Friday, May 20, 2011

Heirloom Sewing

Anyone who knows me also knows that I adore Martha Pullen. I've been to five of her schools and I would go to every one of them if I could afford it. Martha and her staff are pure delight to be around and their enthusiasm is contagious.... I just wish their creative minds were as well. Martha is the 'mother' of heirloom sewing as far as I'm concerned. Should you have the opportunity to attend any one of her classes, trust me, jump on it! What I have learned from her and the instructors at her schools is priceless. Working with Swiss Batiste's and French laces is mesmerizing. They are so beautiful and so beautiful to work with.

Having shared all that I have above, it brings me to the reason for this post. My son married a wonderful girl whose family is Catholic. Coming from a Baptist background, making a Christening Gown never crossed my mind until my new daughter-in -law asked if I would be willing to make one of these gowns when her and my son had their first child. Since I had been making every other heirloom item under the sun, I thought I should at least give it a try. Right away Martha Pullen's patterns came to mind. She had two gowns custom made for her grandchildren. Below are the pictures of the two pattern books that represent each gown. Impressive aren't they?

Once I figured out just how much each one of these gowns would cost to make, I nearly fainted! Still... I was determined to make a gown for my family. I set to work designing my own gown and purchasing a medium grade of batiste that didn't cost nearly as much ($9-12.00 per yard) as the top grade ($29.00 per yard). It is unbelievable how much fabric these gowns, with matching slips require. The top picture of the dresses above took 7 1/2 yards... just for the fabric. This certainly does not include all of the different laces, Swiss entredeux, ribbon, beauty pins, etc.. Undeterred, I continued on my mission and here is what I came up with.

I did a lot of handwork on the dress, along with the slip but alas, you can't really see it. I'm so sorry that the pictures aren't the greatest, but hopefully you can get an idea of what the gown and slip looks like. The first picture is of the slip.

Here is the back of the slip. I did not want to stitch buttonholes into the fabric, so I handsewed little buttons on instead and used clear snaps on the inside back. I trimmed the collar and armholes with the prettiest, little lace that I could find. It was so dainty.

For the front, I made several rows of pintucks along with rows and rows of lace butted up right next to each other. (It's as though you were making your own fabric in a way.) I found a really nice embroidery design of a cross that I placed in the center front.

A close up of the embroidery design. As you can see, I combined a couple of different designs together to obtain the look that I was going for.

Thanks for stopping by!

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