Finished Project · Sewing

An Angelic Gown

The angelic gown for my niece’s baptism is finally completed.  Here it is in all of its radiant glory.

This dress is long – it measures 36″ from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the lace hem.  The length was set by the pattern, McCalls M4865, and its sizing for the 3-6 month range.  I cut the pattern directly as is, though as I said before, a smidgen of the width was taken out due to fabric restrictions.

The blouse is highlighted by a row of lace, held in place using an invisible catch stitch.

The lace was sewn to the bodice using a catch stitch before the bodice was sewn to the lining.

This same lace is mirrored on the hem, and, when combined with a few rows of pin tucks, it gives a very elegant finish to the dress.

The lace was thoughtfully sewn in so as to prevent any unfinished edges from showing along the hem.

A view of the hem inside out.

The top also features cute little gathered sleeves, bound by a thin strip of bias binding made from the fashion fabric.

The sleeves were set in to the blouse between the bodice and its lining, an idea I picked up from Jodi of Sew Fearless, who used this same pattern a few months back for her daughter’s Christening gown.  The sleeve seams were hidden by simply slipstitching the lining to the bodice arm holes after the sleeves had been attached to the bodice.  I also took the time to understitch the lining by hand using a pickstitch, which made for a clean finish to the neckline.

The back of the dress features three silk duchesse-covered buttons left over from the making of my wedding dress.

Because I’d cut the pattern with a center back seam, the hardest part of sewing the pattern was figuring out how to attach the facing for the lapped seam that allows the opening in the back to continue into the dress.

It should have been straightforward, but it took me a couple tries before I properly wrapped by head around what exactly was going on with the fabric here.

My biggest regret with this dress was not sewing French seams for all of the exposed seams.  I just don’t think I have enough sewing under my belt to have simple steps like that ingrained into my habits.  It wasn’t until the end of the dress that I noticed the unfinished seams.  Having already added the pin tucks and lace hem, there was no way to move backward.

My solution was to add bias binding to enclose the raw edges.  I made bias binding from scraps of the fashion fabric, and stitched it on by hand, first with a basting stitch to ensure it was properly aligned, then with a back stitch to permanently hold it in place.  My hand stitches are rough, and I’m very thankful that these seams are hidden inside the dress.

For the little exposed seams on the sleeves, I simply hand overcast the edges.  There was just no way to neatly cover them with bias binding without unstitching.

That said, I’m very happy with this dress.  It’s everything I dreamed it would be.  I’ll ship it off to Seattle tomorrow, and in a few days time it’ll be hanging out with the golden bear and waiting for its moment in the spotlight.

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34 thoughts on “An Angelic Gown

    1. Thanks Jodi! I’m so happy I found the post about the gown that you made your daughter. You put so many thoughtful details into yours, that I was inspired to do the same.

  1. This is an amazingly beautiful gown! You put so much thought, time, and skill into each little detail I’m sure it will be treasured for a long time!

    1. Thanks Jessica! I, too, hope it will be treasured for a long time. I’m also looking forward to making more little baby things for my niece. The pattern pieces for little girls’ dresses are perfect for using old, no-longer-worn clothes from the back of my closet. Yay for recycling!

  2. Oh Amy, this is just lovely and beautiful pictures, too. You must be so proud – I really love completing special-occasion garments for loved ones. They have entire worlds and stories in them.

    1. Thanks Amy! I am trying to make more of an effort with my pictures, so thanks for noticing. I am very proud. And, my husband loved your choice of words… “entire worlds and stories in them.” So poetic.

  3. Hi, Amy. Aunt Betty told me that you had a sewing blog and emailed me the link. I’ve been meaning to leave you a comment for a while now.

    Everything that you’ve made is so lovely, especially this Christening gown. All of the time and effort you put into it makes it really special. Congratulations on your new baby niece, by the way! =) She’s beautiful, and we’re so happy for Barrett and Amy.

    ~Kristin

    1. Hi Kristin, Great to hear from you! I have to admit I’ve been following your blog as well. I found it randomly through BurdaStyle – you’d commented on a contest, and I recognized your photo. I love all of your embroidery, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for your Etsy shop. Send my love to your family!

      1. When I first read your blog, I noticed that we seem to visit a lot of the same sewing websites and blogs. I was surprised that we hadn’t crossed paths yet, but I guess we had and I just didn’t realize it!

        I tend to read like that, too. I’ll do a lot of reading for a few days, and then I’ll slow down for a while. Sometimes I think I read too much when I ought to be doing other things. =)

        And I just wanted to let you know that I shipped out your wallet this morning. I usually send a convo on Etsy, but since I was going to comment I figured I would just tell you here. Tell all of your family I said hello, too!

        ~Kristin

  4. This is a gorgeous piece of work! And good for you for finishing the seams… at that stage (especially for what looks like a one-time-occasion dress) I would probably not have bothered. It’s exquisite! 🙂

    1. Yes, the seam finishing was a tough one for me. I wanted to just leave them as is, but I kept imagining the following:

      Thirty years have passed. My sister-in-law carefully lifts the Christening gown from the cedar chest in order to pass it along to her daughter, my niece, who’s now getting ready to have her own child. They marvel at the dress, turning it around and then insi… doh! The seams have all frayed, leaving little strings everywhere.

      Crazy, right? Oh well. I figured it was a good lesson for me to try, though I’m still not very happy with them. Notice I didn’t show any pictures of my seam binding work. My hand sewing is all kinds of a mess.

  5. This is such a beautiful Christening gown, which will, no doubt, be handed down from generation to generation. You can see that you’ve made this with love with careful attention to detail. I love the lace especially. Congratulations on such an exquisite job!

    1. Thanks! I do hope it becomes an heirloom. If not though, I’m still very happy to have had the experience making this dress. I hope to make many more little dresses for my niece! At least until she gets old enough to pick out her own clothes!

  6. Amy you should be really proud to have made such a special and beautiful gown – it will be treasured! I like the contemporary feel to it – stunning!!

  7. Now I don’t know if you got that comment? Anyway …. what I originally said was that you should be proud – the dress will be treasured and that it is contemporary and stunning!!! Sorry about the confusion …???

    1. WordPress makes me approve comments from anyone it thinks is a new commenter. Once approved, comments come up automatically from then on out. Since your information was linked to “Express Helmets” and not “And Sew It Seams,” it thought you were new, and I had to approve the comment. I wasn’t able to until just now since I’ve been at a work function all night. Thanks though for your wonderful compliments. You always have something nice to say!

  8. I am making the same dress for my daughter’s baptism. What kind of fabric did you use? I love the look. You did an amazing job!

  9. Pingback: Lace. | Sew Well
    1. I made it for a chubby three-month-old little girl (she was over ten pounds when she was born!), and it fit her well, only the arm bands at the bottom of the sleeves were VERY snug. I can’t remember which size I made though… I’d probably say true to size, but watch the sleeves if the baby is on the chubbier side!

      1. Hahahaha! Then, I may not be correctly remembering which size I chose. Or, I may have gotten lucky that my niece was so big!

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