April 4, 2010

The Things I Get Talked Into...

Friends can be the worst influence and are often the down fall of would be great people.  And since my daughters have become my dearest friends, I see this truth more often than I can count.  They are always talking me into things that leave me shaking my head and saying, "What was I thinking?"

Seriously, though.  One thing I love about my girls is this.  When I was growing up and I wanted to try something new, there was always someone to tell me why I couldn't or why it wouldn't work or why I was destined to fail.  I grew into a person who was content to play it safe because the fear of failure became so ingrained in my being.

As I approached adult hood I started noticing how children develop their parents fears and likes and dislikes.  A simple observation will illustrate this for you.  How often do you hear a child say they do not like a food that they have never even tried?  A little investigation and you will find that their parents often do not care for that food and before even giving it a fair shot, the child has already been trained to dislike it also.

The same is true with fears.  Children do not naturally have fear.  We train it into them.  Children, you can observe for yourself, have God given instincts that tell them when to be fearful, but otherwise are born with a desire to try new things and go for "adventure."  By the time they reach toddler hood, though, we have taught them to be scared of this and that by instilling our own, often unwarranted, fears into them.

And growing up in my family, that was a lot.  My mother, a very fearful person, taught us to fear just about everything from thunder and lightening to scissors and all strangers we might ever encounter.  When I started having my own children, I made a conscious decision to not thwart their daring side but to rather direct it the best I could and encourage them to try things that struck their fancy.  Of course, I tried to steer them in a direction that might bring them to success safely, but otherwise, I try to stay out of the picture as much as possible in an effort to not discourage them.  In my 18 years as a mom, I have enjoyed standing at a safe distant and observing and watching them triumph again and again.   

Not to pat myself on the back by any means, because I have messed up time and time again in this parenting business, but I think I must have done an ok job.  Now that my girls are essentially grown, they refuse to hear the words, "It can't be done." or "That would be a pain to do."  I regularly find myself in the middle of some kind of disaster area watching creativity and genius happening.  In the end I am always glad I went along for the ride... even though, it often becomes expensive and tiring at times.   

Do you remember this?  In that bounty Brianna found a pattern for a dress that she instantly fell in love with.  No mind that it was a size 18 and Brianna is a size 4. As a matter of fact our collective sizes only add up to an 8 or so.

Ever since my girls were small, the holiday seasons always began with me choosing a pattern and fabric to sew them outfits.  Now that they sew themselves, it has become our tradition to spend the week before Easter and Christmas sewing together.  Everyone knows that everything else will most likely go by the wayside and Allen usually tries to contribute by making dinner once or twice along the way.

With this pattern in hand we headed to Joann's fabric in the beginning of March.  We had just watched some vintage home videos from the early 1960's that my dad had transferred from 8mm and we were inspired by the beautiful dresses my grandmother and her sisters wore to the many weddings that grandpa had recorded for posterity.

We chose matching organza and ribbon embroidered taffeta and satins in five pastel colors for our project.  Needless to say, I could have bought dresses off the rack for less than the fabric cost.  Then we started the daunting task of altering the pattern from a size 18 to fit a size 6, 4 and 2.  Hmmm.  It took us the better part of a day just to do that.  It didn't help that we liked the sleeve on this one, the bodice on this one, the overlay on this one, the skirt on this one and the embellishments on this one.  Essentially, we ended up designing our own dress.  Ellie's and Emma's were slightly better as we were going with the bones of their patterns anyway.  After eight hours we got the first pieces laid out. 

Only to discover I had done the calculations wrong and bought about double the taffeta we actually needed.  Did I ever mention math is not my strong point?  After that, we decided I would make mine first so we could determine if we needed to make any more adjustments in the pattern.  I figured if someone had to do without a dress, I'd rather it be me.  My dress went together very smoothly.  Except where I got mixed up by all the jumping around between designs and ended up forgetting to put my sleeves on.  I hate picking out, especially when my stitching looks really good, which does not always happen, so I will be wearing a sleeveless dress on Sunday. 

When I was finished mine was a perfect fit, except for the missing sleeves and the long waist.  At 5 feet two, I need to stick with petites and in all the worry about getting the bust line and hips the right size didn't even think about shortening the waist.  With that bit of information on hand, we were able to make the perfect adjustments for Kaitlin, who is shorter than me. 

Brianna is about 5 inches taller than us and the original bodice length fit her beautifully. 
With all that said and done, they sewed theirs together and we were all thrilled with the results.  Allen said we reminded him of a box full of marshmallow peeps. 
 He means that nicely.  
With a busy week behind us and a busy week looming, I decided to relinquish the sewing rights to Samuel's vest and knickers to Kaitlin and Brianna.  As we began to lay out his pattern, we discovered the instructions were printed in French.  Using my rusty French and knowledge of sewing, I interpreted for them and turned my attention to Elisabeth's bit of pink meringue. 
Along the way, Brianna helped Emma with her dress.  I think in actuality, Brianna sewed most of Emma's, as parts of it became very complicated for a novice seamstress.  But she is letting Emma have some of the credit.☺

So, Friday night, I put the last button on.  And to Samuel's joy the final tucks and adjustments were made to Samuel's suit. 
 And we can rest comfortable knowing that the family will be fully dressed in their new Spring outfits this Sunday.

Well, they say, "All's well that ends well."  Just the same, with all that fun behind us, I can't help but shake my head and say, "I am not sure how I let myself get talked into these things, but I sure am glad I do." 

Happy Sewing!



  1. Those dresses are absolutely beautiful! I must say I'm a little cowardly when it comes to trying new fabrics. I tend to stick with cotton and cotton blends. Taffeta terrifies me!!
    Great job everyone!

  2. Hope is right.....WOW! You are amazing! God has blessed you all with an amazing talent!

    Great job, ladies!

    I am so impressed! :> )


  3. Ok, I hate sewing, but the end result almost makes me want to try again. So beautiful! Good job and what good memories you will have of all your outfits! Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

  4. Gorgeous! I LOVE the dresses and colors! Y'all must've had quite a week....

  5. Oh my gosh...you are so awesome...I haven't yet sewn anything that people have to/should wear outside! (As for your message about what we pass along, I could tell you tales about being discouraged from sewing.) Anyway, I think you all did great and you inspire me to keep pushing forward...