framing a baby dress

Marian ParsonsAll Things Home, crafts, Decorating, Guest Room, My House, Room Makeovers, Tutorials80 Comments

I’m still chipping away at the finishing details in the guest room.  One of the details that had me a little stuck was what to hang to balance out the mirror hung by the left side of the bed…

I tried holding up a few different things…mostly collections of smaller pieces.  As I looked through pictures in my stash that still haven’t found a home on a wall, I found this large bird print.  I bought it shortly after we moved in, but I realized that it really didn’t work with anything.  (I really needed a pair and I could only find one.)  It was one of those purchases I regretted, but I didn’t have the heart to take a $100 purchase to a thrift store until I exhausted all options.  With several rooms still in the works and needing makeovers, I still had hope that I might find a home for it.

Almost at the same time as I was eyeing this bird print, I thought about the antique baby dresses hanging in the sewing room closet.  I wonder if one would fit in the frame…  

The frame had about a 1/2″ gap between the print and the glass, making it a good candidate to use as a shadow box.  The frame was also the perfect size to balance out the mirror.

I dismantled the frame and the print was actually mounted on foam core board, so I was able to use that as the base.  If it was mounted on cardboard, I would’ve cut a piece of foam core board to use.  I ironed an antique hemp sheet I had in my fabric stash and cut it to the size of the foam core board, allowing an inch or so on each side for overhang.

I could’ve used adhesive spray to affix the fabric, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I just used hot glue around the border.  I would apply a bead of glue, pull the fabric taut, and hold it in place until the glue cooled.

This worked because the fabric is thick, so you couldn’t see the glue through.  If you’re working with thin linen, I would suggest using a spray adhesive.

Once the fabric was affixed, I cut off the excess.

I spread out the dress and hanger, arranging them how I wanted them to hang.  I then used small pins to pin both the dress and hanger in place.  For the dress, I pinned the bottom layer, so the pins wouldn’t be visible.

I decided to use the hanger as well to fill the frame a bit better and add more interest, but you can certainly mount a piece of clothing on its own.  I pinned the hanger in two places around the hook and one where the hook meets the wood piece.  The dress was pinned at the sleeves and skirt.

I put it all back together and here is how it looks…

Since I already had all of the materials, this project felt like it was “free”, but in actuality, the frame was purchased for $100 about a year-and-a-half ago.  The fabric was a remnant off of a larger piece and the dress belonged to Jeff’s mom. So, I would peg this project at about $120 total, which isn’t bad for a large, custom piece of art.

Doesn’t it look so sweet?

Oh, and there’s a look at the other dresser I found for this room!  I was going to get a desk, but this dresser was just too precious to pass up.  It’s such a beautiful piece and it was in fantastic shape.  I’m living with it as is for a while, but it might get painted.

In other guest room news, I’ve been working on painting the doors in the room.  They need just one more coat and then that part of the project will be done.

I was planning on putting a frosted film in the closet windows, but I tried one pane and I didn’t like it.  It just looked too modern.  I decided to take a more traditional approach and I ordered a couple of white sheer panels.  I’ll install them on the inside of the doors and they’ll brighten up the windows, so it doesn’t look like a black hole in there.  It will also hide all of the stuff stored in there.  I try to keep it neat, but it’s still not pretty!

The room is really coming along…

framing a baby dress

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80 Comments on “framing a baby dress”

  1. My daughter is almost 36. When she was born six weeks early she came home in the sweetest premie outfit. It would be lovely to frame that! Thanks for the idea!!

  2. That dress is just like the ones my mother saved from my babyhood. I have them in aged white, dusty pink, and pale yellow. My daughters also wore them for photos when they were babies. I’m now 76, so you can see if my dresses fit into the same era as the one you’ve framed. You’ve created a lovely and meaning full addition to your bedroom.

  3. Everything looks just lovely. You may this too “modern” but I used a frosted glass spray paint on the inside of my french door closet and it looks good.

  4. I love this idea. I’ve been searching for an antique hanger since I saw how you hung a baby dress a few years ago. I have my grandfather’s christening gown which is almost 120 years old. Maybe a shadow box will be easier to find than a hanger, and a better way to preserve it.

  5. Such a sweet dress! I love everything about this room and can’t wait to see the finished project! You have such a good decorative eye for pulling things together!

  6. You have given me inspiration to use my almost 64 year old dress that is stashed in my basement. Your’s is lovely!!

  7. I must admit that when you started the guest room, I really didn’t like it. Now, with everything all together, I find it so delightful! The new old dresser with its accompanying vignette is lovely! Another job well done!!

      1. If you use stainless dressmakers pins this will not happen. They are rust proof. You can buy/order archival grade mounting board(its acid free) if you are truly worried about preservation for the long term.

