Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Christening Gown & Slip

lindamaries | Posted in Photo Gallery on

This gown was made with conventional sewing methods even though the pattern designed by Sara Howard Stone was for heirloom sewing.


  1. Jean | | #1

    Very pretty!! I love the sleeves. Looks like a fun one to sew!

    1. lindamaries | | #2

      Thank you very much. It was fun, but difficult. This is for my grand niece. This baby, you is coming this Christmas yet, is the first of that generation so I'm going to have lots of gowns to make in the next few years.

  2. rjf | | #3

    Really beautiful!  What is the fabric?  It looks a little shiny.  "Heirloom sewing"??  More handwork than not?  I've always taken that expression for granted but it sounds as if you mean it more specifically.        rjf

    1. lindamaries | | #4

      The fabric is a poly/cotton Batiste that I purchased over the internet from Handmades.com.  I got the pattern from there, too.  The pattern called for entredeux to be placed at all the "joints" to act like attachment hinges.  Therefore, the seam allowances were very tiny.  I really didn't know the true size of the gown because I really couldn't figure out where the stitching lines were suppose to be.  I just made 1/4" seams throughout and hoped for the best. 

      I think that Heirloom sewing is done mostly by hand stitching.  And I think that heirloom sewing is loaded with this entredeux stuff.  I didn't even know what entredeus WAS until a fellow PACCer showed me the lace at the Vogue store in Chicago.

      I really think I should look into this heirloom sewing.  It IS a different kind of sewing than what one does with a machine.

      I sewed this gown with the machine and only hand stitched on the backsides a little because my stitching in the ditch is not always the straightest and equal distance from the edge.  

      I really like making Christening gowns.  They are so-o-o cute and lovely.  I really have to figure out though what size a 0-3 months block would have to be. Maybe I can design my own patterns for conventional sewing.  Maybe there is a need for this kind of pattern...because I think that most Christening gowns are done heirloom. 

      Edited 10/18/2002 7:27:19 AM ET by lindamaries

      1. rjf | | #5

        Now that you're writing about it, I almost remember something about entredeux.  I think I remember that two pieces are hemmed where they would normally be seamed and then the entredeux worked inbetween....maybe like a herringbone stitch.  Do you think that sounds right?  But my gosh, the kid would be 16 before the gown got finished.        rjf

        1. carolfresia | | #6

          I'm not an expert on heirloom sewing, but I think rjf is talking about fagoting rather than entredeux insertion. Is that correct?  I love the look of both, though. And agree that it would probably take me 16 years to complete a project like that!

          Lindamaries, have you looked at Carol Ahles's book Fine Machine Sewing? A lot of her techniques are intended to show you how to mimic the look of fine handsewing with your machine, and she has some good information on handling delicate fabrics (which can be tricky to stitch with real precision). I've even seem some nifty examples of heirloom-looking garments made almost entirely on the serger! So if you like the look (Ralph Lauren has been showing a lot of this kind of thing recently) but don't want to spend the time, there are ways to speed up the process.


          1. Jean | | #7

            There are lots of good books out, many written by Martha Pullen.  You could go haunt your local library and see what you can find.  Here's a list.. http://www.ggcreations.com.au/althea/books/sheir.html

          2. Jean | | #8

            I'm thinking specifically of the French Hand Sewing by Machine books. Here I am talking to myself again.

          3. rjf | | #9

            You're right!  Fagoting is exactly what I had in mind,  but the word was in some other part of my brain.  Or......I though fagoting was a subset of entredeux.       rjf

          4. lindamaries | | #10

            I don't know what is what with that heirloom stuff.  All I know is that I got into something that was totally different than I've ever experienced before.  To make the gown, I just had to wing it and hope for the best.  I think it turned out pretty good except that I am still not sure of the size 0-3 months.  I really couldn't get that info off the pattern because I didn't know where the stitching line was suppose to be.  I assumed that the stitching line was really close to the cut edge.  I figured the 1/4" seam would still be okay. 

            I'm still waiting for the baby to arrive into the world so I won't know how the fit will be.  I do know the baptism is scheduled for Super Bowl Football Sunday and in our house that means there will be an EXTREME conflict.  Good thing the bowl isn't until the evening. 

            Thanks for the book info.  I'll be checking that out definitely, for sure. 

          5. rjf | | #11

            That really is a conflict!  Move your TV to the basement??

            With a tiny baby, I don't see how you can really plan to get exactly the right size.  After all the work you've put into it,  I think the baby should be in a bunting and the dress on hanger for everyone to admire.  Well.....maybe put it on for pictures.  If I had made it, I know how proud I'd feel.  That baby is lucky to have you.      rjf

          6. lindamaries | | #12

            That is so-o-o funny. That is just what the grand-mother-to-be said. 

            As far as the TV/football thing...it is the minister that we have to really worry about?  Will he be able to concentrate?  We don't want him to give the baby and all over bath, now.  Especially in the dead of January winter.

            Hopefully I won't go crazy now with making these things.  Threads discuss board would ban me from the photo area. 

            Rif, are you able to post pictures?  What are you currently working on?

