Making Alencon lace seams McCall’s 6221 Baptism dress

One of my friends was looking for a baptism gown for her baby and was having trouble finding one. This is the same friend who lives in Paris and I was surprised she couldn’t find one she liked there so I offered to make her one and send it to her by Express mail. She wanted the dress to look like the Empress Josephine’s dress at her coronation but without the gold. That was a tall order but here is what my finished dress looks like above. It is Alencon lace with a silk charmeuse underdress which is underlined with light pink cotton flannel. The pink underlining gives a slight pinkish hue which I like. It was the first time I worked with lace and I would like to share some tips I learned from working with lace.
Empress Josephine
This was the pattern drawing for McCalls 6221, the pattern I adapted. I had to ignore the directions since I was making a lace overskirt that requires a totally different technique which I will now try to explain. I also had to shorten the dress since my friends’ baby is one and walking and would trip on a long gown.
This is the Alencon lace I chose. You have to lay the pattern crosswise on the fabric when you cut. I wanted the border to be at the waist and and at the hem . The measurements of the babies length has to be perfect because you can’t hem it if it’s too long or you will ruin the border. I hope it fits her!
You have to use an applique seam method when working with thick lace. If you make a normal side or shoulder seam it will be too bulky. Applique seams are overlapped and fell stitched by hand. The motifs are matched up and then the overlapped part is folded over to the other pattern piece, on top of the matching design and hand stitched over it. The overlapping lace excess is then cut away from underneath. Above is the overlap on the front bodice I am explaining. When it is folded over the back bodice and sewn down and trimmed from underneath, the seam will be invisible.

You have to hand baste the seam lines with a colored thread so you can know how to lay out the pattern because you won’t be sewing it at the seam line but around the edges of the raised flowers. Don’t use red thread for the seam lines because it leaves lint behind. The net around the edge of the motif also needs to be neatly trimmed.

Lining up the two blue thread seem lines. You can pin it so it doesn’t shift when you sew it.
Sewing the motif down with a fell stitch.
I also sewed the lace down from behind to make the seam stronger. This is after I trimmed away the excess from behind on the wrong side of the lace.
This is the finished bodice shoulder seams .The seams are not noticeable
Pinning the lace bodice to the silk charmeuse dress underneath. The neckline will have a silk bias binding and it will have a flannel hand stitched lining inside to make it warmer for the Paris winter.

Above is how you cut the skirt. Insted of one front and two backs like the pattern says I sewed one continuous piece to avoid seams.
The one seam in the skirt has to be overlapped the way I overlapped the lace at the bodice. Do you see how the seam need to be overlapped?


The flannel hand sewn lining with snaps. I was afraid to sew buttonholes on the lace. I sewed silk buttons as decoration on the outside. I think it turned out pretty nice. I hope I have done a good job explaining lace seams .


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  1. Maria says

    Wow, the gown is beautiful! I love the lace. You did such a great job.

  2. Anonymous says

    I’m the friend in Paris and anyone reading this blog, should know I’m truly mesmerized at the work and creative energy Justine has put into making this very special dress for my little girl. I’m honored that you made this dress for her. Thank you very much and I love and miss you. I’ll send pictures of the event!

  3. Murphy Highland Dane says

    What a lovely job! You did a great job explaining and the photos are wonderful! The dress is simply beatiful!

  4. Kristina says

    I’m in love with this dress !!! Where can I buy the same Alencon lace fabric ?

    • Virginia Morein says

      I have been searching for a lace flower girl dress for my 1 yr old grandchild!! This is fabulous!! Where can I find this lace??
      I think I can have it made with your instructions!!!! My daughters wedding dress is solid lace and this would be perfect for her Godchild!!!

  5. Miranda says

    Hi, I’ve bought the pattern and found the lace. I’m confused how to attach the lace – at which point do I stop following the instructions in the pattern? I haven’t sewn that much before this, and the pattern includes instructions for an overlay – but I need more help! My little girl with look gorgeous in this dress if you can help me

    • says

      hi Miranda. You trace the seamline on to the lace with a needle and thread first. Then you line up the two skirt panels side by side, with the threaded seams on top of one another. Cut around the edges of the lace flowers so you have a clean cut and dont trim through the middle of any of the lace will be a very way seam line but you wont see it. It has to be stitched together by hand. I think Ill write another tutorial for this this week.

    • Ariana says

      Hi I’m looking for the lace. I have the pattern but can’t find the same lace. Where did you get it from?
      Thank you so much! -Ariana

  6. V says

    Hi Miranda. This is a beautiful dress. I have the pattern on order. I am going to put my sewing skills to use. My query about the shoulder seams was answered with your earlier post.

  7. Cynthia Torres says

    Hi There-
    I sent you a message on Etsy regarding this dress. I am helping my brother and sister in law find a lace baptism gown for my 4 month old niece. We absolutely love this one! Is it possible to purchase one similar to this? We are located near you in Ventura County. Please email me. Thank you!! Cynthia