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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oh! so old!

I have been so busy lately, I haven't had time for much blogging.

BUT I promised myself that I would show you this before it was too late.

My grandson is being Christened on Saturday and I have been not tatting.. I tatted the bootees before he was born, you can go and have a look at them here. he may wear them if they fit him or they may become part of my Christening heirloom.
Oh heck lets show them here too, you can see lots more photos and helpful hints on making them back in my blog posts on babies.

I also made her a Wedding hankie and the instructions as to how to make it into a bonnet but i don't think she was too keen to risk damaging her hankie.

Mt father was born in 1906 and I have the gown in which he was Christened. Pretty cool you say! yes VERY COOL.....It has been suggested that I make an underskirt and embroider on it the names and dates of all who have been Christened in it.
Isn't that a wonderful idea.....just need the time and some really nice fine cotton material...and the inclination to do it. My best mate said that she would do the embroidery on her machine.

Trying to work out actually who had been Christened in it...well my dad was the eldest of three boys so I guess that's 3 for that generation, could be more and I will never know now.

I was the last of my generation to be Christened in it preceeded by my three brothers, the first two of whom died as babies...I will never know how my parents got over that loss..things which would have been easy to cure today. Well I wouldn't have been here if they had lived.

My two children were both Christened in it, the last being some 33 years ago and now it goes into a 4th generation.

I asked the ones who know these things at my lace guild if they thought that it had been new in 1906....and they thought yes. Some of the lace is machine made but the embroidery is made by hand.

You want to see some photos???? of course you do.

This shows the detail of the bodice...all hand embroidered. the fine cotton is beginning to pull away from the I decided that I would line the top to reinforce it and help tp take some pressure off the material. I found a fine handerkerchief belonging appropriately to my dad and used that.

The stitching was so neat on the inside that I photographed it before I covered it up.

At some time in the past the bodice has been shortened (you can see on the photo above) but I will keep it that way.

The skirt is done with panels of lace set between panels of pintucking, ending with tow deep frills of lace.

I liked the patchwork quilt as a background but maybe this will give you more idea of size if I lay it out on the bed.

But even better still is to show you some photos of it in action.

First my daughter in 1972....

them my son in 1975 it's last outing.

Isn't that just stunning.

After the repairs I soaked it in Steradent....used for whitening false teeth, as the lace guild say that is the best way to whiten old lace with out harsh detergents. Ironed gently and wrapped in acid free tissue paper will it get an outing on Saturday or not.

Is it bad to risk damaging an anique or should it continue to do what it was designed to do. Will it fit him, and how/where would we dress him as it has never had to face the thought of being strapped into a baby car impossible feat I think.


  1. That christening gown is absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for sharing such a precious garment. The booties are so sweet and delicate! They will look adorable on the little one's feet!

    ((hugs)) to you! :)

  2. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing all the wonderful pictures. We didn't have any family heirlooms to pass down to my children. My mom crocheted a Christening gown for daughter Andrea in 1978. Unfortunately, the acrylic yarn did not hold up well at all.

    I sewed Christening gowns for Eva (2002) and Lily (2004). Both were completed last minute. Mom and I worked on Eva's until 2:15 a.m., then got up to finish it at 6 a.m. the day of the Christening!

    I called Andrea on Friday to ask if she'd like a gown for Lily. I started it at 6 p.m., put the skirt on the wrong way three times, and finished it at 9 a.m. Dave and I left for Minnesota at 9:30!

    I guess I'd better write those stories down before they're forgotten!

  3. What a stunning heirloom! Such a long skirt too...I've seen some with long skirts, but not that long. However did you keep from tripping while walking with them?

    My 2 oldest were christened in something new at the time. My daughter has her dress and my son has his outfit. I don't think either used them for their own children.

    For a long time, I've wanted to make christening gowns. Will do so one day.

  4. Just a thought - but because it's an heirloom, and should definitely be worn on Sunday, could you drive the baby to the church in his normal warm clothes, and then dress him in the sacristy when you get there? I don't see why that couldn't be done, and it would be so sad to miss the opportunity for a 4th generation picture.

  5. The bootees are really cute.

    And thank you for sharing a bit of your family history re the christening gown. It is a great idea to add the names of you family members who have used it before.

  6. Thanks Chic, it looks even better in real life. Wonderful quality stiff fabric,not harsh tho, I had thought that maybe it had been starched but it dried stiff not floppy.

    Diane, You are making heirlooms of the future, I admire you for going to so much trouble.

    Gina it wasn't long enough for me to trip. I haven't actually seen many Christening gowns to know how long they normally are...except that short ones are very short and more like dresses...whereas this is a gown and not at all like a dress!!

    Maureen those were my thoughts too but at the end of the day its not my decision. It's only a small college chapel and i don't know what facilities it has.

    Jon..adding the names is a wonderful idea...sometime...when I get round to it!!. I must certainly write it down and include photos in an archive.

  7. Oh so wonderful. Even more beautiful than I had imagined. Could you just arrive a little early and change him into the gown somewhere in the back of the church?

  8. Lovely, what a treasure! The booties are perfect! Thanks for sharing...loved the photos. (God bless your precious grandson, especially on his Christening Day.)

    It was really interesting to me to see a beautifully made,100 yr. old gown as I made a silk christening gown, hat and slip for a niece's baby three years ago...such fun. It was trimmed with english needlelace and pintucking. With silk floss,I hand-embroidered floral motives between the pintucks using 1940's floral patterns my mother-in-law gave me. All the ribbons used were silk...soooooo soft!

    36-38" is now considered the 'standard' length of such garments.

    Storage advice from my heirloom sewing dealer:
    Always wash garment before storing.
    Do NOT iron before storing as ironing will cause fabric to yellow over time.
    If item is not used for many years, gently launder it every four years.
    Air and refold it occasionally between launderings.
    Store in muslin if kept in a drawer, or in acid-free paper in an acid-free.

  9. Pamela,
    What a beautiful heirloom. As a 53 year old who still has her store bought christening gown yellowed and tattered, I can tell you that this will mean so much to future generations of your family. The fact that it is made with natural fabrics will insure it's withstanding many more years.
    If you make a simple journal with the date of birth,death,name and photo where possible of the wearers that came before this generation I guarantee you that the gown and the Journal will be cherished. If you would like to see some gowns of heirloom quality and length similar to yours google Sew Beautiful Magazine. Just don't drool on your keyboard. P.S. Finian says HI.


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