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Home > Choosing a Christening Gown
Choosing a Christening Gown

Choosing a Christening Gown

Choosing a christening gown is always a memorable choice. A christening is an once-in-a-lifetime occasion for a baby. Within families, the gown can be a continuation of a tradition or the beginning of a new one. The choice will be partly based on individual taste. Yet this special selection is also influenced by several determining factors.

Religion
Most Christian denominations have a baptism or dedication ceremony. The christening dress may vary according to one's faith. Considering the symbolism of the christening gown, the requirements of one's religion must be given priority. Some religions insist that the christening dress must be a shade of white. Other churches allow cream and even pastels for the gowns. Pale peach, mint green, and baby pink are acceptable for many ceremonies.

Culture
Certain cultures use a hint of their heritage in their christening gowns. There are special Irish and Italian christening dresses. Celtic gowns can be made of Irish linen or cotton. They may use Cluney lace and gold trim for decoration. The dresses will have Irish motifs such as shamrocks, Celtic crosses, or the claddagh. For an Irish Communion, boys may have crosses or Celtic knots on their chest. Girls may have more elaborate embroidery on the bottom part of their dresses.

Boys And Girls
There are various styles for boys and girls. Traditionally, boys and girls wore christening gowns. If you are following that tradition, you can choose a more simple, casual style for a boy's gown and bonnet/hat. Unisex gowns are also in the marketplace.

Modern families often choose a boys' romper or suit rather than the traditional gown. There are even convertible gowns for boys. These outfits are baby suits with a detachable skirt. They can be a gown one moment, and a romper, the next minute.

Christening Gown/Christening Dress
'Christening gown/christening dress' -  there is no need for confusion. The terms are used in an interchangeable manner. 'Christening gown' is used more often to describe the traditional style. A christening gown is usually 28"-36" in length. A christening dress is shorter than to the tip of the toes but still can be fairly long - even to mid-calf. The shorter style is used frequently for an older child. Everybody that goes through a christening isn't a newborn baby. A short style is easier to handle - especially for post-ceremony.

Budget
Know your budget before shopping. There are countless styles to suit any budget - from designer gowns to lower priced gowns. Some of the best deals can be found from online retailers. Online retailers also offer convenient  and stress-free shopping. You will also find christening gowns in specialty shops and department stores. There are various types and sizes - including for preemies.

Wherever you shop for the gown, give yourself lots of time. Shop locally or order online at least four weeks before the christening. If you order online, you will receive your order in prompt fashion. Yet it is better to order early and avoid stress in the days leading up to the christening.

Types
Whatever the type of gown, remember to clean it properly after use. If preserving the gown, contact a specialist or purchase a chemical-free, muslin preservation bag.

Traditional
The traditional christening gown is a more formal type. Traditional dresses are usually fashioned from silk, satin, or organza. They are usually long gowns (cathedral length) and have delicate details such as fine lace, embroidery, and appliqués.

If you are planning to pass down the gown as a heirloom, choose a traditional style. It will continue to look classic for many years. Choosing a unisex style or one with detachable ribbons and bows is also a sensible choice. Boys or girls can use the outfit in the future.

Modern
Modern christening gowns are often made from cotton or satin. There are very modern outfits for boys including textured vests as well as a tuxedo-style outfit.

Casual
Casual christening gowns are simple, elegant choices. These gowns have clean, crisp lines. They are usually shorter than formal dresses. The casual gowns are made from a mix of satin, tulle, and organza. These dresses can have some detailing and simple smocking.

Styles

Heirloom Gowns
Heirloom gowns refer to gowns which have been passed down to you or heirloom-style dresses (high quality). They are mostly made of natural fibers and have delicate details such as eyelets and embroidery.

Customized Gowns
Customized gowns allow you to make a 'special' gown for your child. Some companies offer personalization services whereby you can embroider a child's name on a dress. Christening gowns are also available with detachable bows, sashes, and trains. These dresses give you the option to add or remove features. One unisex style even has a removable cummerbund.

Shantung Gowns
Shantung is created from a weave of silk or synthetic fibers. Shantung has a slubbed appearance. Since shantung drapes easily, it is a perfect fabric for a christening gown.

A 'Touch Of Color' Gowns
A 'touch of color' is showing up in an increasing number of christening gowns. A soft blue ribbon may fall down the front of a gown. A delicate flower with streamers can fall from the waist. Baby pink ribbon can adorn the hem or sleeves.

Fabric
Choose fabrics that breathe easily to ensure maximum comfort.
Traditionally, classic fabrics - cotton, raw silk, linen - are used in the making of christening gowns.
Heirloom Batiste or Swiss Pima Batiste cotton can be used in the gowns.
Satin, organza, taffeta, and tricot are also popular for christening gowns.
Gabardine is often used for boys' christening outfits.
Various types of cotton are used in christening gowns.

- Baptiste cotton is perfect for a gown. It is an extremely, light fabric
.
- Sateen feels like silk and is smooth on one side and matte on the other.

- Broadcloth works well for holding details like creases and beading.

- Cotton interlock is a stretchy, lightweight, double knit.

