We know that many things can be considered an heirloom garment--from a flour sack dress from a Depression-era ancestor to a velvet cape from Paris brought home by an adoring grandmother.
Today, there is a resurgence of interest in heirloom garments for children, beautiful clothing made by hand or machine, in the tradition of the techniques of old:French Hand Sewing. A garment made completely by hand is a treasure and a thing of beauty. These techniques can easily be sewn by machine, and as you can imagine, much more quickly!
A custom made heirloom garment is the perfect choice for a christening/dedication gown, a new baby layette, portraits, weddings, Easter, and the list goes on and on!!!
If you are new to these breathtaking garments, I would like to give a tutorial in just what they are and what it is that qualifies them as heirloom garments.
Fabrics--100% natural fibers
Swiss batiste, Swiss Pima Batiste and Broadcloth, Lawn, Voile, Organdy, Linen
Laces and Trims
French and English Laces (photo creds:Capitol Imports)
Entredeux Lace Edging
Swiss Embroideries Tatting
Hand embroidery Tucks
Puffing Lace Shaping
A garment may consist of some or even all of these trims and/or techniques.
A few tips--these are my own personal thoughts and observations:
Look for a garment made of natural fiber fabrics. Garments certainly can be made of a poly/cotton blend, such as Imperial Batiste, which will require little to no ironing. But my personal preference is for the natural fiber fabrics. I just like the look they impart to the garment. There is an old saying that " you can tell a true heirloom by the amount of wrinkles."
Always be sure the laces are not polyester, but a 90% cotton, 10% nylon blend, which is what the French and English laces are. Polyester laces can melt under the iron and will yellow over time.
If you are fortunate enough to have some beauty pins, either passed down or new, consider using these instead of buttons and button holes, on the closing of a dress or christening gown. These are tiny bar shaped pins, in gold, silver, or mother of pearl. Of course, mother of pearl buttons are always beautiful on any garment.
A few personal insights:
It is my own personal design aesthetic to keep colors pale, and details small and dainty.
To reduce the inevitable wrinkles in a car seat, dress the girl in just her slip for the ride to an event, then slip the dress on once there.
Many times, a garment can be worn for years, with only an adjustment to length needed.
If you dream of dressing a future baby, or grandbaby, in heirlooms one day, don't wait until the announcement is made to start planning. Fill up a hope chest now!!!
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