Monday, July 12, 2010

French Acadian Christening Gown and Bonnet

Several years ago I took  two classes from Jeannie Baumeister of Baton Rouge, LA. These were a 12 hour (2 day) class to make the French Acadian Christening Gown, and a 6 hour (1 day) class to make the French Acadian Christening Bonnet. What is especially lovely about this gown and bonnet, aside from the wonderful laces and Swiss Batiste fabric, is that it is made entirely by hand!

Every pintuck, feather stitch, hemstitch, seam, and on and on is done by hand with a needle and thread!

Look at the hemstitching in the center. Now this is Swiss Batiste, a very finely woven fabric. Hemstitching is usually done on linen, which is quite a bit coarser and therefore the threads are much easier to remove. Luckily I happened to have a Microtex machine sewing needle with an especially fine tip. This made it much easier to pick out the first thread to remove. The rest came relatively easier. But all of the hemstitching had to be done through a magnifier, as it was so fine. Also notice the lace. We had to sew the lace in by hand, which was pretty easy with a running stitch, but then clip the fabric behind it and roll and whip the edges by hand. Not so easy.

Compared to the hemstitch and roll and whip stitching, the bullions and feather stitching were a cinch!

Notice the three rows of pintucks between the featherstitching. They aren't too difficult, but you do need to  stay on the straight of grain, which is very painstaking.

Now the bonnet. Isn't is sweet? In some way this was more difficult than the gown, as the front panel is such a small piece of fabric.

So why am I grumbling so much? This was a very challenging project, but well worth the time and effort. It came out just beautifully! There is something very satisfying to know that you can make a complete baby garment, dress, bonnet and slip, entirely by hand. This was a pretty big project, and took me several months to complete. At the time I was traveling quite a bit for work, but would take the dress and an Ott Light with me where ever I went. I would grab a quick bite for dinner and sit in the hotel in the evenings and work on it while watching TV.  This did not endear me to my coworkers, who all wanted to go out in the evenings for a nice dinner and drinks. Oh well, they survived.

This particular dress, much more than any others I have made, boosted my confidence in my own sewing ability. I think that it was because it was made entirely by hand - no sewing machine at all. Now I just hope I'll have a grandbaby who can wear it. My one and only granddaughter has never worn it and is now much too big for it.


  1. You did a beautiful job!! I am so pleased that you finished it!

  2. I am attempting to make this for my granddaughter. I will tell you it's one of those things that terrifies me, so I keep putting away. One specific thing is on the instructions it has a neck template to cut out after tracing it from the instructions. I have already cut it out and it doesn't look like it needs it. It confuses me, did I make any sense? Thanks

  3. Hi Mary,
    My pattern is all packed away so I can't answer your question, but the best thing to do is to email Jeannie - she should be able to help you. Good luck, I'm sure it will be beautiful.
    Cynthia Gilbreth


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