          7. rjf | | #13

            The division of labor is such that the husband takes the pictures so I probably won't get to post much but my daughter could.....if she's reading this.  I don't do much sewing these days but I weave and knit.  My weavers' group is working on a friendship sampler.  We're doing fancy overshot patterns with two different treadlings on one threading.  It should be very impressive when done...in about a year!  That's a long time to tie up a loom, I think.  We'll use a white background and each chooses her own pattern color.  Then we pass around the pattern color and weave two for each other person.  And two for ourselves.  I'm going to do 3 for myself so it ........ whoops....... only two for myself so it will be 16 squares when done.  I've invented a pattern based on my grandchildren's names.  Associate the letters with a number 1-4 and draw the pattern.  That's almost more interesting than the weaving.  And I certainly will take a picture of that!  Weaving is great source of pleasure but it's a very different kind of thinking from sewing.  How the colors interact always surprises me.       

            I think we had one store-bought christening dress for all 3 daughters.  A hand-me-down from a sister-in-law that I couldn't refuse, you know how that goes?  Oh well.  I got to make lots of school dresses and prom gowns and halloween costumes and a couple of wedding dresses.  Best dressed kids in school!        rjf 

          8. lindamaries | | #16

            Tell me about the Halloween costumes!!!  I've done a very many few in my day.  It was always a neat thing to sew.  The kids always loved all the attention that they got when the costumes were being made.  Then the kids got too old for mom made outfits.  They started gathering up their own old clothes and creating something for themselves.  My daughter who is now a freshman college has finally decided not to go this year!!!!  I couldn't believe it last year (her senior year) when she and a group of silly girls took off around the neighborhood with pillow cases and did the door to door begging.  My other daughter is now a freshmand in high school and has announced that she will not be going this year.  She wants to attend a dance instead.  I told her I thought that was a good idea.  Those kids hate to give it up. 

          9. rjf | | #19

            I remember two in particular.  One was called "Little girl with pockets".  A bathroby sort of thing with a zillion pockets sewn on (I was in a hurry that year).  It wasn't a favorite but when I asked this particular daughter want she wanted to be, she said "A herd of elephants" and I could never quite come up with something that would suit.  I still think about it when I wake up in the middle of night.  Who knows.....maybe I'll come up with something yet.  It's never too late, is it?  The other one was the Great Pumpkin.  Stuffed with crumpled-up newspaper and a cute hat.  It looked great but was difficult to negotiate and I heard later that it got caught in a rose bush.  And there were a few skating costumes.  Usually gauzy things that would float when the oldest daughter went fast.  And the very first "mod" bell bottoms with a long vest, printed velour, I think, for the one who was going to moderate a fashion show.  But they did as your daughters and started inventing their own things pretty quickly. They do fantastic things for their own children.  Great dinosaurs and tigers and Peter Pans and George Washington.  Gee!  Thanks for the excuse to remember all those good things.

          10. rjf | | #14

            There are some pictures of my weaving and knitting attached to message 1680.15 and 1680.19 has a bunch of fair isles sweaters.       rjf

          11. lindamaries | | #15

            How would I locate the 1680's in the photo section?

          12. kai230 | | #17

            Linda, go to Advanced Search and enter the message #. Here's the link:


          13. rjf | | #18

            If you click on "Photo Gallery",  all the topics will be listed and 1680.etc is under "Show us what you've been working on"  or something like that.  My short term memory isn't....like....something or other.  then you just click on the topic.   rjf

          14. lindamaries | | #20

            I saw the towel.  That was really pretty.  The sweater is very very nice also.  Hope those were the right pictures. 

            Do you weavers all work on the same loom?  It kind of sounds like you share it or something. 

            I tell you, if I had a second life, I'd come back as a fabric designer/weavedesigner because I think that it is the fabric that I love most about sewing.  The mixing and matching, the looking at all the neat new textures that are showing up in the stores.

            There is this place called the Wet Seal at a mall near us and they always have trendy clothes in there for teenagers.  The fabrics that they use!!!  This season it is all suade like stuff--- polyester so it can be washed, real  feminine peasant blouses out of loose weave linens, the jean materials all have crease lines bleached into the fabric, metallic threads are woven into a lot of the fabrics for sparkle looks...

            Yep, I'd like the fabrics the best. 

          15. rjf | | #21

            Isn't that why everyone has a stash?  Everyone says the fabric is going to be used for something but we all know it's just because it's so pretty they have to own it.  But if I need a piece for something, I can hardly ever bring myself to use what's in the attic because it's "too good".  I wonder how you get to be a fabric designer.  Maybe clothing designers ask for what they want.  There was a woolen mill called Strong-Hewat in the next town.  The fabrics were gorgeous, some just beautiful classics and some very innovative.  I remember one with reindeer hair....it looked kind of cocoanutty.  And they wore forever.  There's a red coat in the attic that went to kindergarten 3 times and might  go back again after 35 years. 

            But there's a lot more chance to design really wild fabrics with all the new synthetic materials availalable.  I do like the shiny, sparkly ones even if I never wear them.

