Finished Christening Gown for Baby Shrek!

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted what I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

After earlier disappointments, people around the world prayed for this baby during the difficult pregnancy.  God hears all prayers and answered with the safe delivery of this precious baby into the arms of his loving family.

So here are the details of the renewed heirloom gown Baby Shrek wore for his baptism. ~~~~~~

Photo taken between rain and wind gusts from tropical storm Hermine.

photo taken between rain and wind gusts from tropical storm Hermine.


It’s been so long since my last post that faithful readers probably think I have dropped off the face of the earth.  A more accurate explanation of my absence is that I’ve been buried deep in my sewing room.  Sooooo much has been going on, the highlight being the completion of this gown for Baby Shrek and spending some time with him.  Details of a weekend with 4 rabid embroidery enthusiasts, ages 3.5-9, nearly a week of sewing with our two older grandchildren before they moved to New Jersey, and more will be posted later.


Little Shrek on my dining room table

Little Shrek on my dining room table. His adoring grandmother is captured in the mirror wearing a white blouse.


First let me answer a the question many have asked about why he is called Baby Shrek.  His parents very graciously gave me permission to use any photos of him, but asked that I not use his name.  So the hasty endearment from his maternal grandmother, “beautiful Baby Shrek,” is used in place of his very lengthy, good Christian name.

These pictures are not great, but he had passed up his noon nursing due to the distraction of my two dogs and his watchful, attentive fan club.  Then when he was dressed for the photos, he was good-natured, but very actively squirmed and flapped his little arms as he pleaded for his dinner.




"Do you understand? I'm HUNGRY!"

“Do you hear me? I’m HUNGRY!”


It is obvious from his chubby cheeks and arms that he misses few meals.




We were so eager to wrap up  this little photo shoot that we did not even notice that the mirror captured the photographer–me–and his mother. I love this young lady and have since I met her when she was four years old.

Let me explain why this project was such a challenge.  An earlier post detailed the fact that his family’s 100 year old heirloom gown of Swiss goods was sized for a 3 month old baby.  Each baby who came into this large Finnish family has worn this gown as a newborn, including his mother and grandmother.  Shrek was 10 months and 28 pounds when he was baptized.  His parents left New Zealand to  journey first to France to visit his father’s family.  From there  they flew to central Florida to his mother’s childhood home for his christening.  So Plan B was needed for the family gown.

The lovely half slip in the heirloom set was all that could be used, and even that required modification.  A new 23″ waistband replaced the original 20″ band.  As I said, this boy is robust!

6 tucks and beautiful Swiss embroidered edging on 35" slip

6 tucks and beautiful Swiss embroidered edging trim the 35″ slip


A shirt was made with a wide Swiss edging to cover the waist band.  Buttons sewn to a band joined to the shirt under the edging.  Buttonholes in the waistband held the skirt to the shirt.




The skirt was quite heavy, requiring sizable buttons which, regrettably projected into the Swiss edging.  Another disappointment was that the creamy color of  antique mother of pearl buttons showed through the white Swiss.  Oh, well.


His mother liked my suggestion that a bit of pale blue be included.

His mother liked suggestion that a bit of pale blue be included. At first I planned to use it only on the somewhat intricate and tiny cross.A mere .90 x 1.28″, I’ve used this machine embroidery design on  a number of items.  It is on an old Brother card, #20, and is also available at here.


The machine embroidered blue cross and all construction was done on my Brother Dream Machine, a real dream for heirloom sewing.  In addition to the cross, matching blue floss was buttonhole stitched through the entredeux at the neck and sleeve edges. It also was laced through the entredeux holes in the Swiss embroideries.

TIP: It takes a lot of floss to work the buttonhole stitch through entredeux,  After a few annoying shortages, my measurements and calculations showed that it takes 3 times the length plus about 15%  more.  Of course, the holes through which you are stitching–entredeux or Swiss trim–must be large enough to allow the floss to flow through easily.  Otherwise, it will be worn out before you finish.



