Early gowns were quite tiny as infants were christened very early in life, often at a week old. Mainly white fine cotton lawn was used although well off families chose silk, which perished over time. 'One-size-fitted-all', with cleverly fitted adjustable draw-string ties at the neck and waist. Minute pin-tuck pleats attached a bodice to the long full skirt. Robing of lace echoed an earlier fashion for an over dress, revealing a richly embroidered underskirt. Fine stitching was worked on the bodice with lace or pin tucking forming a V which matched the inverted V formed by the robing with embroidery on the bodice echoing the design on the skirt.
Linda explained how Ayrshire white work embroidery became popular about 1840 and beautifully worked panels for the bodice and front were commissioned for high status robes. As fashions changed, broderie anglaise, lace and pin tucking came in to favour and were hand worked until the introduction of sewing machines in 1880’s.
Living and sewing in Lincolnshire, Linda is a christening gown designer who sells bespoke hand embroidered and reproduction gowns, most recently three of her gowns were featured in the BBC series "The Paradise" She also repairs and restores family gowns and has some original gowns for sale.
For a more detailed look Linda's website http://www.littledoves.co.uk/ is filled with examples of her christening gowns, rompers and accessories.
Judy O'Neill and Mary Paulger