Living The Sweet Life: Grandma Irene Justice Gown

Friday, September 4, 2009

Grandma Irene Justice Gown

I showed you Grandpa Clive Justice's fancy silk christening gown in August (Post "Family Heirloom") and the story of how Grandma and Grandpa raised five boys on a turkey farm on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. They were perfectly happy and in love, but did come from different worlds growing up.  What a love story!  When Grandma gave me Grandpa's beautiful silk christening gown, she also gave me her gown.  What a stark difference.  We could call Grandpa's "ruffles and flourishes" and Grandma's "sweet and simple". Even though Grandma's family couldn't afford silk with all the trimmings she was christened in her simple little gown that was lovely.  I love her gown because of the care and love that went into it.  When I teach Heirloom Sewing Classes  I show both  of these gowns to show my ladies that you buy the best fabric and lace you can afford and go from there.  You don't have to have the best fabric and yards and yards of lace.  I've seen christening gowns made out of fabric that was as rough as feed sacks with lace that had been recycled from petticoats.  So as humble as it may be, this Grandma's gown and I love it just as much as Grandpa's.

"Sweet and Simple"

The tiny piece of French cotton insterion lace on each shoulder.

More French cotton insertion lace around the cuff of each sleeve.

Traditionally mother of pearl buttons are used on the back. 
And here we have two mother of pearl buttons with hand stitched button holes.
 The dress is gathered onto twill tape ties that close the back.

This is the hemline of the dress, two rows of the matching French cotton lace used on  the sleeve and shoulder.  Notice the use of folded tucks, they don't cost more, and look lovely.

So the dress is made of cotton, with matching French lace throughout and mother of pearl buttons. 
All the elements that make a true heirloom. 
Just knowing the Gramma was christened in this gown makes it priceless.


  1. Deborah,

    I would love to know more about this lovely Christening gown. What year do you think this was made? I tried making the pictures larger, but they get a bit blurry when I do that. Is it hand or machine stitched? What type of fabric is this gown made from?

    What a lovely treasure to have these gowns. Grandpa's gown is very beautiful,too!

    My family Christening gown appears to be much older than I originally thought it was. It has the markings of being from about the 1860's. :)

    Thanks for sharing your treasures,


  2. Hi Carol

    I was made about 1909, using grandmas age etc. It's machine stitched with the exception of the button holes. I might add that none of the inside edges are finished and the machine's tension was off, so it's an odd stitch throughout. The fabric is not a batiste, it's just too rough and thick - here again cost comes into play. It might have been made from some fabric that was part of a stache and used for this little gown.

    Wow, your gown sounds great, they're so special to have aren't they? My mom gave me about 12 gowns in a bag the other day, so keep your eyes peeled, I'm going to go through them one and by and put them on the blog.

    Thanks for checking out the blog.