The greatest challenge ever presented to Little Doves is when Lord Compton contacted us to see if we could restore the family christening gown and repair all holes as well as cleaning the fragile silk satin and silk tulle. Because the gown was so fragile Little Doves was also commissioned to create two reproduction gowns, one for the immediate family to use and one for the wider family to use.
Linda agreed to undertake this commission even though time was really tight. She was given only a month to create the first reproduction ready for a family baptism.
The original gown arrived in a very bad condition. Once a lovely ivory silk satin the gown was now dark brown in colour and the silk tulle was badly torn and worn out. The seams were coming away and the satin had shredded in many places. But even through all the damage, it was evident that there was a truly beautiful gown hiding underneath. The applique lace on the silk tulle was exquisite and showed great workmanship.
Ok, the first thing for the reproduction was to source the fabric. Heading to the Silk Society in London with small sections of the original gown, we soon found some beautiful silk satin in ivory. Another visit to the Silk Route allowed us to purchase some very fine silk tulle. And, finally from our good friends at cottonlace.com in Holland we purchased the most delicate cotton lace to be appliqued on the tulle.
First, a pattern was taken from the original christening under gown and from that the new satin undergown was created. This was easy work and did not take too long to create. Next, the delicate work began, slowly appliqueing the lace to the hemline of the silk tulle to make a beautiful flowered edged border to the overskirt. This was laborious work taking about 60 hours to complete. Linda used exactly the same techniques that was used on the wedding gown for the Duchess of Cambridge and was stitching this lace at the same time as well! Once the tulle had the lace applique the rest of the lace was carefully cut away leaving this lovely edging. The overskirt was then created. Finally, the bodice was made from lace panels and attached to the skirt. Sleeves were added and to add a final flourish the large bow was created. All in all, this was a lovely challenge, much appreciated by the family and a wonderful honour to create this gown to be used by the family for the next hundred years.