Monday, April 18, 2011

1917 Christening Gown

Anna called a few weeks ago and asked if I could go with her to look at a family Christening gown which was in need of repair. Experience had me prepared for almost anything since I have seen many gowns beyond repair, so I was thrilled when the first thing I saw when a walked in was an archival box! As the box was opened my hopes grew as I saw layers of the correct tissue paper.

I started asking the normal questions such as ,"Do you know how old the gown is and who made it?" when a piece of paper was pulled out with the date and name of the Great grandmother who made it in 1917 along with names of all the babies who have been Christened in this treasured gown. When I commented on the fact that 18 names for one gown was awesome, I was instructed to ,"Turn the page over!" Let's just say, that I lost count after 30!

I have never run across a gown this old that was in such good condition and as white. I was told that it did not look this good until a couple of years ago when one of the young women in the family rescued and restored the gown following professional restoration instructions. The biggest problem that the gown had was a hole on the front yoke where the fabric had disintegrated. The fabric was so fine that my goal was the stabilize the fabric so that the hole would not continue to grow. When I got home I discovered that Martha Pullen's Victorian Batiste was almost a perfect match. I cut a piece of fabric the shape of the damaged section and stitched it to the wrong side, then trimmed the frayed edges of the hole, and stitched tiny running stitches around the edges.

The gown was mainly sewn on a sewing machine and was made with lace insertion and edgings. The slip was made from a much coarser fabric and was trimmed with hand crocheted edging which hangs down about 3" below the edge of the gown.

I considered it a huge privilege to see and handle this family treasure and it was ready just in time for the ceremony on Saturday. I'll be sure to post a picture of Anna's little one in the gown in a few months!

*Anna has 30 days to go! Not that she is counting....... :)



seamsgreat said...

Wow! What an honor to touch such a wonderful Heirloom.

Martha said...

What a treasure. And what an honor that they thought enough of you and your skills to ask you to repair it. I think I would have broken out in a cold sweat at the thought. It really is beautiful.

Cynthia Gilbreth said...

I agree with Martha! I have repaired a few old quilts in my time but never anything this old or fine. It is absolutely beautiful and I'm sure it will only enhance the beauty of the next little one to wear it.

Jan M said...

A lovely and treasured gown that will now bless many more little babes, thanks to you! Knowing you, not only did you do a beautiful job, but there are probably a few prayers stitched in there, too!

robbir said...

Today my second grandchild Weston Charles is wearing the 101 year old christening gown made for his great grandfather. He will be the fourth Charles to wear it. It looks similar to the one you have and feel so blessed that my mother-in-law left it in my care. I had a special frame made for it that is hinged on one side so we can get it out for each grandchild. I am going to monogram the initials og each child who wore it on the slip.


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