What makes children's boutique clothing heirloom quality? A heirloom item is made of the finest quality notions and materials. These items are from styles and patterns that never go out of style. There are several different characteristics to look for. One might think that the more something cost, the higher the quality. This doesn't hold true on the boutique front. There are plenty of overpriced brands that are far from heirloom quality.
Traditional boutique clothing is made from a material called batiste. This material is in the lightweight opaque fabrics category. Sometimes, a new batiste items look a bit on the stiff side. This it only because more than likely been lightly starched and pressed. Batiste that is not starched, is very soft to the touch. Most commonly it is a blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton. It can however, be of other blends. Batiste is usually very lightweight. It can be a bit transparent. Many items, such as the dresses, will come with a slip or have a built in lining.
Sheer is not a material that is favorable for heirloom items, but sometimes a sheer item can take a person by surprise. Some knits and sweater styles can be, but not as much as the batiste items.
Pincord is increasing in popularity and is being used more and more for the boutique clothing. It is almost a ribbed texture like material with a bit of gloss.
Corduroy is used in many heirloom winter items. Especially for the boys longalls. Very popular for motif holiday items.
Seersucker is a puckered material used for summer items. Usually for casual clothing, but it is sometimes used for fancier pieces of clothing. Seersucker is usually striped or gingham checked. A cotton material but sometimes blended with polyester.
Wool and silk are nice materials and are of high quality, but the problem is that these are natural materials, that are hard to store and preserve.
Bishop smocked dresses are among the most popular of the heirloom smocked items. The other types of smocking are bodice smocking and smocking done on a plate that is inserted into the piece of clothing. Picture smocking is growing in popularity however, it's border lining the term heirloom. Many picture smocked items are modern and trendy prints, even though the style of the garment is the same. Today smocking for boys is generally always picture smocking. It is rare that an item for boys has a patterned smocking plate. When it is a pattern, it's usually diamond stitches.
The majority of smocking is done by hand, and any heirloom item should be hand smocked. This is one of the reasons that you rarely ever see a smocked item's tag read "made in the USA". It is also the reason that smocked items are generally higher in cost. Some of the most popular boutique brands are hand smocked in the Philippines, Columbia, El Salvador and Brazil.
Appliques are usually animals but sometimes can be other objects and shapes. These are cutouts that are stitched along the edges to attach it to the piece of clothing. In the past these was not popular among clothing but today it is becoming more of a traditional style of clothing. This is perhaps due to the improvements to machines that embroidery the applique on.
Like the smocking, embroidery is done on a heirloom quality items. Many of the boutique layette dresses, gowns and rompers will have detailed hand embroidery on the collar or down the button tab.
Lace and Ribbon:
Lace and ribbon is not extremely popular among the heirloom classics. When lace is used it will most commonly be narrow French lace. The ribbon will be satin and not grosgrain.
Faggoting stitching is usually found on the sleeve cuffs or trims the collar. It is a open stitched type of lace. Very commonly found on boys items because it has a more masculine look.
Most higher quality boutique items will button rather than snap or zip. However, snaps are most commonly used between the legs on one pieces for convenience of course. Buttons for infants are usually tiny with a small amount of detail. On the bigger children's items the buttons usually have less details. Pearlized buttons are very common for babies and toddlers.
Piping is like a stiff string covered in material. It is then sewed onto the item to trim the seams. It is very common on heirloom items.
Peter Pan Collar:
A peter pan collar is the collar of choice for heirloom items. Most commonly a high quality boutique item will either have no collar or a peter pan collar. The girls will usually be rounded, and the boys will be more pointed.
Pintucks and Pleats:
Pintucks are very common in baby layette heirloom items. These are usually done in series of at least three or more vertical stitches. Unlike pleats, the stitching is on the outside, with a beginning and end point. Pintucks are very common on daygowns and newborn items.
Pleats are vertical stitches sewn on the inside of the garment to give a crease or gathered look. Pleats are more common in toddler dresses or smocked items.
Heirloom boutique items are not commonly long sleeved. If so, the girls will usually be puffed and the boys will usually be a button cuffed. For the girls short sleeves, puffed and angel sleeves are extremely popular. For the boys, the items that are not sleeveless usually have cuffed short sleeves.
Daygowns deserve their own honorable mention. These have to be one of the most heirloom styled items for newborns. Made for boys and girls these have been a tradition for well over 100 years. Best of all, many of them are unisex, meaning suitable for a baby boy or girl. In the early 1900's it was very common to use these for small children up to two years old, even the boys. Just view some old pictures of baby boys and it's very common to see them wearing an item that looks just like a dress, which is in fact a daygown.
Just visit the local boutiques and look for these qualities for buying products that will become family heirlooms. There are many boutique brands that have been manufacturing children's clothing for decades. One of the most popular baby heirloom makers, has been making traditional boutique items for over 100 years. Another popular brand, that specializes in smocking has been in business for nearly 40 years. With this many years of experience it's hard to go wrong. These items are great for pictures of generations to come. There is something really special about having every child in the family for generations wearing the same outfit in their baby pictures.