Thursday, December 4, 2008

Early origins of the christening gowns

New York City.Photographer:Cappelen, 240 Columbia St. Brooklyn.
Before the seventeenth century there were no christening gowns as we know them today. Infants were christened whilst wrapped tightly in a “bearing cloth”. This was a large square piece of silk, decorated with intricate braid trimmings and precious gold lace.
In the mid-eighteenth century children were dressed in a less restricted manner, so the christening outfits followed suit. The robes were made of white silk and had a front opening panel that could either be fastened with silk ribbons, or left open, revealing a petticoat. These were embellished with the decorative scalloped lines of braid also seen on women’s dresses.
The first christening gowns were made in similar designs to clothing worn by children at the time. They were like petticoats with long elegant skirts flowing from a short, tucked bodice. Low necklines and short sleeves were a very common feature of these gowns. A variety of accessories were also available for christenings in the eighteenth century. Bonnets, booties, bibs, headbands, mittens and embroidered handkerchiefs are among the magnitude of possible accessories.
The unique Victorian style dresses of the time were decorated with a help of a delicate white-on-white embroidery technique originally found in Scotland.
Over the years, the families’ passing gowns on to each new generation became traditional family keepsakes.Each of the child’s names have been hand-embroidered on the slip, keeping a family record.

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