I’ve made a few heirloom baby dresses before, but never for my own children! Now that I’m pregnant with two twin girls, it was really important to me to make a very special set of heirloom christening-style dresses for my future daughters. I figured that once they are born, I’ll be unlikely to have the time to focus on making a detailed set of dresses like this for a while. Secondarily, I’ve been stuck on modified bedrest for a few months now and the ribbon embroidery I wanted to do on these dresses would allow me to have things to work on while reclining. With just about a week before my girls will be born, I’m done with the dresses!
I used KariMeAway’s Fairytale Finery Gown, Slip and Bonnet pattern. I didn’t use the hand and ribbon embroidery instructions she included, though. Instead, I used some of this set of machine embroidery files from Secrets of Embroidery. When I bought the files, they were on sale for $1.50! Awesome! I used slightly different embroidery files for each of the twins dresses.
My first step was to block out the pattern pieces that required machine embroidery. I traced the pattern onto squares of batiste that were bigger than what the pattern piece required for the smaller pieces. And then the larger ones (that would allow embroidery hooping without going over the edge of the pattern, I just went ahead and cut out the pattern piece from batiste. I then embroidered them on my machine. In some cases, I only had the machine embroider the green leaf and vine patterns (not the roses) since I would be filling in those gaps with ribbon embroidery roses later.
Often while one piece was embroidering on the machine, I’d do lace shaping or ribbon embroidery on another piece. KariMeAway’s pattern includes details on how to do lace shaping. I’d originally learned the technique (with some other heirloom sewing techniques) in an heirloom baby dress class I’d taken at my local Joann’s Fabrics a few years ago. (You might check your local to see if they have one, it’s fun to learn stuff like this in person.)
Below, you can see me starting to add ribbon embroidery and beads. The combination of the flat machine embroidery and the three dimensional ribbon embroidery is really pretty to me! (And the machine embroidery saved me time.) I used what I learned in the Costume College class “Silk Ribbon Embroidery” by Maryann Jones as well as the book, The Art of Silk Ribbon Embroidery. Ribbon embroidery isn’t that hard… you should try it!