69-year-old wedding dress becomes baptism gown
Beatrice Christoff, of Northampton, has been sewing since she was 8 years old. With all of that practice comes perfection. And for Amanda Erney, who asked Christoff to turn a 1940s satin wedding gown into a baptism gown, perfection is exactly what she got.
In 1948, Catharine Dunn wore the dress for her wedding; then in 1953, her sister Ann Probst wore the same dress for her wedding. Melissa Kinder, Dunn’s daughter, wore the dress in 1979 for her wedding, and Kinder’s daughter, Erney, wore the dress in 2011 for her wedding.
Now, Erney is expecting a baby, due to arrive Aug. 29. For the baptism, Erney wanted a special gown, so she asked Christoff to design and sew a gown and accessories for the service.
The baptism items Christoff made include a girl’s gown and slip, boy’s romper, girl’s hat, boy’s hat, girl’s booties, boy’s booties, girl’s bag, boy’s bag, puff quilt blanket, pillow, three garment bags and a coin purse.
“Everything [Erney] gave me, [she] gets everything back,” Christoff said.
What’s more exciting about the wedding-turned-baptism gown is that Christoff is entering all the items in The Great Allentown Fair’s department 18 domestic and fine arts category for judging.
When Christoff asked Erney if she was OK with this, Christoff said she didn’t hesitate for one second and said absolutely.
“She was so excited,” Christoff said of Erney.
Erney’s grandmother, Dunn, has seen the baptism gown as well. In September, at a reunion for the family’s sisters, Erney will show the items to them.
Christoff will drop off the gown and accessories Aug. 24 at the fair but has already shown the items to Erney, who was thrilled with how they turned out.
As one could expect because of age and wear, “[The dress] was a wrinkled mess,” Christoff said. “I steam-ironed it, and I looked at it and said, ‘I’d like this to be the top of the girl’s dress, and certainly the buttons are beautiful, so I preserved those.”
Using a sewing machine and also hand sewing, taking over 100-plus hours, Christoff made the girl’s dress first; next, the boy’s romper; and, finally, all the smaller accessories.
This is not the first time Christoff has entered a baptism gown into the fair. In 2014 and 2016, she entered items to be judged, and 2014’s submission won her Best of Show.
“I hope I win,” Christoff said of this year’s fair submission.
Christoff’s favorite pieces are the girl’s gown and blanket.
Christoff is entering additional items in this year’s fair, such as jewelry, a blanket made from T-shirts and a temperature blanket.
For the temperature blanket, “I crocheted one row every day in the year 2016, and you pick colors, so purple is 32 (degrees) and below freezing, and red is 90 (degrees) and above. Noon every day, I wrote down what the temperature was, and every day I would crochet a row that corresponds to [the chart],” Christoff said.
Christoff has been entering items since 2012.
Just last year, “I entered 38 things. I got 32 ribbons. And that was just last year,” Christoff said with a laugh. “The first year I entered, I got zero ribbons.”
When asked what it was like looking back at the memories of the wedding gown and turning it into a baptism gown, Christoff said, “I amaze myself. I realize that came out of my head and hands. You have this little vision, but it just expands. It becomes something.”