Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fairy



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 fall

and drape.

"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.  


26 comments:

  1. Look at that beautiful smile on her beautiful face! What wonderful treasures you're giving your daughters! I bet this is something she'll remember when she has children of her own -- grandchildren, even! :-)

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  2. Oh my goodness!! Your firstborn is growing up much too fast! But what a lovely fairy she makes! With a delightfully fun costume! Beautiful!

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  3. Fantastic costumes!
    My mum made my Year 10 Formal dress. It was a beautiful off the shoulder 1980's number. It must have been too stressful (all that blue taffeta with tulle underskirt) because after that she suprisingly declared that she would never, ever make me another dress, and she was talented at sewing! Thankfully she did change her mind later : )

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  4. Que lindo esse vestido de fada. Ficou lindo na sua filha. Parabéns por seu trabalho e obrigada por compartilhar.
    Beijos

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  5. wow! vorrei essere brava a cucire, mi manca!

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  6. The dress is beautiful, what a lucky girl!

    I love that you described it as magic when you were young, and a gift your daughters give you now. It made me smile to hear it described that way. That is how I felt about my grandmother who sewed my costumes for me, and is my gift to my daughter now. Lovely post, thank you. :)

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  7. I think this is the sweetest post. I can remember hemming my daughters wedding dress last minute and her still looking at me like I could do magic when I delivered it to her. You amaze me with your sewing. Even now as I sew for my granddaughter I have to have a pattern. What you are always pulling off, well You Do Have Magic!

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  8. I love, love, LOVE all your Halloween costumes. You have been an inspiration to me in finishing up costumes for my own kiddos. There really is something magic about being able to create something they have in their minds. I love it! By the way, have you seen this costume: http://www.iammommahearmeroar.net/2012/10/loki-costume.html I immediately thought of you :) Have a great day.

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    1. Eee! Thanks for the link, Lucy! I hadn't seen it but I went to check it out. Loki! And cardboard! Be still, my pounding heart.

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  9. Absolutely beautiful!

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  10. Your post is beautiful. Your dress is, too, but you made me feel all soft inside thinking about my daughter... and boys do that to you, too. I cannot believe what being a mom has made to me. Thank you for writing all that !

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    1. Hey Cecile: I suspected that it's something not exclusive to daughters, but I wouldn't know as I don't have boys! You're right - motherhood changes a person in so many good ways. Hurrah!

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  11. What a beautiful piece. Lier rocks!

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  12. Wow, this is the BEST ever! I'm in awe!

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  13. I teared up a little at the end of this.

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  14. Dear Lier,
    Thank you for sharing your lovely creations with us readers - but more importantly, pearls of wisdom that you weave into your stories. This is one of those days when your blog "fills
    my bucket".
    Patty

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  15. all the girliness in the world comes out when one is called to duty to pull a fancy dress vision from the ether... I love that Emily is deeply entrenched in the creative process but knows where the limits end (a wearable costume yes, engineering fairy wings with stiff and pokey wire no)...
    love all of the girls' costumes, there seem to be lots of butterfly/fairy/flying costumes about this year!

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  16. me too as I will never know that feeling as it's 4 boys I have, still I might not make fairy dresses or prom dresses but I do a pretty mean jedi cloak :)

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  17. Hi, I love what you say about having daughters. I am still waiting for the gift to come in. My girl is only 2 so I think I have time. We live in Minnesota to and I agree fairies aren't dressed for our weather.

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  18. Emily is awesome. Which is no surprise considering who her mother is. :)

    And yes, boys do this to you as well, though usually not with fairies and skirts. My son's admiration and appreciation for the things I make for him -- birthday cakes with gears or Lego bricks, Halloween costumes representing a spider or bat -- does feel like magic being exchanged.

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  19. What a great post. Love the part about having daughters, I had a dream about my Grandma last night and this reminded me of ALL the costumes she made us over the years- I thought she knew magic too. I wish for a daughter someday. Your girls are beautiful!

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  20. Aww sweetness! I totally agree. Been wondering how I've managed to stay up nights putting together a pink princess gown without putting a fork through my eye. Now I know. ;)

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  21. Oh. My. Goodness. It is going to take me a year to stop drooling. can you please put up a tutorial. i am fairly sure I can try out the skirt by myself, but a tutorial would be great.

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  22. LOVE this post - esp. knowing I will have the fancy-dress skills when I need them. That mask, those ballet shoes are divine (are you going to give us some insight into how that was done? My girl would DIE to have shoes like that). And that flower-petal skirt is perfect.
    I have a pretty fancy flamenco dancer on my blog - but (cheat!) I didn't make the dress. But I did make my son's chickadee wings :)

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  23. One year my daughter wanted to be a Sprite...whatever that is. We came to a compromise and put together a pink pile of fluffy girliness... Now that she's 30 she still can't tell me what a Sprite is, except for the soft drink kind... I laugh about it every year.

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  24. Your post is THE perfect article for the next year october magazine, when people start thinking what costume to make. Very poetic and sentimental. Thank you!

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