Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Overalls of Excessive Cuteness

You may notice a recurring theme in my Christmas gift garment posts.

And that theme is corduroy.

I'm not sure exactly what it is about corduroy that I love so much. Maybe, as one online friend of mine noted, it reminds me of my early-80's childhood clothes. Maybe it's because it's a less-commonly used fabric for children's clothes these days, and I do enjoy an unexpected fabric application. Or perhaps it is simply that corduroy is visually appealing and interesting without being fussy or specifically girly or overly juvenile. Plus it wears well, being both warm and durable, as well as needing no special laundry care. All good things. And it's versatile, too! Yesterday I showed you off a bubble dress for Peanut in fine-wale cord. Today, a garment for Bubby, also of cord, but used in an entirely different way.

I give you: The Overalls of Excessive Cuteness


Lots of credit - and I do mean a lot of credit - goes to Shannon at googiemomma for these overalls. Back in December she posted about overalls she made for her own toddler baby. I had been trying to figure out exactly what I was going to make for Bubby for Christmas but inspiration had not struck. I took one look at her post and a voice in my head fairly screamed, "THAT!" I dug around in my stash and found the most luscious, soft, darkly teal wide-wale cord I had. And that, as they say, is that.




Just as Shannon noted her struggle to get clear, well-framed photos of her daughter wearing her overalls, I similarly struggled. This kid will just not. stay. still. Or cooperate. But at least she's cute.

upside down

The overalls came together really well, and I'm pleased with how they turned out. She loves them, which is of course of greatest importance, and they fit nicely. Per Shannon's helpful emails, I used a gusset at the crotch to create the three dimensional space necessary to accommodate not only a human shape but a cloth diaper in addition to the demands of toddler baby-play. The overalls are partially lined - because I had a limited supply of the lining fabric - with a quilting cotton print and fastened with two fabric-covered buttons in the lining fabric. They have a turn-up cuff because a) it gives them a little extra longevity and b) they are frickin' adorable.



They do, of course, have a pocket. Because overalls are not overalls without a pocket, and because where else is a busy girl to stash her Playmobil unicorns and goats if not a bib pocket?

pocket 1

pocket 3

pocket 2

It's hard to beat the sartorial versatility of corduroy overalls. Even little fairies like to wear them.


Friday, January 18, 2013

a bubble dress for Christmas

It's been reeeeeaaaally cold for the past few days.

Last week it was warm. And any Ottawan can tell you, warm weather is not sunny weather. It's usually grey. Warm = grey. Sometimes rainy, usually snowy, but not bright. No, if you want bright sunny weather you have to wait for the cold. And not that sissy, wamby-pamby cold, either, but the deep, down, freeze-you-to-the-marrow cold. You know, the quality Canadian cold. Yesterday we had it and I wanted it. But we also had an entirely trashed living room and a sleep-deprived, under-caffeinated mommy with the temper of a newly-awoken bear in the spring. This morning brought -26C temperatures (that's -15F for you 'Murikans), a bright, unobstructed golden sun, and a well-rested, far-better-caffeinated mommy. Bad for anyone with plans to take leisurely walks outside, but good for me. Kidlets ate breakfast and I hurriedly made the living room presentable. Because I really wanted to show you a bit of what kept me at my sewing desk day after day, night after night back before Christmas.


I can not even begin to tell you how proud I am of this dress. I mean, we're talking way beyond that healthy, "ya done good" sort of normal pride. No, I'm into full-on, first-cornice-of-Dante's-purgatory, sinful pride. I want her to wear this dress everywhere we go and then faux-modestly quip, "Oh, her dress? Oh yeah, I threw that together one night before Christmas. No big," while inwardly yelling "Booya! 'Spect!" Because I'm  all street like that, you know.




The dress is printed fine-wale corduroy, fully lined with a brown and turquoise-dot cotton print (previously seen here and here) with white fine-wale corduroy piping at the waist and a single-button closure at the back.   I used this tutorial to get the general idea, but drafted my own pieces based on Peanut's measurements. I had drafted a paper pattern back in October for Peanut's fairy costume (which I've only just realized I neglected to feature in a post) and used that as the basis for the bodice of the dress. The skirt? Well, to be quite honest I couldn't even begin to tell you the proportions of the skirt. It was late and I was highly caffeinated when I started working on this. I can't remember anything about the math I used to arrive at the drafted pieces I did, and I drafted directly onto the yard goods I used (risky, I know, but I couldn't very well try a muslin on my 4yo and expect to keep it a surprise, could I? And therein lies the terror of sewing surprise garments for older children: what if she loves it but it doesn't remotely fit??) so I can't so much as give you a hint in that regard. Check out the tutorial I linked above: that woman did a way better job of being helpful than I am going to be, I'm afraid. 

But do ogle the dress some more. Oh yes. do ogle this dress.

button closure


shoulder 2

surprised face

It's a perfect fit. Perfect. If I had made a dozen muslins and tried it on her countless times before I cut into the cord I could not have made a better fit. I have no idea how I managed it. It was sheer dumb luck (and do read that with Maggie Smith's Prof. McGonagall-voice: it's how I hear it in my head and it's awesome).

entire dress

Pride aside, though, the very best moment with this dress happened before she ever tried it on. She opened it Christmas morning, snatched it up out of the paper and held it at arm's length and exclaimed, "I love it!! Thank you, Mommy!!" and threw herself into my arms, hugging me. The dress coming together exactly as I wanted it to is good. But making my little girl rapturously happy with something I made with my own two hands? Way better. Way, way better.

dress 2

Friday, January 11, 2013

the afternoon nap

I have things to do.