- Bubble gauze is plain cotton.

- Polyster blends are also popular with customers.

Color
Most christening gowns are white or ivory. White is used as a symbol of  innocence and purity. Yet modern christening dresses are also available in additional colors. Sometimes today's dresses may get a special touch of color. Even traditional Irish christening gowns are using a hint of color. A shamrock can have a bit of  green. A Celtic cross could be a little blue.

Detailing
Pay attention to the practical details. Are buttons sewn on in a proper manner?
Does the detailing match the dress? Bright white lace will not suit a silk dress.
There are various shades of white. Silk, however, is an off-white.
Brilliant white accessories can not be used with heirloom dresses.
Discover more about the shades of white - White Is White, Right?
Lovely details can include lace, embroidery, ribbons, bows, and floral appliqués.
Satin ribbons and sequined collars are special touches.
Boys' christening outfits can have bow ties and pin tucks.

Fit
The proper fit is important for a christening dress. A baby must be able to move freely in the outfit. A soft fabric should always be used for a christening gown. A baby's skin is sensitive so material shouldn't tear skin or cause a baby to be in an itchy, uncomfortable state.

If you can't bring your baby into a specialty store or if you are buying online, you must take proper measurements to ensure a proper fit. Sizing charts will let you match your baby's measurements to a size.

Climate
If you are in a warm climate, you don't want your baby to get overheated in the church. If the climate is cool, you want to ensure your baby's warmth. Short sleeves and light fabrics like cotton or silk are best suited for hot weather. Long sleeves are best for late autumn and winter. The skirt should be roomy enough to allow air to circulate around the baby.

Babies shouldn't be sweating in heavy satin. A fussy baby isn't a happy baby. Satin is, however, a perfect fabric for a cold day. Long sleeves are best for cold periods. In a cool climate, the baby may need a bonnet/hat, jacket, sweater, or baptismal blanket. Such lovely accessories can have intricate details such as rosettes and lace or embroidered crosses.

These items can also be personalized for your baby with the name and date of the christening. If you plan to preserve the gown/accessories or pass them on to other children, be careful about monogramming. Opt for just using the last initial so that it will suit any family member - even well into the future.

Elegant Gowns
A christening gown can be pure white silk with a tulle overlay or an ivory gown with Austrian embroidery. It can be a white or cream smocked voile dress. Maybe you might prefer an Edwardian-style gown. During this period, some gowns had three embroidered panels up the front of the dress with lace around the sides and back.

A gown can be woven with pale blue ribbons or have vintage-style buttons. A short-sleeve cotton gown with flower buds, appliqués, and ribbons looks like a vintage dress. A 2-piece white crystal organza and tulle gown with a detachable train makes a terrific christening gown. A shantung yolk dress can have exquisite embroidery, sequin, and beading details.

Couture Gowns
If  a couture style fits your budget, you can have an one-of-a-kind gown for your baby. If couture is your choice, then arrange the details well ahead of the date. Couture styles take time to bring to completion. When you choose a couture style, you can design it to your specifications. You can select the fine fabrics and intricate details. Some couture designers will even create a dress based on an old family photo. If you don't want a full 'couture' style, consider monogramming for your child's gown. With couture design, you can even have a Victorian-style christening dress. If you want an Irish communion, you can request a custom dress. The Celtic gowns are often made of Irish linen from Ulster, Ireland.

Couture fashion can take many forms. The yoke of a dress can be round, square, or pointed fashion. It can have accents such as lace, ruffles, ribbon, and beading. The skirts and bodices are always in fine fabrics and have extraordinary embellishments. The sleeves can be long or short but shorter is recommended for summer. The sleeves can have turned-up cuffs, fabric band cuffs with lace edging, or puff sleeves gathered onto a lace ruffle. Rows of banding are often added at the hem of a gown.

Made With Love
If you are really talented with a needle and thread, you can sew a christening gown. Sometimes in the past, mothers have crocheted the dresses.

Accessories
The special baby can wear coordinating christening shoes made from the same fabric as the gown. Christening shoes are usually white or off-white. For girls, there are organza or satin shoes. For boys, you can find gabardine or cotton sateen shoes.

Religious symbols, such as a cross, are often embroidered on the soles of the shoes. For an Irish Communion, the shoes have a shamrock on the sole. Dressy christening socks should match the color of the girl's gown or boy's outfit. They can be decorated with lace or may have an religious symbol. Don't forget stylish slips for girls and beautiful bibs to protect that special gown.

A crocheted Baptismal towel might have embroidered lettering and a cross. Christening bracelets can be sterling silver with pearls (sometimes pink). There may be a cross charm with the bracelet. Baby bonnets with religious symbols can be worn for the ceremony. Bonnets/hats are often purchased with the christening gown. You can also choose a wreath of flowers or simple headband.

If deciding between an elaborate design and a simple style for the christening gown, seriously consider the middle ground. Indeed, look closely at the simple, elegant gown before you reject it. If you need an intricate style to be true to your culture, follow your traditions. Just remember that the true meaning of Baptism isn't about Baptiste cotton or Cluney lace. A christening should focus on the baptism or dedication.

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