Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cross Christening Gown

I hope you are having a Happy Easter!  I've been waiting to share a project I helped a student smock and then I constructed.  Her first grand baby was baptized this weekend, so now I can finally share the pictures!!!!

We first met and scoured through pages of Sew Beautiful to brainstorm and come up with a plan for her christening gown.  Since she wanted to be able to let more than one grandchild wear it and create an heirloom appropriate for either a little boy or little girl, we decided to keep the color neutral as well as any "frills".  Although we both know that lace is appropriate in either gender's christening gown, her menfolk though differently.

The cross and trinity was to be the theme of the gown, so I located some Swiss embroidery with the trinity circles and cross.  Since the only color is came in was white, and we had chosen ivory sateen batiste, I tea-dyed it.  (See this blog post Tea Staining For a Vintage Look)

In order to have the sleeves set with the tea stained insertion, I had to sew in the insertion prior to pleating.  I used a twin needle to make the pin tucks above and below the line of insertion.

In choosing a template, we liked various elements of several templates, so we merged them together to come up with an original smocked gown.  She wanted to have a "cross" theme representing the trinity.  I pleated ivory sateen batiste and together we blocked it into a bishop styled dress.  
After Brenda, my student, completed the smocking, I began the remaining construction.  More pin tucks and insertion made antiqued with the tea stained technique I blogged on earlier. ( Let me state that I did ALL the tea staining at the same time so it would all match)
Next came the ruffle at the bottom of the skirt that was also Swiss edging with the trinity/cross theme that had been tea dyed with all the other insertion.  It was gathered and attached with entredeux that had been thrown in the tea pot (LITERALLY)with all the other insertions.
The dress was finished with a self placket and cast on loops over antique mother of pearl buttons I scooped up at an antique store in Birmingham, AL on an excursion one day with my daughter. 
(Antique Excursion blogpost)
Brenda had the idea to add a monogram with her granddaughter's initials and birthdate on the ruffle.  We ARE Southern, after all!  What Southern girl wouldn't have her monogram on her garment?????

Finally completed and ready for a picture!
It looks even better on it's proud, little owner on this Easter weekend!

Sweet Georgia peach blossoms and sweetness in her christening gown!

Sew It Goes!


  1. Hello, oh my how beautiful this is!! I am thrilled to see you use this little insertion because I need some pointers. I used the very same trinity Swiss insertion on my daughter's First Communion dress. I wasn't sure how to insert it as I was afraid that simply top stitching and trimming excess would result in fraying. I also was working with a ready-made skirt so couldn't finish the meeting seam except for very carefully hand folding things in a puzzle-like way and then using tiny stitched to finish it all. What I ended up doing was folding over a scant 1/8 on either long edge and then top stitching over that, It is a little more puckering and bulky on the edges though than i would like. Yours is divine, could you tell me how you applied it to this dress? Thank you so so much. You can write me at Also, would you ever apply this to a pre-assembled dress. I was afraid that if I did, it might not be perfectly even at the finished side seams once everything came together. Thank you thank you!!

    Sincerely, an aspiring smocking/heirloom artist

    1. Thanks for your comment. When planning the gown, I intended on using entredeaux to attach both sides of the insertion. After using this application on a test strip, I decided the sateen batiste was too heavy for the entredeaux and chose, instead, to use a small zig-zag stitch I have used in heirloom applications with other projects. I suggest "playing" with different stitch widths and lengths being careful not to have it look like a satin stitch but small intricate stitches that catch the edge of the insertion and the fabric with each swing of the needle. I marked the gown with an air soluble marker to ensure the insertion would meet all the way around, and placed an edge of the insertion on this line to stitch. This technique will work for both the preassembled and unassembled dress with the exception being the ends that would need to be turned and stitched as you did rather than being enclosed in the seam.
      So glad you are interested in the art of heirloom sewing and smocking ! Hope I've been helpful.