The Christina Christening Gown

A note from Ed Roux, author of a series on heirloom sewing techniques for WeAllSew:

In this first of a series of WeAllSew and Through The Needle ONLINE articles, I would like to introduce you to the Christina Christening Gown. The Christina is a gown I designed and planned over many years using selected embroidery designs from Martha Pullen’s Heirloom, Heirloom Alphabet, Vintage Baby collections and DAR Museum Disc 1, as well as the BERNINA artista bow.

"Christina" by Ed Roux @sewing
artista bow @sewing

In future WeAllSew and Through The Needle ONLINE articles, I invite you to join me as I revisit my personal evolving process of creating the Christina through step-by-step instructions and detailed pictures. While many of the basic heirloom techniques may be a review for many sewers, I hope to break them down in a fashion that even a novice would not feel intimidated to try. In addition, I would like to offer a few new techniques that I created myself that have helped me streamline heirloom sewing by using a variety of BERNINA presser feet and accessories.

"Christina" heirloom sewing @sewing

For this project, I was fortunate to construct the Christina using the BERNINA 830 Limited Edition sewing system. However, most of the techniques I demonstrate can be adapted to be used on any BERNINA sewing machine or system with similar results.

"Christina" by Ed Roux @sewing

While not in any particular order, some of the techniques I plan to discuss include

  • Selecting proper materials and tools for project.
Heirloom sewing supplies
Presser feet and stitch plates
  • Taking a pen to batiste fabric to mark the shapes for the lace shaped stylized diamond scallops and then easily attaching French lace to these marked shapes without pinning.
"Christina" heirloom sewing @sewing
  • Leveraging the precision of the BERNINA Cut ‘N Sew Attachment #80 and Foot #90 to attach entredeux, fancy entredeux and entredeux beading to flat or gathered fabric, Swiss insertion and French lace in one quick step.
Attaching entredeux @sewing
Attaching entredeux
  • Demonstrating how to repeat and organize objects of a single endless motif to maximize the stitch area of the Mega Hoop with BERNINA Embroidery Software 6 Designer and how to use the BERNINA 830 Endless Embroidery feature to expertly stitch out this design for nine yards of batiste edging.
Embroidered edging @sewing
  • Using BERNINA Embroidery Software 6 Designer to modify stitch density and stitch type of embroidery motifs for delicate fine fabrics.
Embroidery on batiste @sewing
  • Selecting proper stabilizers/backings and hooping techniques to stitch on batiste, organza and other fine fabrics.
Embroidery on fine fabrics @sewing
  • Mastering the 3mm Zig Zag Hemmer Foot #63 to stage beautifully finished corded edged panels for joining with a delicate fagoting stitch using the BERNINA Spanish Hemstitch Attachment#47.
Corded edges and Spanish hemstitching @sewing
  • Employing BERNINA Embroidery Software 6 Designer to design one embroidery file to stitch evenly-spaced buttonholes.
Heirloom buttonholes @sewing
  • Using the #88 Binder Attachment and #95C Foot to easily insert a skirt placket.
Bound skirt placket @sewing

The double-layered organza/batiste bodice was pleated and finished by hand. I have machine smocked pleated bodices with 9mm stitches and embroidery motifs in other heirloom garments I have done in the past. However, for Christina, I wanted it to be special and so I back smocked the bodice by hand with 2,750 cable stitches and hand stitched the front of the bodice with silk ribbon, embroidery and glass beading.

Smocked and embroidered bodice @sewing
Smocked and embroidered bodice @sewing

To learn more about the story behind the Christina and the techniques used to construct it, I hope you will join me in future articles in WeAllSew and Through the Needle ONLINE.


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5 comments on “The Christina Christening Gown”

  • Ed’s attention to detail is legendary and his embroidery work and all his other items like quilting are also par excellence! You well deserve to be mentioned on WeAllSew.

  • Amazing job. Any tips for using fine weight thread on the 830? My 830 does not like it at all. I am getting skipped stitches & the upper thread keeps breaking. I tried using the thread condirioner, that isn’t helping.

    • Ed is an amazing seamster! Your BERNINA Dealer can help you with your questions about sewing with delicate threads. Take in your thread and project so they can see exactly what you’re working with. One thing I’ve found helpful is to make sure there aren’t any stray threads or “lint balls” in or around the bobbin basket. Hope that helps! Jo

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