Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rhiannon's Christening Gown and Slip

Here is Miss Rhiannon's Christening Gown and Slip. The gown fabric is a 100% cotton striped voile. The lace is new. The smocking was done with three shades of palest pink DMC floss gradating from dark to light toward the hem. The smocking treatment is what is called an overlay and thanks to Martha of Southern Matriarch I finally got it pleated neatly with no "y's". Her suggestion was to NOT baste the two layers together and let them just flow separately but equal into the pleater. It worked! Thanks, Martha! The pattern is Trudy Horne's Shoulder Button Bishop and you can see the rear view with the closure on the shoulder above. A word about this pattern: Placket! Like most heirloom patterns this one has 3/8 inch seams. That is what you are given to fold, make a placket, and put the buttons and loops too. Now whenever I use this pattern I make my own interfaced placket with a bias strip, much nicer. So be forewarned. Did you know that most heirlooms sewists would die at thought of interfacing their little treasures? I don't get it. Just look in one of the magazines at all the curled up collars!
Another sewing friend, Nonie, some time back told me about this Velcro Fusion. It is iron on and " gets stronger with washing" per the box. It is soft and so much easier to use in these tiny closures than buttons and loops. I like making loops but have found them very aggravating to close a garment on a wriggly newborn. So I am thinking of the mother here! In the pic you can see how it is applied to the shoulder of the slip. You have to make sure you get all the edges rounged and surrounded by fabric. Don't want any irritations on their angelic skin! The neck binding is the stripe cut on the bias with some interfacing to back it. I used FormFlex. The fabric was too sheer otherwise.

The hem is hand embroidered with double featherstitching. This treatment needed to be done to balance out all the frufru at the top of the dress. This is one of my favorite hem treatments and I went into a little more depth on it a few posts back. There is a great video of how to do it on that post.The sleeves have the lace attached with entredeaux to the fabric the pink floss is run thru. The floss is pulled to gather up the sleeve and tied in a little bow.

The slip is made out of a poly cotton blend. These blends do not iron up or stitch like the natural fibers but they do provide Mom with some sort of cleanability. Babies do sprinkle after all. All of the edges, including the hemline are stitched with shellstitching, another one of my machine favorites. That stitch gives you so much bang for your effort and really should be in everyone's toolbox. The heart on the bodice is of shape lace from my collection. It is appx 80 years old. The inside of the heart has Rhiannon's initials and birth date embroidered with a back stitch. Backstitching can give you lots of maneuverability around curves and corners and is great for numbers and letters. The bodice is joined to the skirt with entredeaux. Pink floss is then run thru the entredeaux and tied in a tiny bow at CF. I love making little girls slips. You can just get so feminine with them. The pattern for the slip is pretty much non existent. I took a bodice from Simp 5279, the dress. This is my go to bodice whenever I want to "make it my own." I extended one back shoulder a 1/2 inch and the matching front shoulder an inch and a half. After the shell stitching was done the velcro was applied, the shoulders lapped and shut. Again, easy for Mom to get Rhiannon out of her gown. I also didn't like the idea of two layers of hard little buttons sticking in her. One is enough!


The gown is ready to be shipped out tomorrow morning. I have spent most of today working on "reverse tulip" sleeves on a tiny little dress for a baby shower gift. These little outfits are just such fun, candy sewing. Back to the jacket soon! then Christmas, Yikes!........Bunny

ETA: My go to pattern, Simp 5279 is old, and I had no idea how much. While looking for a pic on Simp's site, it was out of print. Further googling let me know that it is from 1963! Wish I had pics but the only one I have found is a really poor one on ebay.


  1. Just found your blog!!!
    You do exquisite work. I learned to smock when my oldest dd (who is now 21) was about 6 months old. I did belong to the local SAGA chapter for a while, but I don't really have anyone to smock for anymore, but still LOVE it, as well as Heirloom sewing. I'm curious as to what type of lace you used on this creation. Also, at one point you said you used fine thread to attach the lace??? but you didn't baste it on before (the second time) you pleated it. I'm confused. I've read many of your entries, but it'll take a while to read everything from the start. One thing I DID read was how you were taught Heirloom sewing by the Spanish nuns - fascinating story. I wish the nuns at the small parochial school I attended would have taught ME how to French hand sew, alas I DID learn how to knit from one of them!!!
    Look forward to reading more, including your other fiber arts!!!

  2. The dress is stunning! You are such a good seamstress.

  3. Thanks, both of you. Designdreamer, when the bishop dress was "pre-pleat" in flat form, I measured down from the neckline appx 3 inches and that is where the lace attachment begins. Most of the smocking is just done on the dress fabric,not on any lace. So the lace is attached about 3 inches down. When I stitched that to the voile I used extra fine machine embroidery thread. It literally disappeared in the lace. This lace is not anything really fancy. It is a poly, and resonably priced. The lace on the slip is from a horde I inherited from a great aunt many years ago. It is about 80 years old, maybe more, but at least that. I do not have access here to any heirloom shops or lovely laces. I have bought them online but I am very tactile and always prefer what I can see and touch in person to what I order on line, no matte what it is. So I get things from my stash or my local vendor, who does not carry anything high end.

