It’s not actually a new project; if I am recalling correctly, I talked with Mom about replicating the fabulously ornate family heirloom christening dress (which all of us: Dad, Grandpa Al, and Great-Aunt Nan wore on the occasion of being sworn by our adult guardians into various Episcopal or Lutheran congregations) sometime in the year after the house in Valley Center burned to the ground with all of it’s contents save a handful of small and portable items. The christening dress was an elaborate, Victorian item, with a matching slip and another, slightly less ornate baby dress of the same vintage but in slightly heavier cotton lawn/muslin materiel. They were gorgeous things, all hand-sewn, with panels of narrow tucks and featherstitching, simply foaming with delicate eyelet lace trim. And in the desperate hurry to get away, with the fire roaring up the canyon below the house, Mom forgot the box with the christening dress in it – and to be fair, a lot of other cherished family stuff as well. For ourselves at the time, we mourned the loss of the Christmas things, and the stockings that Granny Jessie had knitted all for us over the years, with our names worked into the tops. They were in several dusty cartons in the rafters of the garage, and who would think to retrieve them in an emergency, anyway? I sort-of-replicated them in felt, knitting not being one of my skills, in time for the next Christmas that the Daughter Unit and I spent in California … but there seemed to be no particular and urgent need to replicate the christening dress until this year, as there were no infant candidates in the family to be presented for the customary ceremony … until now.

So I have unearthed the Past Patterns envelope from the sewing closet, a pattern that I located and purchased fifteen years or so ago, as the design most nearly approximated the family christening dress. With a little searching through what was offered at a certain high-end fabric retailer, I found three and a half yards of very fine pima cotton lawn, which arrived today. As near as I can recollect, this has the same feel, weight, and texture as the fabric of which the lost christening gown was made. But now I am on a quest for embroidered eyelet lace of the same fine and ultra-high quality. I know that such is out there, as I bought some very fine stuff at a department store in Spain some decades ago, and I belong to a good few FB costume groups where this kind of item is frequently de-stashed by enthusiasts and offered to members. Still … can I get it and finish the gown before – say, the end of summer?

Stay tuned, sports fans. This is gonna be fun. Thrills, chills, vintage sewing techniques and antique lace.  

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