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Making christening gowns: how I made a dress for my daughter

For many religious families, a christening gown is a highly prized heirloom. From generation to generation, a family member passes it on to the next person who has a child and it will be baptized.

It seems that for parents, only a few items of clothing are precious during the first year of a child’s life. For example: the first outfit that has any kind of meaning is the hospital coming home outfit.

In all cultures of the world, there are traditions surrounding a baptism. However, it is mostly a well-understood idea to introduce the baby to her community: be it the church, a tribe, or even just her family.

The following is a story about a mother making her daughter a christening gown.

I wanted to do something for my oldest daughter that would be special for her whole life. Right before she was born, I decided to make her the dress that she would wear on her christening day.

The pattern that I came to know as “The Tree of Life” seemed appropriate to me since she would begin her spiritual life in the church that day. I bought a bunch of white yarn for typing, as well as a crochet book that gave me ways to make the lace confection she had planned. My husband bought me a tote bag as a gift so he could take my work in progress with him wherever he went. I remember it was a bright green and yellow bag, lying open at my feet every time I put it down wherever I went. She went everywhere with me.

So the next six saw me busy working on her dress. She knitted and knitted on the way to work, at home, family parties, and even to gatherings. During breaks at work, he would draw stitch after stitch. Coworkers and family members kept track of progress by measuring it. As the dress got bigger, I found myself explaining to strangers in coffee shops or passers-by in the park about the pattern I’d chosen.

I was halfway through the dress when I had my daughter, Cara. I brought her dress with me and when she was only three hours old, I measured it against her, checking her length. She came home with us and us for every excursion of our outings, including massage workshops for mom and me. The dress was turning into a labor that would never end. Each row took about two hours to complete.

The night before her christening I found myself putting the final touches on the dress. I placed a sparkling lace in front and weaved a light green bow through a centered piercing at the waist. Although the weather was warm, he looked like an angel in the dress he had made for her for so long. He didn’t want it to be, so he only wore it for two hours.

After the christening was over, the dress was never put away for safekeeping or passed around. No, it hung in her closet as a reminder of what it was for. She used it to play dress up when she was three years old. When she was four years old, Cara ella used it in preschool to play the role of princess. She has used it many times since then.

What started out as a whim for me eventually turned into a well-worn outfit. Am I mad that this happened? Not all. It was nice for me to do something for her on my own.

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