Oh, this fairy dress.
I don't even know what fairies wear. Rose petals and cobwebs would be my guess. Or something similarly skimpy, gossamer and insubstantial. So they couldn't possibly be native to Minnesota. Or, if they were, they must fly south with the geese, come autumn.
But this dress - I really like it.
It's so different from the other costumes that I've sewn - it's short, sleeveless, asymmetrical (the last time I vaguely did asymmetry was this other one), fast and simple. And so ceruleany-violety. And with fabric flowers. Fabric flowers! They're from the same fashion family as ruffles, gathers and pink, aren't they? And-gasp -is that really me talking - the one who, all through her childhood, dressed like a boy? Does my brain even acknowledge those fashion concepts, let alone like them?
All credit to Emily, for insisting that this be a dress-up costume, rather than a trick-or-treating one. She was all prepared to wear layers of stuff inside it and under it, to brave the cold of Halloween night, so that she could float in it indoors for the rest of the year. She had a point - all the costumes I've made for the girls so far have been gowns - they have to be, to avoid freezing in Minnesota in October. And the girls happily wear them all year round in their pretend play. But do you know which are their favorites? It's their jersey knit Renaissance Festival dresses - the ones that slip on over their heads and feel like nightgowns - light and soft and free.
So this year I decided to sew their costumes without getting all hung up over the warmth issue. The girls are old enough now to know how to layer up without complaining like they did when they were younger. And if they're going to wear them mostly for pretend play, then I should make them suitable for pretend play. There would still be fleece, because one just doesn't play the fool with Minnesota temperatures. But the skirts got shorter, twirlier, flouncier. And we adapted and compensated by adding boots to keep legs warm outdoors.
Emily, however, wanted to push the limits even more. Sleeveless and spaghetti straps, she asked for. Whoa. Well, you know what they say - in for a penny, etc.
As long as she let me design how those straps turned out.
And the "short skirt" she wanted -well, there are short skirts, and then there are short skirts.
"Trust me", I told her. "I know short skirts (having expertly identified and avoided skirts of all kinds for years). You'll like the kind of short skirts my mind thinks of."
Because they know how to move
"And I want ballet shoes, Mum. Not boots. So I can dance and wear them inside. And I want the straps to go up high.."
"..and please don't let them fall down."
"And I need a butterfly mask. Can we make one together? Will you help me?"
"And I'd like everything to match my wings (I'll buy them with my allowance)."
It felt like a dry run for prom night in the not-too-distant future. I remember my mother and I having a conversation just like this one (minus wings and mask). It was my first prom. I couldn't stand fancy dresses. I didn't even know what I wanted. But she made the dress. And the coordinating shoe bows. And the purse. And I thought she knew magic. Now I know it's a gift. Nobody is born with it - all you need to do is have daughters and your daughters will give it to you.
Suddenly you will understand their world. You will pull it out of yourself as if it had always been there.
It will make you look like you know magic.
Even if you still have no clue what fairies wear.