A Baptismal Dress for Lily

Sunshine leans across my arm, bouncing in the chair. I grit my teeth, focusing on the fabric bunching under the sewing machine needle, hoping I’m catching all the gathers in the sleeve. A phrase from a song drifts into my head and I mentally rewrite the lyrics to fit this situation: “It was an itsy bitsy teeny tiny white satin dress she sewed…” Sleeves are horrendous, I think, and wish for the hundredth time that my mom was here to help.

I am a passable seamstress; while I was at home, I sewed most of my own clothes. My mother is an artist with fabric. I lack her passion for it, her pure enjoyment of the process, her precision and perfection. She sewed both of my grad dresses and my wedding dress. Fancy, finicky fabrics—those are her forte, not mine. I only took scissors and sewing machine to this satin becasue I am just making a baby dress (which should be small and easy).


My ears are tuned for Lily’s wail as I clip threads and pin the next sleeve onto the dress. It’s been hard to sew with a baby. I got part of the dress cut out on Saturday while she napped; part of it on Monday night while she slept; and on Wednesday I asked my mother-in-law to come watch the girls so I could sew. Now, after three attempts to get Lily down in her cradle, I am trying to get the last parts done: sleeves and buttons.


photo: A Baptismal Dress The white satin and chiffon are leftover from my wedding dress. It’s beautiful. But as I struggle to get the fabric lined up, I think of my mom. Of how she’d know that fancy stitch to put around the hem so the stitches don’t show. How she wouldn’t have to topstitch to make the lining sit right. And how the lining would match up at the bottom, if she were sewing this dress.

It looks perfect as I hold it up to admire it. Only I, the creator and perfectionist (and my mother, the perfect seamstress) will notice those little details. Lily will look adorable on Sunday in her sparkling white gown.

Somehow, before Sunshine’s baptism, I never even thought of a special gown. She wore a simple white sundress from a writer friend of mine. It was only a few months after her baptism that Mom gave me the leftover fabric from my wedding dress. I’ve saved it until now, for this dress, this day.

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