We sat on her bed, looking at the contents of her wardrobe. After flicking through the rail, I finally agreed with her. All her dresses were not suitable for a near-teen. It didn’t help that since last summer she has stretched. I mean really stretched. Dresses were now tunics and the rest were too young.
More dresses were definitely required. (Music to a mother’s ears, who likes to sew.)
It was a Saturday morning. The fabric shop would be open. Heading downstairs, I selecting a few possible patterns from my collection and let her choose.
Being a near-teen, she has clear ideas about what she likes. It is a fearless state of mind. She doesn’t seem to compromise and worry about what her friends will think. She knows what she likes and what suits her. I hope she never loses that clarity.
The making of the dress
She opted for Simplicity 5234. A simple dress, that gave a variety of combinations. Different options for the neckline, yoke fabric and sleeves, while the dress stayed the same, simple shape. She could design her own dress. How good is that? She was decisive and went for view B. She wanted a lace overlay, with cap sleeves.
Fearless, I tell you.
Next stop, the fabric shop.
It didn’t take her long to spot the perfect watery-blue. We looked at several laces and background fabrics, finally settling for a white, soft lace against white fabric.
Secretly, I was pleased she chose this dress pattern. I knew it would be quick to make and perfect for a wedding we were all going to this weekend. The dress is a pullover. No zips or buttons. A simple shape with a tie at the back.
I’ve not worked with lace before. The sleeves needed gathering at the top to ease them into the armhole. I found the combination of lace and gathering fiddly, but got there in the end.
Originally, she wanted the long version of the dress, but once fitted, she realised that the hem would work better for her as the short version. I cut off a couple of inches. If she changes her mind, I can easily add it back on.
The pattern was quick to make and no advanced tailoring. A great choice if you’re starting out on your dressmaking journey. The instructions are straightforward. If I was to make it again, I think it would take me an afternoon.
Why it matters that she designed it
She loves her new dress. The dress she designed. She’s not one to ask for lots of things, but when I prompted her, she did say she’d love another using the same pattern. I think I can manage that.
I’m glad we took this route. Yes. I could have let her loose in any number of clothes shops, with a purse full of money. I daresay, she would have found an outfit she liked. Maybe it would have been a compromised choice as closing time neared. This dress should last her a while (especially if I add the length back on). Unlike a shop bought outfit, it will not look easily dated. Eventually she will grow out of it, but it’s not destined to be thrown away in a matter of weeks/months as so much of our fashion goods are in this country. As the fashion passes.
It may seem like a small thing, but I love that I was able to give her control of the design.
I try to bring my children up not to be sheep. Following others blindly, without a thought. They may roll their eyes, but they’re also the first to point out when they see others following for the sake of following. I can also see in their actions that they understand. My daughter loves to draw. She loves to design. Doing it this way meant she could take her skill and transfer it to something she could wear. She led rather than being led by others. She designed it. She did it. Confidence boosted a notch or two more.
She wore her dress to the wedding and had a great time. She said it was an easy dress to wear.
Bizarrely, after the wedding, in a way that no one could ever have co-ordinated the timing so perfectly, we stepped out on to the pavement, and straight into the Bath carnival.
The music and dancing swept us all away. I had wondered if my dress (and this blue one) might be too bright for a wedding. Apparently not this wedding. Not with a carnival to finish off the proceedings.
Linking up with Crafting On and …
As I stitched this block, my thoughts were elsewhere. Once finished, I was almost surprised to find the finished quilt block in my hands. Unusual for me, as the repetitive process of knitting or sewing usually takes my mind away from subjects that are troubling me, giving me perspective. It didn’t this time. My fingers are so used to the motion that they carried on. Leaving my mind elsewhere. Stunned.
Like many in the UK, I have been reminded how democracy works, especially where a referendum is concerned. The majority wins. Every vote counts. The end result may not sit well, but at the same time I am thankful that I live in a part of the world that allows everyone to vote.
The decision is going to take some time to digest. I spent the impressionable younger years of my life immersed in other European countries and cultures. While holding onto the appreciation for my own nationality, my concept of boundaries between these countries is ….. absent…no maybe, minimal is a better description.
