From Wedding Dress to Christening Gown

October 27, 2010

I blogged last month about my intention to make a christening gown out of my wedding dress. Well, I did it!! The dress came out really well – it brought tears to my eyes when I finally tried the finished christening gown on Eva. Doesn’t she look so beautiful?

My attempts to get a good photo of it have been thwarted so far by the terrible lighting in my flat (what has happened to the sunlight?), and we haven’t had time to get the photos of the baptism day back from friends and family yet. But I couldn’t wait to share any longer, so please excuse the poor image quality of these snapshots.

The dress started life as a wedding gown…

…as you can see, the skirt is made up of panels, which severely restricts the amount of fabric available to make the christening gown from. I hadn’t realised how much of an issue this would be until I actually started designing the gown.

For the design, I used a McCall’s girls’ dress pattern for the lined bodice, but the skirt section I designed myself as I couldn’t find one that didn’t utilise gathers or pleats. I also added cap sleeves as I thought they’d look really cute.

Another complication was the lace at the hem of the dress. I wanted to keep the hem of the wedding dress as the hem of the baptism dress, as I really didn’t feel like unpicking the lace and stitching it back on. I mocked up the skirt section of the wedding dress with muslin, to help work out the best way to make the skirt section of the christening gown from it. This was easier than trying to work it out on pen and paper – though I did get a good refresher of my A level trigonometry as part of this!

In the end I decided the best thing to minimise lace issues was to have just one seam on the skirt. I cut out the skirt section like so, so there’d be only one new seam to sew, on the left side…

The midpoint of my wedding dress is at the midpoint of this skirt section, where the new front and back sections meet (the bottom of the ‘V’ shape). As you can see in the picture, there were existing seams, so both the front and back of the christening gown ended up with two seams as part of the design. For the new side seam, I made sure I removed all beads and sequins in the vicinity of it, to avoid breaking my sewing machine needle. I then stitched straight through the lace. The skirt had lining attached at the bottom, which was handy as it meant I could open out the lining, sew the seam right across the fabric and then continue across the lining, turn the lining right way round and the new seam was nicely hidden between the lining and fabric.

For the opening, I re-used the original buttons on the dress.

Designing how the dress would go together was by far the most time consuming task. The actual sewing didn’t take that long at all – the bodice was rather fiddly, as I made it fully lined, and there was a fair bit of slipstitching required around the sleeves and other bits. The biggest design challenge came when I realised that the hem was not straight, even at the front. It has a smooth curve to it, which is why the dress ended up with an asymmetric hem. However, you really couldn’t tell when she was wearing it, and besides, it adds to its uniqueness :-) .

Originally I had intended to write a comprehensive tutorial on how to make a christening gown from a wedding dress, but if there’s one thing I learnt, what you can do really does completely depend on the design of your original dress. Despite my dress having so much fabric to it, there was only a small part of it that was suitable because I was keeping the hem section, and because of the curve to the hem.

I am so delighted with the end result and really excited at the thought of the christening gown being used over and over in our family. And having made this gown has really re-awakened my passion for sewing – I get so little time to do it these days. I am going to have to work out a way to spend more time at the sewing machine – it’s such a lovely way to relax and unwind!

The actual baptism took place last Sunday and we all had a lovely day – it went brilliantly. I’ll try to share more photos when I get them from our family.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona October 27, 2010 at 10:18 am

It looks amazing, Eva certainly looks very happy to be wearing it!

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Tabatha Tweedie October 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Aaaw, she looks gorgeous in it! It’s beautiful – well done! Glad you had a good day too. Trigonometry seems to be useful in sewing!

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Cyndi Beane Henry October 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm

What a beautiful christening gown that is certain to become a family heirloom! You did a wonderful job in making this beautiful dress from your wedding gown! Happy congrat’s on a job well done!

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claire October 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm

oh it really is stunning. Well done..I got bamboozled just reading about you trying to work it out!!
x

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Julia October 30, 2010 at 1:42 pm

It looks gorgeous, and she looks so happy! Well done, Leah!

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Maria November 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Oh it’s very lovely – I really like the way you used the hem! You did it!! Good job!

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Amrutha February 28, 2012 at 6:05 am

your baby looks beautiful. my baby’s baptism is due next month. I’m planning to make her a christening dress from my wedding gown. thanks for your help.

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Linda Patrick October 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

What a gorgeous dress. I convert wedding dresses to christening gowns for a living so I understand all your frustrations in the fact you have a lot of fabric but can only use a small amount!!
For more information on wedding gown conversions please visit my site and look on the wedding gown conversion pages.
Cheers
Linda

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leanne June 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm

hi thats stunning how did you come about doing that and how would i do it for both my girls im planning there christening for next year im really struggerling finding someone to do it for me xx

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leanne June 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm

hi thats stunning how did you come about doing that and how would i do it for both my girls im planning there christening for next year im really struggerling finding someone to do it for me xxxx

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Nicole April 2, 2014 at 6:39 am

Wow your baby so cute!When it comes to dressing little princes, the comfortable fabric and simple yet attractive designs holds the importance. These dresses are really perfect for the little princes to be worn in celebration days.

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