V269: A Baby Neckerchief from a Baby Gown

I’m a sucker for fancy embroideries, but I just plain suck at doing them myself, so I look for textiles that already have nice embroideries on them.  A tantalizing source is old baby baptism gowns.  Some are plain, but some are quite beautifully whiteworked.  I wanted to see if I could make an 18th century neckerchief out of one, so here goes…

Good places to find baptism gowns are at flea markets, antique shops, or thrift stores.  I got mine for about $15, and it wasn’t the largest on the rack, but had the nicest embroidery.  I would highly recommend trying to find the largest you can…we’re talkin’ big babies here…you have to get enough yardage to cut on the bias.

I cut open the one back seam, cut off the collar and sleeves, and laid the yardage (if you can call it that) out flat.  I wanted the embroidered edge as the point on my neckerchief, so that meant a mitered corner.  I used a gridded cutting board with bias lines (WalMart, JoAnns, Hancock) to mark out two triangles exactly the same size, on the same bias – this is why you need as much yardage as you can get.

From “18th Century Embroidery Techniques”

Then it was just up to finishing the edges.  The seam up the back is felled, the rest are just tiny-turned.  I used the pattern in 18th Century Embroidery Techniques showing a slice in the middle of the long edge.  It allows that long edge against the neck to “break” and lay more comfortably.

Teeny Tiny … looks kindof like a napkin draped over the shoulders.  Maybe I will just use a napkin next time…

In the end, my neckerchief is pretty, but it’s TINY.  I wish I had found a larger baby gown now, but lesson learned!


  • Unknown

    September 25, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    it is tiney but maybe you can join another fabric to it to make it larger using the ladder stitch… there is a very easy way of connecting to larger pieces fo fabric using that and a machiene and you cannot tell that it was not hand done

  • ZipZip

    September 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    Dear Lauren,
    Good call! A few years ago I was given a badly damaged — scorched and torn — baby dress and made a pretty neckerchief out of it in pretty much the same fashion. It worked just fine and remains a favorite. I haven't the heart to cut up baby dresses that are in really good condition, but a messed-up one? Happy to give it new life so someone doesn't toss it.

    Very best,


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