        1. Yes, the mounting board was acid-free and the pins are stainless dressmakers pins. I’m not concerned about deterioration. Anyways, I’d rather have it on display than in a closet! 🙂

  8. The little dress in frame is perfection! Thank you for the mini tutorial as well.
    Everyday, I check your site and always learn something…thank you, thank you!

  9. Fabulous idea. Why don’t you paint a bird to make it a set. You could do your own calligraphy to match…

  10. This makes mes think of something I did for my best friends baby shower. I got white knitted antique booties, baby hat and tiny baby mittens and framed them over an old quilt, I sprinkled just a tiny bit of mylar glitter and framed in an antique frame. I haven’t thought about that in years. The ‘baby’ is now in her 30’s and the gift was the hit of the shower. Thanks for the memory jog.

  11. Love your new artwork and the dresser you’re using as a side table. Where did you get the table lamp? I’ve been looking for one just like that?

  12. Just lovely…. such a sweet vignette. Taking your time to find just the right piece is so worth it and it really shows.

  13. I agree with the others. The room is perfection! I love the framed baby dress and thank you for sharing the steps to creating this unique piece of artwork. I hope to see your guest room featured in a magazine this Spring.

    1. Would you mind sharing the brand and name of the wallpaper? I adore wallpaper, and in Love with yours💕

  14. I really like how the baby dress looks in that wooden frame. The wood frame also works well with the dresser. I’m hoping you don’t paint it … just my 2 cents.

  15. The baby dress is perfect! Love everything except the lamps. IMHO, too much wood on wood. I would suggest painting them white.

    1. The wood on wood doesn’t bother me too much since the lamps tie in with the bed frame, but I am still considering painting the lamps or the dressers. We’ll see. I need to live with things for a little while before I move ahead. I have also considered wall-mounted brass sconces since the lamps are a little bulky, but I sort of like the bulk they add to either side of the bed. It’s a process…

  16. I adore the dresser! The American antique furniture vernacular is just so beautiful! I really understand why you appreciate the craftsmanship & timeless beauty. I love seeing these gorgeous pieces especially as they are quite different from those seen here in Australia. And the framed dress… So perfect to use a sentimental piece to create such a beautiful artwork. I have some vintage baby dresses hanging on the foot of a brass bed. I never tire of looking at them. Thanks again for sharing.

  17. I have one too. Found amongst my Grandmother thing after she passed. My Mother gave it to me. I had it framed, called it the baby dress with blue French knots. Love how you put it together.

  18. Hi Marian! All I can say is WOW, what a change! You have just outdone yourself in that guest room! The more I see that wallpaper, I love it even more, if that’s possible. I’ve seen baby dresses/outfits framed like that before but I’ve never seen the hanger included. That little wooden one seems to add a bit of character to it. I like it, it looks very sweet. I’m still in awe of how you did all that trim work. Just the math involved makes my head hurt, lol! Now here we go again with me begging you not to paint that newest dresser again, lol. It’s beautiful and it’s oakkkk Marian. Those old oak pieces are getting more scarce than hens teeth! Find something begging to be painted, just not that beautiful detailed oak. Plus you said it’s in mint condition! Ok I’ll hush now. I’ve pleaded my case, lol. I think the whole room is beautiful. Great job, Marian! Have a great day tomorrow! 😊

    1. a, it is in great condition, but it has been stripped and refinished, so it’s not wearing an original finish or patina. The wood is a bit yellow from the stain/finish chosen, whereas the dresser on the other side is much warmer and richer. So, we’ll see. I’m going to leave them for now.

  19. Love the idea and the room! Where did you get the small white pillows on the bed? Love them and would love to find some for my room. Thanks!

    1. Those were pillowcases I purchased at a flea market when I was in Italy last year. Aren’t they sweet?

  20. The room looks great! I like the dressers in the wood, It balances all the paint. The dress is darling. I used to work in a frame shop (thus the comment I left above). I love old textiles , things are just not made the same, not in quality of materials or time spent in all the loving details.

  21. Hi Marian!
    Looks soooo good!
    I have to ask this…well the type A in me has to ask…
    I know you have that gray on all of your doors but, does it go well with the wallpaper?
    I am a white trim all around type of girl, until I saw your doors in your upstairs rooms. But for some reason I think I would be doing the french doors white in here. Maybe it hits my eye different than yours…

    In any case, it you’ve done a wonderful job..your trim work is to die-for!!
    Karen

    1. I feel like the blue/gray of the doors goes with everything in my house, which is why I picked it. It looks nice with the wallpaper to me, but as you said, everyone has different tastes and preferences. I am also using soft blues in other places in the room that you haven’t seen, yet.

