Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Exacting Specifications

If you have ever made anything for one of your kids, then you know exactly what I mean. Whenever I start a sewing project for a family member, I start by looking internally for the strength to have it rejected. It has to be about the process. You have to enjoy it. At some point, my kids are going to give me that sideways look that says “Mom, you’ve just really missed the boat this time.”

It hasn’t happened yet. Someday, it will.

In the meantime, I take great pleasure in performing minor miracles with textiles. I can take my children into the fabric store and talk to them about color, texture, washing instructions. We talk about how the piece will be used. They mostly enjoy looking at all the buttons, but my son can tell you the difference between tulle and satin, and discriminate between different types of corduroy. I never mentioned that most men cannot describe fabric in much detail.

For most special occasions, I make something for my kids. I posted about the dress I made for Gladys for the pig roast. I notice I never posted about the collared shirt I made for Andrew for the same event – the one with the pigs on motorcycles. He wore it to school on black & pink day. Yes, my husband already has a couple crazy collared shirts, only after he begged me for over a year. (He wears them. Gasp!).

It made perfect sense that I would make a jumper for Gladys’ first day of school, so I did. I took her to the fabric store on Andrew’s first day of school (I posted about that day, you would have never guessed I made it to the fabric store too, but you wouldn’t have believed me). She picked out bright pink baby cord for a jumper. She wanted hearts. She wanted lots of colors.

“Mom, I want green, and red, and orange, and brown too. I want all the colors.”


“Hearts. I like hearts.”

Her favorite little stretch pants are covered in brightly colored hearts. They became the perfect inspiration. Of course, it is my job to take all of her specifications and come up with something that is actually really nice. I want her to like it, but I also want me to like it. Sometimes, that is a bit of a challenge. I page through catalogues and go on-line to check out new designs. Then, I try to find a pattern that is anywhere close to what I want. This time, I had to alter the pattern quite a bit. Pattern companies don’t seem to move quite as quickly as styles. I always change something. On the other hand, I am just a little nutty, so perhaps there is more challenge in changing things just a bit. Read it how you will.

So, this is the jumper I made for Gladys’ first day of school. She loves it. She named her hearts after each member of the family.

While in San Francisco, I had the pleasure of wandering through Britex, on my list of favorite fabric stores. I bought a few little things in the remnant section, as if I don’t have enough to do. Today, my very good friend here asked me to help her with her daughter’s costume. Tomorrow, we will go shopping together for her daughter and also for my son’s Halloween costume, a scary green monster. One that will “scare everyone in our neighborhood.”

I feel certain that my kids instinctively know what I like and pick something outside of my expertise. I used green fur once in the mid-80’s. I recall that it was a hassle. If it is going to be a green monster, I had better start tomorrow. I am working on Gladys to pick something easy (like maybe her costume from last year, which is fabulous). George will not be given a choice. You do have to talk first.

We have a tradition in our house that I “unveil” the costumes just before our first Halloween party. My husband and I pull out a big mirror and dress the children with their eyes closed. They open their eyes at the same time, to see themselves and each other magically transformed. It is a minor miracle of textiles, with a bit of psychological advantage thrown in.

So, I will tell you exactly what my sister will tell me when I talk to her on the phone. She is by far a more accomplished seamstress. I can hear her teasingly sarcastic voice now.

“Right. Good luck with that.”

Yeah, I know. Next year I’ll just buy them . . . no, I won’t. I won’t until I finally get that sideways glance from my kids.

It will come. Someday, it will.


Indy said...

Kyle wants an owl costume. My MIL used to sew. She looked at me and said knowing that I cannot (or don't care) to sew "How are you going to pull that one off?" I told her, I am sure there is an owl costume somewhere on the internet and I will find it.

I wish I liked the process. I want to be one of the people that can sew a costume or curtains. It isn't in my bones.

The dress is adorable.

Badass Geek said...

The dress, and Gladys, are cute!

OHmommy said...

You HAVE to read my post.

I am the one that convinced Lola to be a pink witch after buying a store bought costume.

She doesn't really want to be a witch anymore. She wants to be Clara from the nutcracker. Even YOU do not have the time or energy to sew THAT costume.

Jessica said...

I grew up with a surrgate family as my own family was a bit crazy :) I spent all my time with my best friend's family and they were cooky, fun, and fabulous. The mother treated me as her own and I was also the recipient of her amazing sewing talents. We had costumes for EVERYTHING. All the kids wore matching traveling outfits that were appropriate to our destination. Every school dance was weeks of preparation picking out patterns and fabric. My girlfriend desperately wanted to go to the GAP and buy a "normal outfit." I on the other hand would sit in "Mom's" sewing room at any cost to watch her transform yards of nothing into my fantasies. Then, when it came to THE biggest clothing choice of wedding...guess who I called to make my gown? Your kids may go through a time when they kick and scream a bit about "mom's outfits" but they will treasure them all in the end.

scatterbrain said...

Very creative - It looks sweet on Gladys.

You're lucky you enjoy sewing - they'll probably fondly remember each item when they're older.

I taught myself how to sew (mostly soft furnishings) out of necessity. I'm good, but loathe it.

In the UK, a "jumper" is a woolen knitted top pulled over the head (no buttons or zips);-)

I also peek at your blog every day E.M. As your children are still small, your writing takes me down memory lane of when my own son was little and reminds me to "soak in that unfettered love".

enthalpymama said...

OHmommy, I have to admit, I may keep my children ignorant of the nutcracker for a little while longer. (smile) It is all about time. (I could do it, but you would have to adopt my children for a week). We just came back from the fabric store. Gladys seems to be leaning towards a "rainbow monster". That should be interesting, unless I can convince her into something else. Quick!! What's easier than a rainbow monster? What IS a rainbow monster anyway?

CRigg said...

Cute! I so wish I had a skill/talent like sewing. I wouldn't be ordering my Star Wars costumes for the twins otherwise...

Rachel said...

that is soooo cute! I want one for my little one...I would love to learn to sew unfortunately I was never taught so I can't even sew a button...great talent you have!