After so many earlier disappointing attempts at feather stitching, I was finally satisfied with the fine tatting cotton hand stitches on the sleeves and bodice.

Another tip: On someone’s recommendation (I think Jeannie B.)  I  used a large (#90 or 100) needle to machine stitch the feather without thread on the heavily starched fabric.  What a relief to finally have nice feather stitches!  I also learned that in our humid Florida climate, it is best to machine stitch one row, then fill the wholes with stitches before the holes sag closed.

Knowing that a 10 month old baby would not be happy very long with the crawling restrictions imposed by that 35″ long skirt, I  recalled a breathtaking gown made by master stitcher Carol Ahles for her grandson.  An article with the details was included in an old Creative Needle magazine (OH, how I miss that mag!).  It was actually a button-on suit with a skirt over the shorts.


button on shorts under the skirt

Shrek’s button on shorts under the skirt


The buttonholes on the shorts, of course, matched up to those on the skirt.  So the sturdy buttons on the shirt held the three pieces together.




Just look at those well-fed thighs!

standing with help--walking soon!

standing with Mama’s help–walking soon!


Thanks to Carol’s creative design, as soon as the church service was over and all the family festivities began, the skirt was removed.   Baby Shrek was comfortable and free to crawl in his shorts.



Here he has just been dressed before the service and is being held by his loving, attentive, hands-on father. This baby is blessed with wonderful parents.



It was a beautiful service.  Baby Shrek’s great uncle, a Lutheran pastor, officiated at the christening.  “Borning Cry” was sung, a hymn I had never heard.  Now I treasure those reassuring words.  The opening lines are:

“I was there to hear your borning cry,
I’ll be there when you are old.
I rejoiced the day you were baptized,
to see your life unfold.”*

For the gown, there are several things I would have redone if there had been time.  I would like to have changed out the wide Swiss edge at the hem of the shirt with another piece.

It should have been slightly gathered to accommodate the bulk of the skirt and shorts below.  But baby’s mother loved the piece, of which there was no more, and preferred that it be left as it was.  I also wish I could have replaced  the ivory buttons with white.

And I wish I had had more time to spend with this precious baby boy.  He is back at home in New Zealand now.  It will be at least a year before his family makes the grueling trip across the pond for another visit.  I sigh, along with his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others.  And I try to imagine just how precious he will be as a nearly two year-old toddler.  May God continue to bless you, Baby Shrek.

28 responses to “Finished Christening Gown for Baby Shrek!

  1. Such a wonderful post. Love the pictures and such sweet baby. Wonderful gown, etc. I am just wow’d by his good nature during the photo shoot. Great job.

  2. You did an absolutely beautiful job with this gown, Janice! Your love for this child and his family is in every stitch and in every word of this post. I am sure it will be treasured forever. The shorts beneath the skirt was the perfect solution to meet the needs of a strong healthy and happy baby. Well done!

  3. Thank you, Beckie. This baby smiles all the time. He is a reflection of the love and attention that has been showered upon him. He is indeed a blessing to all. His maternal grandparents have longed for a grandchild and now they have this precious little guy to give their love to.

  4. Thank you, Karen, for all your sweet words. I do so love this baby and was so happy to be able to make a part of the family gown work for his baptism. I was also grateful to Carol Ahles’ for her inspiration to add shorts. He continued to smile for all the family festivities after the church service.

  5. from Martha Pullen forum: What a perfectly wonderful project…and the results are incredible. The dress is simply beautiful and your creative details make it even more special. I know how much your work and creativity were appreciated. “Shrek” is adorable and seems to be such an happy baby!! I’d love to give him big hugs!

  6. My Dear Janice,
    Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for the love and dedication and skill and creativity you put into the Christening gown for our Baby Shrek.
    Janice, your love and friendship were felt throughout the gown, and shall not be forgotten. This was a special day in all of our lives, and your gown made it all the more so.