  22. You really transformed that room! But gray doors?? And for some reason the gold fabric doesn’t go. Maybe it’s different in person and I know you already had it. Just doesn’t blend with the other colors.

    1. I’m painting them the same color as the rest of the doors throughout the house, so I didn’t pick the color specifically for the room. I like the blue/gray with everything else, though. The gold fabric works to my design eye with other elements of the room, like the mustard-colored wardrobe across from the bed. Beige and yellow is an unusual color scheme, but I like how unique and soft it is.

  23. I love everything that you’ve done to your guest room and to your house but this time I think the bird print looked much better the dress looks to cutesy and just blends into the wall, the bird print looks more classic and sophisticated and I think it relates better to the beautiful wallpaper that you chose and to the gorgeous mirror on the other side and the dresser that you just found

    1. That’s okay. To each his/her own! The bird print wasn’t “speaking” to me, but this does. That’s what decorating is all about, though… picking what speaks to you.

  24. I did the exact same thing in my guest room. When we were settling my parents estate, I found several baby dresses that my mom had saved. I washed and pressed two of them, found thrifted frames in my stash and painted them to match. I had a pink silk blouse that I was going to donate but instead, I used it as the background stretched over foam core. I didn’t have a cute vintage hanger like yours but my result is very close to yours. I’m very happy with the result! Your framed dress came out so sweet.

  25. A mercury glass effect might look lovely on your door windowpanes, too! All you need is mirror spray paint & some water in a spray bottle. It looks antique & would reflect the light from the outdoors, as well as act as a full length mirror for your guests.

  26. I absolutely love your guest room! At first i was underwhelmed by the wallpaper, but as you add to the room, it looks stunning. The framed dress is so lovely! I have my sweet husband’s christening gown; it was worn by he & his 3 brothers, our 2 daughters & our granddaughter. Our 2 grandsons were too chubby for it! I have mine, too, but it’s not as sentimental as his! You have inspired me to bring them out of their old boxes and display them. Love the hanger!
    And please don’t paint that lovely dresser! I’ll give you double what you paid for it to save it!!

  27. I also like the bird picture as the colors of the bird reflect some of the other colors in the room, especially hints at the gold in the bed pillows. The white on white of the dress, while very cute, seems bland on that side of the bed. The room looks lovely with the natural wood pieces and your woodworking.

    1. I like that it is low in contrast and subtle. That was exactly the look I was going for. The great thing about decorating, though, is that you could certainly use a darker or more color piece of fabric and that choice wouldn’t be wrong – just different!

  28. I’ve been wanting to do this with my daughters baptism gown. How did you reassemble the back of the frame? I see people reusing thrifted frames but I never can figure out how to put them back together.

    1. I put the glass in first, then the art, making sure the glass was clean and the dress and fabric were laying the way I wanted. I then crimped the metal clips that hold the art in place. If there aren’t any clips with the frame, just use some nails, nailing them into the frame at a slight angle. That will hold the art in place.

  29. I love this room and that wallpaper is gorgeous! If you paint the dresser what color will you use? You have great style!

  30. What a great idea. I collect antique linens and have framed some of them, but never a piece of clothing. I should try it. I would use a background fabric with a bit more color, so the details of the dress would really stand out.

    1. Yep, that’s certainly an option. I wanted a low contrast, so the created piece of art would compliment the mirror. If it was black or a darker color, it wouldn’t balance as well.

  31. I love how those serendipitous things come together! And, how unusual that there was the needed half-inch gap under the glass! A perfect addition to your room.

  32. I love how you ‘found’ things you had and made a beautiful compliment to the mirror on the other side. Also, love that the frame is so slim and modern and looks great with the new wood dresser underneath. I have a very old bathing suit of my Mom’s (she almost 91) that is pink gingham cotton with stays (!) that I should look into framing like this.

  33. Love the baby dress and the whole room, especially the wallpaper!

    I have an adult (very small) size dress from around 1910, I think. Fine white linen with many details, as in rows of tucking and tiny pleats, somewhat sheer. Meant to be worn over many undergarments I’m sure. Would love to do something like this with it, but not sure if this is quite right … ideas? Anyone?

  34. I can’t wait for the full room reveal. Everyday I’m hoping to see it. I know it will be worth the wait though. Every detail so far is lovely. It’s going to be beautiful and serene I just know it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us.

  35. I’m sure you know that because the mirror is centered, the framed dress doesn’t need to be. If it was hung just a couple of inches to the right, the vignette would be more balanced.

  36. You had my interest on the redo of your guest room until I read that you are thinking of painting that lovely oak dresser. I understand that your paint line is at the heart of your business endeavors, but this piece is not begging for paint. I agree with a previous comment about finding a different piece to paint as oak furniture in good condition is harder and harder to find. I also think it would upset the balance of the room by having one dresser painted and the other one not. To each his own, I guess.

