Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From wedding dress to christening gown: Part 1, Cutting and Deconstruction

I think a few people who know me might be really surprised to hear that my child is being baptized, but it's something that is really important to many members of my family, my husband not the least of all.  My contribution to his christening (and likely our potential future children's christenings) is the conversion of my wedding dress into his christening gown.

Since this is a pretty long and involved process, I've decided to split up the posts into a few parts for easier reading: deconstructing the dress, cutting the pattern and sewing the gown, and adding notions and the final reveal.

The dress
I first heard of this concept around the time we got married, so I made sure to get my wedding dress cleaned well after the party to make sure I had the most fabric available.  My dress definitely deserves to be worn again, and since I don't plan to get married another time I couldn't imagine a better way to make sure that happens.

Luckily, my friend (and sewing mentor) Anna had a christening gown pattern I could use.  This is most helpful since I wanted to make sure my proportions were correct and this gown had a chance of fitting my son!  I'll be honest, the hardest part was picking a gown to make--I wanted to make sure it was a fashion that would be useful for either a boy or a girl.  I ended up picking one that was a little plain, but considering the lace pattern of my wedding dress, I'm not sure one of the more intricate designs would have worked without purchasing quite a bit of other fabric.

As you'll see here, I chose the slip (design D) and the sleeves from design C.  I figured this was thre most gender neutral of the gowns, as the trend now seems to be for boys to wear trousers.

Skirt Close Up
Deconstructing the dress was an exercise in discovery and also a learning process.  Even for my "crappy" David's Bridal gown, I found a lot of infrastructure that I hadn't realize existed in there.  There was quite of bit of light boning, many linings, interfacing, etc.  I was happy to learn that one of the lining layers was satin, so that I don't have to go out to buy that for the christening gown.  Biggest surprise?  The lace on my dress was not tatted how it apeared on my dress.  Pieces had been individually cut out and sewn onto tulle and beaded over to make the declining pattern on the skirt. 

After taking apart the various layers of the dress, I went through and took apart the seams of each layer.  I left the hems intact, though--I don't see the point in taking them out when I'll just have to re-do them myself later. 

Tulle & Lace Layer
The layers I found were a cotton/poly blend  inner lining, the satin lining, a plain layer of tulle, and then the lace/tulle outlayer.  I also took of the lace sleeves (with the interfacing stablizer that keeps it all together), which I'm thinking I might be able to turn into a collar, and saved the beaded sash which I could add onto the christening gown for some extra bling if the future potential child(ren) is a girl.  We'll see...

The deconstruction took me the better part of an afternoon and evening, mostly because of the lace which I didn't want to rip.  I was so focused on preserving the integrity of each fabric, that I didn't realize until after I was done that I probably should have tried my wedding dress on one last time before "destroying" it.  Then I remembered that I just had a baby 2 months ago, and parts of me definitely wouldn't fit into anymore and I probably would have been frustrated with the zipper.  I was (and frankly still am) pretty surprised by the emotion, but it gives me even more incentive to get this christening gown done right!

Hopefully next week, I can get far enough along in the next step to post about the cutting and some initial sewing.  Wish me luck!

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