            Everyone has her own loom, or looms.  I've got two.  It takes a while to get it set up for weaving and then the weaving doesn't take too long, but for this project we need to weave samples to make sure they all come out exactly the same size.  So the set-up time is going to be longer since we only meet once a month.

          16. carolfresia | | #22

            OK, so "Little Girl with Pockets" was not a favorite at the time, but in retrospect, I really like it! And I was just reminded of the Little Red Riding Hood costume, which I loved. I think I'll make that for the little peanut next year (this year it's the old clown suit for the second time in a row), unless she likes the Scarecrow suit (which was really cute but may not appeal to her the way it did to the big brother).

            Oh yeah, we should definitely dig up a picture of that mod velveteen vest and bell-bottoms--what a 70s classic! I'm not sure I'd wear the pants now, but if I could have that vest I'd be pretty happy. But you know what I do have somewhere, if I can squeeze my ribcage into them, is two velvet vests from high school--one black, the other a camel/navy/burgundy paisley.

            And please do save that red coat--if it's in decent shape it could go to kindergarten again in 3 years!

            So, christening gowns or not, remember, everyone, that your sewing projects stand a very good chance of being treasured for years, even if just in fond memories!


  3. solosmocker | | #23

    Heirloom sewing is more technique, whether by hand or machine, used to sew childrens clothing with the finest fabrics possible. I guess you could call it Baby couture. There is much lace insertion, lace to lace seaming, lace to fabric, lots of entredeuax, smocking, silk ribbon embroidery, and many other techniques. Here is a link to an outfit I just finished for a baby boy.


    If you click on the other images you will see the rest of the suit, bonnet, and socks.

    Heirloom sewing was traditionally practiced in the Southern area of the US but now has spread to everywhere. It got the name "heirloom" because the garments were proudly passed to the next generation. The Easter dresses worn by my cousins were put away and worn by their daughters to Easter services a generation later. This is just a brief comment on the subject, but if you have a machine, you can do heirloom sewing as Carol Ahles book so wonderfully suggests.

    Your gown and slip are beautiful.

    1. lindamaries | | #24

      Dear solosmocker...
      Looked at your creation. Fantastic workmanship...workwomanship whatever.
      I also had another baby to sew for last year. I made a little tuxedo for him. It was so-o-o cute. The little guy now has, of course, out grown everything and will be qualified for the NFL in another month
      so I should really sew some more things for him. But this Christmas, I've turned to sewing presents. I'm going to start some hobo bags for my girls and for my great niece I'm going to sew 18" doll cloths. I ordered an 18" posable doll over at Newark Dressmakers for $15.95. They have stockings materials and little shoe already made up. They even had a reasonably priced pattern for dollwear. That'll make a nice present seeing how the dolls in the stores are nothing but trash these days. I couldn't believe the faces and ugly clothes etc. I wouldn't spend the money on any of those.

      1. solosmocker | | #25

        Thank you so much for the compliment. I also thank you for the heads up on Newark Dressmakers. I haven't seen one of those catalogues in a long time and never would have thought they had a doll such as you describe. I am going to their site now to check out the doll. I have scads of 99 crent patterns to cloth such a doll, but haven't invested in the doll itself yet. I think the time has come. My little grandaughter will love it.

      2. ctirish | | #26

        The outfits you did are beautiful.  Did you get all of them presmocked?  Where did you find them?

        If you are doing clothing for a doll this year you may want to check out the American Girl Doll site. That seems to be the one all the girls love, especially the outfits that have matching outfits for the child. I have a niece that wore the matching outfits as much at least twice a week for 2 years.


        1. lindamaries | | #28

          I saw a pattern over at Newark's Dressmakers for the doll and the child. I thought that would be a really neat thing to make for Christmas, but I live too far away from my great niece to measure her. I also haven't seen her for quite some time so I really don't know the size. Yes, those dolls over there look to be a good deal for the price. The face and hair are really nice. They have blond, burnette, or red hair on two types of skin...light or dark. I'll let you know what they really are when mine comes in the mail. I only ordered it a couple of days ago.

          1. ctirish | | #29

            I am curious to hear what the dolls look like. If you want to make one for your grand niece it is possible.  I just made a costume for my granddaughter who lives out of state.  I made a list of every measurement I thought I might need, from her neck size, leg length, knee length, and ankle and wrist measurements.  The only measurement I had to email back for was the one from the top of the neck to her butt.  She is only 4 months old so I had my daughter measure her thighs stretched out and then curled up the way she is normally. There was an inch difference.  It came out well, I wish I had remembered to take a picture before I mailed it.


  4. fabricholic | | #27

    Thanks so much for posting the pictures of your beautiful gown and slip.  I made my granddaughter her christening gown from a commercial pattern.  I can't remember if it was Butterick or McCalls.  I didn't use fancy material, but since it didn't turn out half bad, I wish I had of now.  You know, some embroider the name and date of christening on the slip and use it over and over for the babies in the family, making it truly an heirloom.  You do such beautiful work, though, it would be a shame to make just one.


    p.s.  Martha Pullen has great info. on heirloom sewing and Singer has a book on it also.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All


Shop the Store

View All
View More