Tiger Lily's baptism dress

Tiger Lily was baptized in all white, but not in this dress. The church lends out jumpsuits to make things easier for people. It is not strictly necessary to have a white dress, but most of the little girls around here get one when they're baptized, as a tradition, and Tiger Lily has been looking forward to getting one for years.

I think I already told you that I tried out one pattern and the bodice wouldn't go over her head. I have ceased to be disappointed about that because take two turned out so much better in the end than the first one would have, even if it would have fit over her head. (But if you're dying to know, I was going to make this pattern in white eyelet, with sleeves and no collar.)

I've wanted to try sewing up the Oliver + S Garden Party Dress ever since it came out several years ago. I needed a pattern I could rely on to work and not be frustrating with my limited amount of time, and I knew that this would be the one.

I have sewn a few things from Oliver + S before, and I am incredibly impressed by the clarity of their instructions. I find the instructions in mainstream sewing patterns to be frustrating, but Oliver + S patterns are always crystal clear. I used to be a technical writer, so perhaps that is why I have extra appreciation for the excellent, clear instructions and illustrations.

On top of that, sewing one of their patterns is almost like taking a class. No detail is missed; the seams are all finished; and I always learn something new.

Tiger Lily's dress (take two) went together beautifully. I used fabric left over from the construction of my mother-in-law's wedding dress (that would be from over 35 years ago!) for the main part of the dress. It was some kind of silky synthetic, I think. I lined the whole thing with a white top sheet I had sitting around (it was mine, but the bottom sheet wore out). The overskirt is lace fabric, which my mother-in-law picked up for me on sale years ago. To top it all off, I used thread from the sewing supplies I inherited from my grandmother.

I had never lined a dress before, but I remembered reading about an underlining technique a long time ago, so I did it that way, because I was daunted by the thought of sewing a separate lining. I don't think a separate lining would have worked well in this dress in any case.

I cut all the pattern pieces out of the wedding dress fabric (size 8 with size 12 length), then I cut everything (except facings and sleeves) out of the lining, then I cut the skirt pieces out of the lace. That was a lot of cutting!

Then I basted the lining (and overlay) pieces to the dress pieces. That was a lot of basting! The front skirt piece is cut out along with the bodice, so I had to trim the lace down to the waist. I was worried about it, but it worked out beautifully.

I worried a little about the hemming, because the construction of the dress would not allow me to do separate hems for the three layers of skirt. I ended up basting the three layers together at the bottom (more basting!) and turned it up and hemmed it all together. It worked out just fine.

Gathering the bodice with two layers of fabric was a little more difficult than it would have been with one, but it worked just fine.

Things I learned:
  • Gathering with multiple rows of stitches works MUCH better and looks MUCH nicer than the hack I keep seeing on Pinterest where you zig-zag over a piece of yarn. 
  • Basting a line of stitches along a line where you want to iron something is much easier than measuring it as you iron.
  • How to make a thread chain button loop. This is actually the one thing on the dress I need to redo: I made my loop too long and it won't stay closed. But now that I've made one, I know that it will only take a few minutes to make another.
  • How to underline a garment. 
And, just for fun, here is a picture of the last time Tiger Lily wore a white dress—for her baby blessing (I didn't make this one). Next up: her wedding! (But not for a very, very long time!)


  1. It's so beautiful, especially made from heirloom fabrics. I love baptisms for some reason.

  2. I like this dress because it is both simple and elegant, it has history, and it lets your little girl shine through. Too-fancy dresses dominate little girls until the girls themselves are hidden away. This dress is just right.

    What a lovely gift you've given her!!!

  3. When I decided to get baptized at Lakewood, I put a video of it on YouTube. I believed my baptism in infancy was invalid. Because of that, a lot of baptism videos were suggested to me on the side bar. They were all different and all beautiful. One of them, however, was a little girl about 8-10 years old who was afraid to get dunked. As the preacher dunked her, she'd grab on to the sides of the basins and force herself up. You could hear people encouraging her in the background that the pastor would hold her the whole time, but they ended up not going through with it. My first worry was that she'd be punished once they got home or that she'd be believed to be "possessed"