Monday, March 19, 2012

Guest Post: Heirloom Children's Blessing Gown's

Hello, my name is Cynthia from Dream Quilt Create.  I am thrilled to be a guest on Auntie Lolo's blog.  I have known Lois since she was a little girl.  She is my daughter Lindsay's best friend, and like a "fourth" daughter to me.  She once saved my youngest child from our burning house and took him to a drug dealer's house for safety :)  That is a long, long, exciting story for another time........
I learned how to sew heirloom children's clothing by machine, in 1986.  When I learned I would soon be a grandmother, I thought it would be great to sew each of them an heirloom gown for their blessing.  The idea was that they could pass it down to their first child and so on.  Great care is taken in choosing heirloom materials that will endure the years.

 I bought this book for inspiration, and for a glossary of techniques, including a basic pattern.
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Bridger was our first grandchild, a boy.  That didn't deter me, because there are plenty of patterns available for boys.  I decided on this one.  The sleeves weren't puffy for a boy, it had a cuff at the bottom of the sleeve.  My daughter (Lindsay) chose a champagne colored Swiss Nelona fabric.  I smocked the bodice in an antique brown thread, and the lace trim on the collar and sleeve cuff was a little l/4" crochet trim.  The romper has so many gathers, that it almost looks like a dress!

Terry Jane Patterns & Plates - Royal Babe

Our next grandchild was a girl named Kennedy.  Her mom (Lindsay) chose a white Swiss Nelona, with antique beige colored thread for embroidery, champagne lace, and peach embroidered flowers with sage green flowers.  White silk satin ribbon was chosen for the bonnet and beading on the dress.  Lindsay did some of the embroidery for the dress to help me out, since there was so much on the front and the back.  Little seed pearls were added on the decorative yoke and the bonnet as well.

The french lace is all inset.  The little dotted lace is called entredeux.  That is french for "between two".  Entredeux is always placed between two pieces of lace or fabric.  The entredeux is attached to the lace or fabric by a zig zag stitch.  The needle must go through every hole of the lace, and it takes extreme concentration!

The bottom ruffle of the gown is all pin tucks.  
This is the beading along the bottom of the sleeve.  

This embroidery is all done on the back of the dress.
There is "puffing" inserted between some of the layers of lace.  Puffing is a strip of fabric that is gathered on the top and the bottom and inserted in to the garment that way.  The lace in the above photo, is 3 pieces that are attached together using an heirloom method.

Here is a photo of the embroidered initials that is customary to put on all the gowns.  Kennedy Grace Nielson, the family name initial is always in the middle.
The smocked bonnet with pearl seed adornments.

This is Kennedy in her bonnet and gown.  Unfortunately, I don't have a good photo of her, but you can see all the yards of french heirloom lace.

Next, in the year 2010, we had four grandaughters born within seven months!!

Charlotte was born in April, 2010.  Her mom, Lindsay, chose an off white Swiss cotton with off white french lace.  The method I chose this time, was "shark's teeth".  You sew 1/2" pin tucks, and clip them to the seam line at strategic places to form a design.  You fold back the pleats at the clips and you have nice, pointy shark's teeth. Then you use a narrow zig zag stitch to encase the folded back tucks so they don't unravel when washed.  Each section (between the inset lace) was sewn separately.  I used yards and yards of lace and entredeux.

The lace trim ruffle along the front, edge of sleeve and double ruffles on the hem were antique laces.  I was fortunate to buy some on ebay.

I forgot to mention that I always make a slip with the gown, the fabric is quite sheer.  I sew inset lace or embroidery or pintucks on the yoke.

The finished dress.  These gowns are quite long, about 12" to 18" or longer,  below their feet.
Here is Charlotte in her gown and bonnet.  Her bonnet is tied with antique gold, double sided silk satin ribbon.  I love chubby baby hands!

Maisie was born in July, 2010.  Her mom Rebecca, wanted an off white Swiss cotton with dusty rose embroidery and ribbon.  I sewed two fancy bands.  Fancy bands is a band of rows of french lace, painstakingly joined together.  

I ran dusty rose silk satin ribbon through the beading (three rows), making sure not to tug too tight, not too loose, but just right.  I embroidered the ribbon/flower motif all around the band, front, back and sides!  I really enjoy hand work, I just have to make sure to give myself enough time to complete it. I set deadlines for myself which helps a lot. I can't be rushed doing these gowns, so I leave myself plenty of time. 

I love embroidering the yoke of these gowns.  I always put some little seed pearls in the embroidery.

I made the sleeves to match the skirt, with little verticle pintucks.  It was my own design, each gown has something a little different that the previous one doesn't have.

The slip's yoke is pintucks with a swiss cotton insertion sandwiched with entredeux.

The finished dress with matching slip.

Here is Maisie in her blessing gown, I wonder what she is thinking???

Neo was born in October, 2010.  Her mother Mabulane, wanted an offwhite dress with antique lace and antique gold ribbon.  Mabulane wanted the embroidery to be antique beige.  I don't have any photos of the gown hanging up, so Neo is included in all of the photos!!

Neo's slip had 3 vertical rows of inset lace.

Mabulane was quite specific about how she wanted the lace.  No ruffles, with a panel going down the center front.  She didn't want the dress to be as long as the others, but long enough to cover up Neo's feet.

There is a wide band of antique lace, with an overlay of antique lace, over a long panel of pintucks.  It is a replica of an antique dress in "Grandmother's Hope Chest".

Here are the initials embroidered on the back of the dress by the hem.  Neo Kimberley Horst.

Here is a close up of the antique beige embroidery with seed pearls.

This is the best view of the whole gown.  There is a ruffle of antique less on the hem, attached with a row of entredeux.

Our youngest grandchild Reagan, was born in November, 2010.  Reagan's parents, Jordan and Kimalee, wanted a white dress similar to Charlotte's with shark's teeth, but no lace ruffles along the sides.  Completely white, with white silk satin ribbon and white embroidery. They wanted alternating shark's teeth and puffing.  It took me a couple of tries to get the shark's teeth centered.  It is very mathmatical! Who said  math skills you learned in high school won't ever be used in life?

The lace along the hem isn't ruffled and I love the look, it matches the tailored look of the gown.  The entredeux and netting of the french lace shows up really well in this photo.

The white is so crisp and clean looking.  I love it!  I didn't get a photo of the embroidered initials on the back.

I always sew little 3/8" mother of pearl buttons on the back enclosure.

The yoke on the slip is pure pintucks.

The lace on the hem of the slip is different, it is a row of beading without ribbon and french lace.

The finished dress, almost looks like a wedding dress, doesn't it?

Pure baby, pure innocence.

Reagan likes her dress!!!

When I was making the first heirloom gown and my father in law saw how much time (and money!) was involved, he warned me that what I do for the first grandchild I must do for all the grandchildren.  I couldn't imagine what he meant. Now after one romper and five gowns, I understand.  As each bundle of joy arrives, I do my best to show my love and appreciation for each one.  I am leaving a legacy to each of my grandchildren, hopefully making a mark in their lives :) 
Do you have a favorite gown?
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  1. Cynthia, what lucky grandchildren to have such a talented grandmother! Needlepoint is becoming a lost art. I know that your children all appreciate the legacy that you have left behind for generations to come! I didn't have a favorite as I liked them all! (Cute grandchildren too!)

  2. Maybe the next round will be all boys :) I am so lucky to have such a talented mom, who not only teaches me some of her skill, but makes all of my kids AMAZING gowns! Love them all!!!

  3. All of them are absolutely gorgeous. My favorite is Maisie's dress


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