10 Oct 08

Christening Gown

Human larvae have very few redeeming qualities. They can’t hold down a conversation, they can’t play video games, and they are so lazy they even expect people to clean up their poop for them. But dang, are they cute. A friend is expecting a pretty little girl any second now, and I recalled her saying a while ago that she regretted not having any heirloom type items in her family. So I thought she might appreciate a baby gown for the ceremony at church.

I usually draft my own patterns, but as I’ve never sewed for a baby I needed something to start from. I chose Butterick B4964, but knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t be reproducing the item on the cover.

The pattern called for the use of embroidered organza and shiny satin, with buttons and bows and silliness galore. I looked at the organza at the shop and just laughed. It’s all so shiny and fluffy. If you don’t simply lose track of the baby in the giant fluffy cloud, the kid will just slide right out and rocket to the floor. Not a good idea. Instead, I decided to eliminate the big fluffball split up the middle of the gown and make it out of matte satin, creamy chiffon, and lace. I’ve never been much of a fan of snow white for formal wear — too icy and stiff. Even the most slightly off-white color can take white from cold to silky soft.

The bodice and sleeves are made of four layers: lining, satin, chiffon, and lace overlay. The lace is only sewn in at the top and sides, with the bottom hanging free over the top of the skirt. I eventually tacked it into place so it wouldn’t ride up.

Because this is a ceremonial dress for an infant, I also decided to do away with all unneccessary aspects of construction. I didn’t want to bother with buttons. Babies need to lay on their backs, are wiggly and difficult to dress, and somehow small hard things of just the right size to block a windpipe don’t really seem the ideal item to add to something they’re wearing. So I cheated and used velcro to close the back. Nice and soft, easy to use, and it allows for snugger adjustments to the fit.

And last but not least, I couldn’t help adding a nice silly bonnet with lots of lace.

Update: February 4, 2009

She’s here! They ended up bumping the date of the baby blessing forward to accommodate family, so the gown is a little too big but she still looked cute.