  37. The room is lovely and you have taken time to bring all the elements together beautifully. One small detail to consider is to change out the beige outlet plugs to match the white plate. It is a very simple job, turn off the breaker of course, but would really look so much better. You are such a doer, as you have said before, but leaving those dated outlets sends a different message. I love the baby dress, the bird seems to be facing the wrong way when it’s on that side of bed!

  38. Hi Marian! I’m sorry, I must have misunderstood about the newest dresser being in “mint” condition. I’m always getting things wrong, sorry about begging you not to paint it. I understand that’s what you’re all about, painting furniture, hence the paint line and other great things you’ve done. Just ignore me, because what do I know about painting furniture. Very little except I did paint my dining room chairs I bought unfinished many years ago, with your milk paint and still love them to this day. That’s the extent of my furniture painting knowledge, lol! It was hard to tell from the photos that the dresser had a bad finish on it. You’re a great photographer as well! So I’m curious now to see what color if any, you decide to paint it. I forgot to ask yesterday, is that wallpaper from a line of yours? If so, where do I buy it and if not, where can I purchase it? Thanks! You have a great weekend! 😊

  39. I love those lamps. I think they tone in perfectly with the bed. I also love the simplicity of the colour palette especially with the wallpaper. It’s perfect as it is but if I was going to change anything, I’d possibly paint the dresser in MMS milk paint maybe ‘grain sack’, ‘linen’ or ‘trophy’ even. I think it could make the beautiful detail in the dresser stand out even more. Whatever you do Marian will be stunning. I just enjoy watching you wave your magic decorating wand and seeing the magic you bring to a space.

  40. Marian –

    I love everything that you did in this room for YOU – I love the wooden lamp on wooden dresser, I love that you haven’t painted it (yet😉), I love the baby dress centered over the dresser and not off center, I love the gray doors – would I love it in my house, maybe not, because I love soft pinks and greens – but I certainly love it in yours – I’ll never understand the need to offer unsolicited opinions about what I think is wrong with someone else’s taste – There are very few homes that I walk into and think I love everything here and wouldn’t change a thing – but in those that I would change details to suit me I don’t say that because it doesn’t matter what I would change, because it’s not my house – if you ever wrote in your posts “I’ve done xyz here, what do y’all think” maybe I’d give my two cents –

    What I love most about you is the bravery and vulnerability you have – to open your world to us so that we can be inspired to make our own homes more perfectly us – and giving valuable skills and tips away to us that we might have to pay a decorator, architect, framer, upholsterer,etc for

    Thank you so much –

  41. Hi
    I love the dress. When I frame these items, I also mat a picture of the family member it belonged to and include it in the frame by floating it on foam board stilts. Then I put the story in an envelop on the back so that down the road someone knows what it is and why it is framed. I am at the stage of live that I am passing all these family finds on to the next generation as we uncover them from my Mom’s treasures.

  42. I have gone with all gray walls in my house. I know it is on the out, but for someone that has had beige for 20+ years, this is such a difference. My doors are a darker gray so that they contrast just enough. You are right, it takes time to find what fits. Parts of my rooms are still unfinished even after a year, because I’m waiting to find the right table or right accessory. I have two vintage oil landscapes and a seascape that I have in my bedroom. It’s fun to see it all come together. I think your guest room is very classic as everything you usually put together. Great job.

  43. I’m loving the way this room is coming together. I really like the wallpaper, and normally I am not a wallpaper type. I really love the mustard colored bedding. I’m sure you’ve shared where you got it, but I’m not remembering. I’ll do a search and see if I can find it!

    Thanks for sharing your process, even when you know not everyone will agree. That’s the thing about design. Its personal!

  44. The wood on the bed and lamps look so good with your wallpaper! I love that it looks so warm and inviting. You’ve always been my favorite blogger and truly give me inspiration. I have the traditional sheers on my French doors and it really seems to be the best choice when adding privacy. Can’t wait to see what color you paint the dressers. Haha I just have a feeling you’ll paint them.

  45. The guest room is lovely. I am sure that your guests will feel as though they are staying in a very elegant B & B. I am curious about your source for the linens used on the bed. (Specifically the gold quilt)
    Thanks

  46. Oh this is so adorable and I was so happy to see this tutorial! I have 3 little dresses from when I was 3 mos old (60 now!) that I have been wanting to frame somehow and hang in our Master Bath. I love it with the hanger! I will have to try to find some vintage hangers.

    1. That was actually half of a vintage hanger for pants. I clipped it in two to make two hangers that are the perfect size for baby dresses. Just letting you know, so you know what you’re looking for!

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