  7. from Martha Pullen forum: You did an amazing job on this beautiful gown for such a sweet baby!! I especially like how you share your challenges and the fixes you came up with!!

  8. from Martha Pullen forum: Just wonderful! What a cute baby! Great inspiration on the outfit as usual.

  9. from Martha Pullen forum: OK not the biggest baby I have ever heard of baptized… many years ago I made a Russian Orthodox baptism gown for a 2 year old boy… of course baptism gowns do not run to size 2… plus the priest had specific instructions – gown had to button down the front for access to anoint the chest blah blah –
    Beautiful story… real dedication to family trip to France trip to Florida who does that for baby visits these days… usually it is incumbent on the grand parent to make the trek… Shrek is nickname right????
    I thought that I was the only one who fretted over things like shudda used the white button instead of ivory ….. why do we torture ourselves when the confections we create go to parents or people who could barely sew a button on correctly – they don’t even know there is a correct way…

  10. from Martha Pullen forum: Wonderful transformation of family heirloom to fit this precious little (big) one! Thank you for sharing the very sweet back story!

  11. Aw, shucks, Susanna. Anyone would have jumped at the opportunity to stitch something for that sweet baby boy! I’m glad it pleased you and the rest of the family. Thank you for including me in all the festivities. It was a blessing.

  12. from Sewforum: NEW ZEALAND !! WOW..! The gown is so beautiful – as are all your creations – and this wee baby is stunning. What a trip though – my home land (NZ) to France, Florida, and then all the excitement and of meeting more family all over the world. This baby must be so loved and so treasured…. just like the precious gown you have created!! Congratulations to all !!! 😀
    A proud wife, mother and New Zealander.

  13. from SewForum: your gown is awesome I never would have the patience for that .it fits so well to. the baby is adorable

  14. Such a wonderful creation! So happy for all of you with the blessing of this beautiful boy! Robust he is!!

  15. Thanks, Alicia. He has brought so much happiness in his young life.

  16. I always new you were miraculous with a sewing machine and this alteration proves it!

  17. Rheeta, you are too kind!

  18. Janice, you did a beautiful job with the gown and Baby Shrek is adorable. You always do a beautiful job with all your projects. And I love the wonderful details you write about how you created the gown and shorts for him.

  19. Thanks, Betty. You are always so encouraaging. I was so grateful to Carol Ahles for her idea of the button-on shorts under the dress. It was just good luck for me that the heirloom family gown had a half slep, ready and waiting to go over the shorts.

  20. What a beautiful baby and christening gown. The heirloom gown makes the event even more meaningful. You did a wonderful job combining the old with the new…as always!

  21. from Martha Pullen forum: Splendid! What a heart-warming story. The gown/shorts is perfect!

  22. from Martha Pullen forum: Baby Shrek is adorable! I LOVE the baptism outfit. Wonderful way to work old and new together.

  23. from Martha Pullen forum: What a nice story and you did an amazing job!! The gown and accessories are gorgeous! You had really good ideas. Love the touch of blue.Thanks for sharing the process. Very interesting and fun. Lovely lovely job!

  24. from Martha Pullen forum: Janice just scrolled down and saw the Christening gown. Fantastic work. And he IS SO cute. The details in the gown are perfect.

  25. Dear Janice,

    I so enjoyed the babies Christening gown You, my friend are soooooo Clever!
    I am glad your magic mirror was working in the background–just showed the love at your house! You are a Blessing!

  26. Sweet. sweet Judy! I’m so sorry you missed all the festivities. You were missed! I hope you hubby is much better now.

  27. Dear Janice,

    Thank you for all your labors and devotion to this unique project.
    An heirloom gown it definitely is, and one that will go down in family history.

  28. Susanna, you know it was a joy for me, from start to seeing him wear it. This baby has brought immeasurable joy!

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