    My first pleating attempt followed what I have read everywhere: the two layers were hand basted together and run thru the pleater. This gave me lots of y pleats and uneven pleating. Martha, of Southern Matriarch, suggested just pleating the layers together without any basting. I truly did not believe it would work but it did. She knows her stuff! Check out her latest post, fabulous! So I basically laid the lace on top of the voile, lining up the edge of the voile with one indentation on the pleater and the lace with another indentation. Then I had to watch them both to keep them lined up as I pleated VERY slowly. But the end result was perfect as far as the pleating went.

    Welcome to my blog and thanks ever so much for your comments and stopping by. Thank you, also, Lisa.

  4. hay que hermoso.. Bunny tengo una pregunta existe en la web algun lugar donde conseguir patrones de ropa para niños que sea gratis?
    si supueras tengo 2 amigas que estan embarazadas y deso regalarle un vestido hoy rescatado una revista dde smock pero claro yo hare a la manera tradicional frunciendo la tela yo porco a poco, pero antes quiero volver a ller mas del tema sabes de sitios en la web?
    saludos nela
    pd ese saco que te has hecho quedo genial y me encanta el boton esta hermossisimo...

  5. Hello Bunny
    I love your new creation ! I can see how much love went into its stunning look ! Well done, this has to be a favourite of mine ! Dana

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  7. Thank you for showing your beautiful dress and talking about it! It helps me learn, and I appreciate that so much. Have a good week! Hallie

  8. Nela, ire a su blog/sitio con la informacion. No se de un sitio donde hay patrones del smocking que son gratis, pero conozco donde hay otros patrones para ninos que son gratis. Tambien se de un sitio donde hay patrones solamente para el border del smocking que son gratis. Muchas hacen lo que se llama un "insert". Esto es tela pliegada hecho de un pedazo de tela la anchez de la tela, usualment 45 pulgadas por 6 o 7 pulgadas. Se hace las pliegas, y el broder. Cuando terminado es puesto en una seccion del traje o vestido.
    Hoy dia estoy trabajando, pero cuando termino te respondere con un email. Mi email esta en la primera pagina del blog. Hasta luego, carin

  9. The dress is absolutely gorgeous. I am sure it will become a family heirloom. Even though I do not do heirloom sewing, I am a great admiror. The dress is absolutely gorgeous. I am sure it will become a family heirloom. Even though I do not do heirloom sewing, I am a great admirer.

  10. Omigosh, you are too fabulous for words. This is exquisite, Bunny!

  11. Such a sweet little thing! Your family does not know what treasure they have with you.

    The buttons for the coat are lovely - just perfect for the seriousness of the grey wool.

    I will be going to Martin's tomorrow night - I got there too late Sat. night and too early today (go figure!). I'll let you know what is still available, but the last time I was there, they'd combined what was left of both floors and it was rather crowded and disorganized.

  12. Thanks, Summerset. Greatly appreciated. My luck it will be all gone by Thanksgiving week. That's OK, I can always hit the Fix.

  13. Just beautiful!! I have been waiting to see the finished creation. You did a wonderful job. I bet she will be gorgeous on her special day. Your smocking looks wonderful. I have never tried one of the shoulder bishops. It is always on my list. May have to try it next time. Can't wait to see the newest creation.

  14. Hola bunny ya te escribi... jajaja yo ya he hecho smog... solo que hace mas de 15 años... claro es como manejar bicicletas.. jajajajja yo nunca aprendi a manejar bicicleta... lo que quiero es conocer medidas antro`pormetricas de bebes... por imaginacion no importa yo me las ingenio.. ademas le voy a quitar a lolo su libro de la a-z de smog que me encanta... y asi me ideo diseños lo que quiero es mas que todo patron base y lo demas tu sabes yo me las ingenio..
    graciassss y muchos besos

  15. Bunny, your work is timeless! Such a treasure you've made, my goodness it's amazing. Your patience and talent is more than I could ever hope to attain. Thanks so much for sharing such an inspirational heirloom.

  16. I add my congratulations to me., Bunny. The dress is great. It is a pleasure for you, I'm sure. Thanks for showing all the details.

    My best wishes and see you soon.


    Me añado a las felicitaciones., Bunny. El vestido está genial. Es una satisfacción para usted, estoy seguro. Gracias por mostrar todos los detalles.

    Mis mejores deseos y hasta pronto.


  17. Que placer! Thanks to all for the lovely comments. You are all so encouraging. The blue Hyacinth should be up on the blog tomorrow.


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