Making Gowns for Sleeping Angels

This may seem out of place but I considered it important to get out there. So this is some tips on how to make an angel gown for stillborn babies.

You can make gowns out of almost anything as long as it’s not see through. Pale colours are best and adding things like lace and ribbons add that something extra.

I volunteer for a charity that uses wedding dresses to make the gowns so you can also use satin to make your gowns. Due to the size of them it’s important to make them in a certain order it is also important to make them open backed for ease of dressing.

First you need to sew the 2 back pieces to the front at the shoulders.


I have no serger/overlocker so I use zig zag stitch to tidy my seams. Some machine have an overlock stitch, you could also use pinking shears or cut extra at the seams and use a french seam.

Now you need to finish the edges of the sleeve with zigzag, overlock stitch or double hem. Unless you used a double hem you now need to hem your sleeve by turning under 0.5 cm.

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If you are using a facing to finish neckline with please scroll down before continuing. If you’re using bias tape read on.

You can now join sides and under sleeves by sewing from cuff to hem. I like to cut a slant at the sleeve so when turned right way no seams poke out. You will need to cut into the underarm to reduce bulk and ensure when turned right way it doesn’t wrinkle.

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Now finish your edges along centre back (CB) and hem. Start at neck and go down one CB along hem and up the other CB. Now turn under and sew. fold your hem before your CB as it’s tidier.


At this stage you have a few options of how to finish the neckline.

I find the easier is using bias tape.

You should fold up your bias at the end by cutting either side slanted, folding short edge up then folding tape in half to close it up. Cutting like this helps prevent unwanted raw edges poking out.


Fine the centre of gown front and of the tape. Line up with gown sandwiched between bias. Pin onto gown and pin bias together past neckline to create ties. I don’t measure how much I use I do this by eye but around 7-9 inches is good amount of tie to have on one side so 14 inches plus amount needed for neck is a good minimum to work from.

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If you don’t like bias or don’t have any to hand you can use a facing. This is probably cheaper option but I personally prefer how it looks with bias tape.


However I have had to do this whenever I run out. After you have secured shoulder seams fold your gown out and iron those seams flat. Lay the right side (outside) of the gown onto a rough piece of fabric you only need a small rectangle. Sew them together by sewing around the neckline. Then cut excess fabric away by cutting along the neckline of gown.


Turn this to the inside and topstitch along the neckline again.


At this point I sort the facing. For these I used dress lining and it was quite slippery to sew, plus it was first time I faced a gown I’m not used to sewing dresses with no separate sleeves. I cut the facing in a curve almost like a bib inside making sure the edges matched to centre backs. I then zig zag finished the edges and turned them up. I experiments with different methods and shapes as shown below and found the curved one piece the neatest easiest option.

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You can now continue your gown as before but when you get to sewing the centre back and hem you should pop a length of ribbon at top of CB so they can be tied up. Make sure to seal the ends of your ribbon so they don’t fray.


You can now add ribbons, bows lace or anything else to front of gown. Some things may be easier to sew on before construction but I will cover that in my next how to.. coming soon.