Thursday, March 10, 2011

Preserving Kate

Nine Katydids:

In the past three or four years since I began sewing clothes in earnest for the kids, I've made some hits and some duds. The duds were mostly the ones I thought were in style - cottony sundresses, pretty party clothes, gathered tiered skirts- the kinds of things I saw on everyone else's blogs and decided I'd make for the girls. Guess what - they hated them. My children hate anything made of quilting cotton. They will, without exception, pick quilting cotton out in fabric stores when they are out shopping, but when it is made into a garment, they will refuse to wear it. 

"Why?" I ask, baffled. "You chose the cloth!" 
"It's stiff and not twirly and not soft."

Never let your children pick fabric for garments, was my 2009-2010 lesson. Let them pick fabric for toys and doll blankets and totes and suchlike, but when it comes to garments, THE MOTHER will choose the cloth. 

So it seems my children will only wear two kinds of garments that I make:
  1. anything made of knit
  2. costumes
And I don't know if your kids are anything like mine, but our three don't discriminate between store-bought and mom-made. They will wear both if the material is right, and the twirl factor is high. And they have their favorites. All three girls will dig in the clean laundry baskets for the same outfit they wore just yesterday, because they love it. Kate and Jenna will even opt for cleanliness-optional fashion if it means they can wear the same favored outfit every day. 

Disgusting and ridiculous as it is, this is a phase that will define their childhoods when I look back in the years to come. I will forever remember that Kate wore her Browna Suit (a brown Oshkosh knit dress with small flowers and a little pink bow) and Jenna, her purple shirt with the sequinned heart and her too-tight twirly tie-dyed-esque skirt more often than any other outfit in 2010/2011. And I will remember Kate and Jenna taking turns (on their good days, I mean) to wear their halloween costumes from morning till night. I will be glad that I took the time to sew them their impractical dress-up outfits that they love so much, while they were still young enough to love them. Why am I suddenly aware of this? Because Emily, who is not even seven, has already outgrown the dress-up princess phase. Who told her to sneak off and grow up?

And so I am starting a new tradition - I want to freeze their odd fashion preferences in some way - photos, videos, and little peg dolls. I think, time and energy permitting, for their birthdays, I might paint each girl a set of peg dolls of themselves dressed in their favorite outfits of the year. 

For Kate's birthday 2011, this will be a collection of herself as princesses. 
(L-R, top to bottom):
Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Tiana (her own loose interpretation), Strawberry Shortcake, Renaissance princess, and Rapunzel.

They are all her, with her round head and short bob, 
even this one which sports a straw-colored wig: 
You can still see her brown hair peeking out under it.
(I haven't shown you this particular outfit yet, incidentally - 
I'll get off my behind and post about it soon).

 A little army (for that is what she feels like sometimes) of Katydids

and  her sisters

to commemorate a summer when they were all young enough to get dressed up and giddy-headed at the Renaissance Festival.

So no sewing this week - 
just a basketful of fashion and fairytales, frozen in time.

I've already bulk-ordered a lot more peg dolls for the next few years. 
Until they graduate from college, I mean.


  1. I adore this idea. What a great way to remember them at different ages. I have three girls also, and the older two (9 and 7) rarely dress up anymore. I do love that in years past they have been able to pick whatever they want to be for Halloween and we have made it happen. These old costumes usually become loved dress-ups.
    My baby turns 3 in less than a month and I was looking for an idea that would be unique and fun. You just solved my puzzle for me. Besides, how sweet are those dolls to you too? I will be buying little peg dolls tomorrow. Thanks for a wonderful post!
    Now if only I could paint as well as you. . .

  2. That is incredibly sweet! So unique and perfect.

  3. What a creative way to preserve these memories! Though I don't actually understand what's wrong with the twirl factor? I still choose my dresses with that criterion in mind.

  4. I wish I'd thought of that when my girls were little. They're both in college now. I have no idea how that happened.
    I agree - the kids did not like things made in quilting cotton despite the fact they picked out the cheesy prints. It was all about polar fleece, tulle, cotton/lyrcra knit, and slippery costume polyester. Twirl was key as was things that would stay on and cover butts whist hanging upside down on the monkey bars.
    Your girls are adorable.

  5. These are darling! Emma saw them and said, "What cute little dolls!

  6. beautiful post.
    i was wondering what type of paint you use?
    i would love to paint some for my DDs.
    Thank you.

  7. What an adorable and special idea.

  8. Kathya: I use acrylic paint. Two coats each of acrylic paint and polyurethane varnish. Both can be found in small inexpensive bottles at craft stores. I also use a toothpick for the little details.

  9. These are wonderful!
    What a great idea!

  10. What a great way to preserve memories! And have fun toys at the same time. :)

  11. I love to make clothes for my daughter, but I know what you mean, she only wants to wear twirly, princessy dresses instead! (those dolls are gorgeous!)

  12. What wonderful little dolls!
    That is such a great idea, my 7-year-old is still in the dress-up phase, and she loves to wear her Christmas dresses all year.
    Velvet, fur collar, over-the-top, she loves them.
    I love this idea of commemorating the dresses.

  13. I am a new reader and am learning so much from your blog, thank you.

    The peg people are adorable and a neat way to remember your kids, so cute!

  14. What a great idea! They are so cute!

    Luckily my daughter doesn't mind wearing quilting cottons, but I do make them as comfortable as possible. I try to enclose the seams and make them rather twirly. Knits are usually the favorite, though.

  15. So cute! I happen to think that peg dolls are quite addictive. May I ask what you coat your dolls in, as in the clear gloss layer?

  16. I love the peg dolls...are you able to paint them so perfectly the first round or did it take a lot of trial and error (throwing away a lot of pegs?) You are MIGHTY talented..Gosh..sewing and painting and crafting..I am SOOO amazed and not to mention jealous..and with 3 beautiful kids, I am really amazed at how you can blog, craft and take care of the kids! And write a lot of tutorials (which we are all thankful for in the blogosphere!).

  17. Gah! Now I know what I'll be staying up late doing tonight...

  18. What a great idea! Not that my little tom boy will dress up very often, mind. Still, I know that I still have several peg dolls around here somewhere, waiting to be painted.

  19. This is wonderful! I want to do this for my adopted grandbabies! Fabulously homemade and memorial and creative all at once!
    Kudos & Thank you!


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