A special heirloom dress


When I was a child, going to church every Sunday required gloves, a hat, polished shoes, a pretty dress, and a petticoat or slip. Nowadays little girls (where I live anyway) wear bluejeans and tee-shirts to church, except for Christmas, Easter, and First Holy Communion. So it’s quite fitting that yesterday and today, Good Friday, I am making a petti-slip to go under an heirloom Communion dress.

My client’s daughter will wear her paternal grandmother’s Schiffli-embroidered organza Communion dress, and although it has a petti-slip, the lace on the hem is torn, and the taffeta  is a bit sheer, and she would like a bit more pouf to the hem:


I make a lot of petticoats and slips, and people ask me all the time what the difference is:

  • Petticoat:  a full underskirt worn from the waist to knees
  • Slip: a slim dress-liner worn from shoulder to knees
  • Half-slip: the bottom half of a slip (top half would be a camisole)
  • Petti-slip: a combination of petticoat on bottom and camisole on top.


The first step in making a fresh new petti-slip for this darling dress was to choose the right color, since the dress fabric is very sheer.  I chose Kona “Snow” because it takes the dress a bit lighter….Kona “Bone” would go towards ecru, which would also be lovely for a vintage feel, but I felt that more off-white is better for this occasion:


The original slip fit well so I copied the bodice pattern.  I typically edge my camis with elastic so that they have some ease on the edges, even if it’s just the bias of wovens.  I dyed up some novelty elastic to match the fabric:


So here we are with the basic slip sewn up:



To add more “pouf” I added  a 2x-sweep flounce to match the silhouette of the dress:


… and stitched nylon “horsehair” braid into the seam allowance attaching the flounce:



You can see that it adds shape to the dress:


To make more pouf I added a layer of gathered bridal netting (finer than regular netting but more body than tulle):



The dress had lost its satin sash and mum asked for a replacement, however my basic satins only come in ivory and white, and neither worked well (again, in another situation I would have gone with the deep ivory):


But I have a vintage wedding gown, bought at a thrift shop, that I am cutting up for another project, and the color worked much better:



Time to cut up the wedding dress! I know, eeek!  Trust me though, it is a 1980’s style that no bride will wear today…..long leg-o-mutton sleeves, high-collar….the girls want strapless these days.


I was able to cut 3 true-bias strips at 7″ wide to make a sash…oh and mum asked for little satin bows for the sleeves:



I’ve fallen a bit in love with this heirloom dress while working on it, and I hope the little girl feels very special wearing it! And I hope that her grandmother is happy as well.



Happy Easter weekend!




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7 Responses to A special heirloom dress

  1. Ruth says:

    You did an amazing job! Oh….I just can’t put it into words!! Lovely…..

  2. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Thanks so much!

  3. Ann says:

    How wonderful to breathe new life into that beautiful heirloom dress. Wonderful work!

  4. Brooke says:

    Very Beautiful! Thank you for taking us through the process!

  5. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Thanks Brooke! It was such a sweet project, and best of all they received it back today and tried it on, and are good to go for this most special ceremony.

  6. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Thank you! Isn’t it lovely when families keep a special outfit in hopes that it will be worn again for a special occasion? I was honored to be a part of this connection between grandmother and granddaughter.

  7. Bunny says:

    Lovely update on this precious dress. Heirloom sewing is just awesome. I really like how you put the horsehair on the seams, great idea!

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