismayed to find stains around the cloth-covered metal buttons.  She hadn't realized that they were metal.

  3. lindamaries | | #6

    Thanks to all who replied on the shower gift. I'm pretty sure my niece will do the baptism in the first couple of months after birth. That is what our religion usually does. But if it was like my sister's religion, her son was almost 10 years old before he was baptized. You're right, a sewer has to know when and if the baptism will be. Good place to start...definitely.

    I'll also check the web site out. Looks interesting. Thanks!

    1. sanderson | | #7

      I heard that in some traditions the christening gown is to be made from the bride's wedding slip.  I've also seen baptismal gowns made from actual wedding dresses.  If you go either of these routes you will at least get a clue from the mom as to the plans for the baby's religious future.

      1. lindamaries | | #8

        I've heard that, too, about making the baptismal gown out of the wedding gown slip. I think that is a lovely tradition. I had thought of that for my two babies, but I started another thing instead.

        I had a baptismal gown for each one of my girls. It was a big expense when we didn't have much money. I preserved them, just like a wedding dress, at the dry cleaners. That way when they each have their children and also don't have much money, they can use their gowns that they had when they were babies. I did the same with their first communion dresses. My wedding dress, though, I am going to keep that forever because I love it so. After I die, and I must part with it, then they can have it. I'm just a little sentimentally selfish, I guess.

  4. NansiM | | #9

    You can also use the actual wedding gown.  i seem to be doing more of these lately and I love it.  One gal asked me to do two from hers; one for her best friend's first child-she's the godmother-and one to set aside for when she has her first child.  She felt that by doing them both now, she wouldn't have to stress about it when she'd rather focus on baby and my thought was; I could be sure I had enough fabric and decoration for both since I did them at the same time.  Then, I used the slip for the babies' slips.  Whatever you decide, I know you'll love working on it.  I always get excited when I'm asked to do one of these projects!

  5. SewingSue | | #10

    Lindamaries,  I work in a radiology department.  How accurate the ultrasound is at determining the sex of the baby depends on a few variables.  Like the experience of the technician doing the ultrasound, the position of the baby can also make a difference.  Usually the results are quite reliable but surprises happen. 

    Sounds like you got a lot of good suggestions.  Best wishes.


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