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!