Thalia’s Baptism Gown

One of my closest friends, Alexis,  has a daughter named Thalia.  I was honored when she asked her to be Thalia’s godmother and I offered to make little T’s baptism gown.   Fun fact – Alexis and I bonded over the fact that we are both half-Armenian, but we actually met volunteering at a snowboarding event for families of 9-11 firefighters.


Thalia with her parents and godparents

I have never made anything like this but I dove right into. Luckily Alexis gave me free reign on the design of the dress and I wanted to do something really special! I picked up a used copy of Martha Pullen’s Grandmothers Hope Chest at Powells to get some ideas. This book is a great reference for a lot of heirloom sewing techniques! Sadly the copy I bought didn’t have the patterns in it.


There are not tons of patterns for christening gowns available, so I bought Simplicity 2457. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but it gave me a good starting point. I had the pattern and I knew I wanted to use a lot of heirloom sewing on this gown like insertion lace, pintucks and swiss embroidery.  I also had to find fabric. Heirloom batiste is incredibly expensive and I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on materials.  Luckily I live in Portland where fabric stores are plentiful!

My first stop was the Button & Ribbon Emporium in downtown Portland. They have a small selection of French insertion laces, Swiss embroideries and entredeux. I bought some floral insertion lace, but I wasn’t loving any of their Swiss embroideries.  So my next stop was Fabric Depot. The bridal/fancy fabrics department was extremely helpful in selecting fabrics. They didn’t have any fancy batiste but I was very happy with my fabrics. I bought Kaufman Radiance Cotton/Silk in Satin White for the dress and Kaufman Vanessa Silky Cotton for the slip.


I also ventured over to the trims and found that Fabric Depot does carry a few heirloom sewing trims! They had a Swiss Embroidery that I liked so I bought it. Supplies – done!

I also wanted to get a pintuck foot for my Viking 350. I have secretly wanted one of these for years but I haven’t ever had a real reason to use it…but now I did! Lastly, in the 17 years I have owned my sewing machine I have never had it in for tuning, so I decided this was a good time.


So with fabric, trims, pintuck foot, and freshly serviced sewing machine I was ready to sew.  This seems very complicated, but honestly it wasn’t that hard or long to make with some heirloom sewing tricks. The pintuck foot is awesome! You only need to mark one line and then that first pintuck is used as a guide for all of the other tucks. You just need a twin needle that works with your foot.

The lace was a little trickier, but I practiced piecing my laces together before I started on the dress. Using stitch in the ditch foot allows you to butt your laces or fabric together and get a nearly invisible join. The other key here is to use a fine needle and fine thread.

As you can see from the photos, I modified the pattern a bit. I changed the collar to a peter pan style. The pintucks and lace on the bodice and skirt are also my own design.  Because of the sheer, fine fabric I  French seamed the entire dress and slip. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t even think I could French seam the armscye until I tried it!


French seams everywhere!!

The gown turned out beautifully and Alexis and her family loved it. Hopefully it’s an heirloom for their family for years to come! More photos below.


A sweet little cap


Bodice back details


The simple slip

How to Hem Jeans

Hemming jeans sounded really complicated to me so I never tried it.  When I finally had to hem a pair of jeans I looked up some videos and found out its really easy and it looks really good! The key here is that you need to keep the original hem of the jean. Nothing looks more home sewn than a pair of jeans where the original hem was removed! I can spot that 20 feet away.

Looks good this close, looks even better fror 5 feet away.

Looks good this close, looks even better fror 5 feet away.

Step 1 – Determine how long you want your jeans by pinning up the hem. It can be good to have friend help with this so you aren’t constantly taking off your jeans to get a straight hem.  Measure the length you have pinned up. In this case I had pinned 2.5″ up meaning I would be removing that amount from the hem.

I totally forgot to take a photo of this before I started Step 2. Oops!

Step 2 – Divide the number you got in Step 1 (2.5″) by 2 = 1.25″.  With your jeans inside out fold up the hem – measuring that you have the length of fabric we just calculated between the inside edge of the hem and your fold.


Step 3 – Using a similar thread color to your jeans and an edge stitching foot, if you have one, sew as close to the in side edge of the hem as possible. If the hem is wider than the leg at the place your are stitching, gently stretch the fabric to ease the hem in. These jeans are flared and I had no issues doing this.

The needle is positioned right next to the hem. You don't want to sew on the hem, so an edge stitching foot is useful.

The needle is positioned right next to the hem. You don’t want to sew on the hem, so an edge stitching foot is useful. Also note that the length of fabric to the right of the needle is the 1.25″ calculated in Step 2.

Step 4 – This step is OPTIONAL for serger owners.  You may want to remove some of the fabric we are hemming up because it’s bulky.  To do this I use my serger leaving about 1/2″ of fabric to the right of the new hem seam.  If you think you may want to adjust this hem in the future do not do this. If I didn’t have a serger I would not attempt this with my regular machine.

Step 5 – Flip the hem inside and press well. Pull down on the hem as you press to get a neat seam line.


Step 6 – Secure the inside fabric by stitching in the ditch on your outside seam lines. Particularly if you skipped Step 4, this will prevent your excess fabric from falling down and being visible past your hem.

Look closely to see the lighter stitches to the right of the side seam. This securing the extra fabric.

Look closely to see the lighter stitches to the right of the side seam. This securing the extra fabric.

One warning – be prepared to press your hems every time you wash your jeans. One key to success is pressing your seams so the new seam line blends in with the original hemline. On freshly laundered jeans, the old hem tends to flip up along the new seam line.