When I look back to these times, I remember only an overwhelming atmosphere of welcome. A wish to whole-heartedly invite you in and help, if they could. Amazing experiences. Unexpected and delightful. Not from all, but enough. In the process, I guess, I became a little more European. Less willing to acknowledge boundaries between people. For this experience, I am truly thankful.
In return, I have opened my heart to overseas visitors and welcomed them, because that is how it works. We work together.
Now, I know that we are still living in a European country. We can’t simply pick up our isles and wade off through the oceans to another location. (Although if we do, could we choose somewhere with a lower rainfall and slightly warmer and more reliable summers) We are still European. It’s just that the UK have opted to interact on our own terms. How easy this will be, I really don’t know. Less welcoming as a nation, maybe. Less able to be there when we are most needed. More than likely. And vice versa.
Something tells me that it does not change how we will greet and be greeted by our European neighbours. After the intial shock at least.
While the referendum outcome is not binding, I don’t think anyone believes that everything is going to stay exactly the same. Uncertainty alone will bring change.
I’m not going to get into the big question here about whether this referendum should have happened at all. It did. That cannot be changed.
Returning to the point of my letter. Democracy has happened. We live in a country where people can vote and it does make a difference. People who spend time deciding, have as much right to vote as those that flipped a coin, and everyone between these two extremes. It doesn’t matter how the voter reached their decisions, everyone eligible has the chance to vote. (Unless they forget to register)
I don’t usually let on to you how I vote. I try and provide you with a balanced view in our discussions. Trying to show all angles, so you can decide. Exposing the truth behind some of the sound bites. Teaching you to question and not accept at face value.
You haven’t yet reached the age where you can enter the polling station for the first time, but I hope I am showing you how to make a decision. Your own decision. A well thought out opinion which means that you will not regret a single vote you cast.
Your loving Mother
The quilt block in no 54 “The Kitchen Woodbox” from the Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt. This is part of my Dear Daughter quilt project. One quilt block for one letter, until I’m ready to hand over the finished quilt to my daughter.
There is nothing like the word competition on a correspondence from school, to put me in a dilemma. I am competitive. Its true. Feels like I’ve revealed an ugly side of myself, but it’s true. I’ve learnt to rein it in now that I am older, but given half a chance I pull out all the stops and go for it. Big time! There are certain members of the family who still refuse to play a board game with me.
Then there are the children. My maternal instincts kick in to protect them. Words such as “failure” and “hurt” creep in. I don’t believe in competitions where everyone walks away with a medal. Life is not like that and it seems cruel to set this standard, but at the same time I hate to see them lose.
So it is a fine balance. They need to learn how to win, how to lose and how to be a good friend. So here are the mantras that we use to deal with competitions:
It’s not the winning, it’s the joining in. Taking part is fun, or it should be. If you don’t enter then there is no chance of winning.
Not everyone can win. Next time it may be your turn. Look to see what the winners did differently and remember for next time.
(have mother take photos to study later)
Lose gracefully. This is a life skill in its own right and the good parent in me sees this as reason enough to join in. Bursting in to tears changes nothing. Nor does declaring loudly that the parents must have helped a lot. No! Congratulate the winner and move on.
(murmuring under breath that you’ll beat them next time)
Win with grace. Whoop! Whoop! Fabulous that you won, but don’t forget your friends have feelings too.
Keep positive. There is always next time.
Do your best.
Each year the children bring back a bag of bulbs from our local gardening club. The idea is to plant them and bring them on for the Spring show. Fortunately, there are other classes in the show to enter, as we have failed to produce a single flowering bulb in the eight years.
My competitive nature surfaces enough to nudge them to adopt competitive strategies. I can’t help myself. Over the years, I have learnt to step back. I’m there to help, but the children realise that there is little glory in winning if someone else did your best for you.
Both TF and BL entered a couple of classes at the Spring show this weekend. We do each year. They each returned with winning certificates, but most importantly, they had so much fun joining in. They’ve even hinted that they’d like to enter the Summer show.
(Mother rolls up sleeves and flexes competitive muscles)