“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. ~~~~~~
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.