There is a lot that needs doing. My kitchen is piled high with dishes that need washing. The living room carpet needs vacuuming. A basket of clean, dry laundry sits in the hallway near the drying rack, awaiting folding. The drying rack is full of dry diapers that need to be stowed away in their basket. The dining table needs wiping. Flyers need to be read, a grocery list for the coming week prepared. A very late lunch needs to be prepared and served. Correspondence to write, articles to read.

I have things to do.

But I sit, instead, still and quiet on my couch. Instead, I knit a hat for my oldest, a pink and peach handspun, bobbled, gnomish number to keep her warm. I am pinned to the couch by my youngest, my baby, who still insists most days that naps occur in my lap. While she will gladly sleep alone on a bed at night, daytime is another matter. So I sit.

Most days I object, seeing this only as an interruption to my day, a suspension of all the important things I need to do. But as I sit here, I observe that the weight of her is pleasant. Heavy and soporific, her little honey-tufted head damp with the warmth that every sleeping child emanates, the burden of her is light and easy. She insists on my ease, enforcing my rest. And I know: these days are short, their tally numbered. How many more days will she so desire my closeness, this connection with me for her slumber? For how much longer will I be her sanctuary?

I sit. I enjoy the weight of her as she sprawls across my lap or lies prone on my chest, head on my shoulder. She breathes deeply, restfully, and I echo her, embracing the lesson she has to teach me. Her sister plays, imagining aloud in whispers. The needles softly click, dipping in and out of the wool.

I have things to do.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

both sides

Seven years ago today we lost Laura. In her passing, she brought new life to six people awaiting organ transplant, including one pregnant woman who received her heart. So, really seven people.

We always knew Laura gave her heart to everything she did, pouring herself in with passion. Even in her death, she gave her heart to a young family.

Moments ago, Heléne Campbell posted these words on Facebook and Twitter:

Last year, my lung function was 19%, now it's 73%, and still going up. Crazy! Thank you ALL for the support, making 2012 an awesome year!

It is a comfort, seeing both sides of the equation. Laura could not live but others can, and do, because of her life. A six year old child has a mother in his or her life because of Laura's great, wonderful heart. Hélène Campbell is back at home with her beloved family, has returned to the camp where I was her counsellor, has dreams and ambitions that can now be realized because of the new lungs she received. My grandmother can see because of cornea donation.

Some years I forget a little that this is the anniversary of her death, that Boxing Day is the anniversary of her crash. Not this year. This year, for some reason, has been hard. She should be in university, or working, or travelling or engaged or dating someone amazing, or revelling in being unattached and carefree...any of the things she had imagined as a highschooler. I watch my other young friends, her contemporaries, age into adulthood and it hurts that she does not. She is timeless. She is forever. But she does not move forward in her living.

But Hélène's words this morning have been a tonic for my sorrow. She is so blessed to be here and alive and breathing, free of tanks, free of terror. She has her life ahead of her, as do Laura's recipients. 

It doesn't make her death acceptable. Lord knows it doesn't make it fair. But it makes it easier. 

It makes it a little easier.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


I said I was going to blossom this year.

In the brief moments I've had in the past few weeks to meditate on the past year, I've seriously questioned whether I actually have. Have I actually blossomed? I have I really accomplished all I could have?

But - being a fan of analogies as I am - I thought some more. The blossom isn't the culmination. The blossom isn't the great finish. The blossom is merely the step necessary before fruition. Apples and pears and oranges and peppers. Fruit for eating. Seeds for propagation. New plants. New life. The blossom is only part of the journey, not the destination.


And what have I done with this past trip around the sun? I sought out healing for myself, realizing that the honouring of myself could no longer be avoided. I changed my diet to find wholeness. We moved house, ridding ourself of the stress and anxiety that our previously mouldy, perpetually moisture-ridden home was bringing us, and instead embraced a little more quiet, a little more green, a little more space. We embraced home education, introducing a Waldorf perspective to our home, our family, our life. And I embarked on new endeavours, taking on clients and holding space with them as they walk into new stages of life.

I'm actually pretty proud of my year. It was rough at times, without question, but I have ended 2012 far, far more positively than I ended 2011. I've ended it in a very different place, both literally and figuratively, and while I'm a little surprised at the path the past year's journey has taken I am pleased with where I am. I feel grounded, like I know where I stand, like I have a sense of where I'm going. Even the big question marks hanging about seem more like gentle curves in the road rather than perilous blind corners. And I'm comfortable with that because life is unexpected: I certainly wouldn't want it to be boring.


merry and bright

Christmas came.

The final week of advent was unexpectedly and somewhat unavoidably hurried. It was determined that we needed carpeting in our living room, which put a slight hitch in our Christmas preparations. But we shifted things - all of our toys and living room furniture including our decorated Christmas tree - and plans and sacrificed a little a lot of sleep and got most things done. We got what mattered most done. And it was lovely.


Joy and family and closeness and craftiness (I have so many projects to share and as soon as it stops snowing long enough to be sunny and take some clear photos I'll do just that!). A simple pageant at church on Christmas Eve, full of chaos and noise and childish antics in the pews and in the aisles. Some immeasurable happiness and thankfulness beneath the tree from our girls - enthusiastic hugs and exclamations of "Thank you, Mommy!" over handcrafted gifts of love lead me to believe we're doing something right with these two. Hearty family meals, cookie baking, candy making, sneaky candy cane gifting (stuck 'em in the mail box slots of the other apartments in our building on Christmas Day) and more Christmas-music-listening dancing than I could begin to recount.

Belatedly, a merry Christmas to you and to yours, and may you be blessed in the new year.


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