Harmlessly cute nursery rhyme gender stereotyping or not*, this is a post I have hesitated to write for about six months. If you want to know why, feel free to scroll to the end - and there's a free picture of some slugs! Once you've read it, I hope you'll forgive me for starting with yet more pictures of L wearing yet another remixed popover sundress.
This one has pom poms and is made with some lovely spotty pink cotton that Ilse kindly donated to the swap at our Belgian bloggers' meet. At L's
Here's the back detail:
Close examination of late-August hedgerows can only mean one thing...
Yum yum yum.
While going through my Scandinavian photo dump, I also discovered the following pictures, taken in July somewhere and never shared as intended. While we're on the subject of little dresses, I might as well add them here. It's another remake of an Oliver & S pattern, because I am coming to appreciate how really great their designs are, not to mention the instructions. (And by the way I am now taking bets on how long I will resist their new playtime dress, tunic and leggings. Current odds: not very long).
Anyway, roller skate dress #2:
Like my classy shiny sellotape there? I am too cheap to buy pretty washi :-)
For me it's the details and finishing that make Oliver & S so good; this dress is possibly nicer inside than out (I'm not actually that enthusiastic about how the big print works on a little dress, but hey). I topstitched the neckline and armholes because in the end I was getting quite irritated with how the lining keeps peeking out of the first roller skate dress I made.
I wanted pictures in our local botanical gardens, before even realising they had specially put on purple flowers for us. Win.
Regular readers (hello my lovelies!) might have noticed that I've made quite a few dresses for L this spring/summer: here, here, here and two here. It's not really exceptional - many bloggers seem to make this kind of a kid wardrobe weekly - but it's not my normal sewing behaviour. I also don't usually splurge on kid patterns or fabric, which I have done recently.
Unfortunately, this didn't come about through a happy accident of clothing needs and sewing inspirations.
It happened because of the sudden, negative body consciousness of my beautiful five year old.
We all know how it is: kids can be mean, and schools these days are rightly hot on healthy eating. Ours bans all chocolate, sweets, sodas and the rest, and teaches the kids about how to eat well. The fact that their teachers help get my kids on board with that is something I hugely appreciate. But, it mixed up in my daughter's head with some nasty name-calling, and came out in the form of:
"Mummy, is my tummy too fat?"
And a lot of sobs.
And this suddenly slotted together with things she'd been saying over the few weeks before, and I had an awful realisation of what had really been bothering her.
And, well, I don't know if this is a girl thing, really: in a class of 5-year olds, I can imagine the same happening to the boy who happened to be chubbier than the rest. But what I do think is a girl thing is that when she came to me and said that, my shock and despair was not that she had to ask, but that she had to ask it so soon.
There are so many other things I could say here. The only one I'll mention is the constant nightmare of trouser-shopping for a girl with a stomach and a bum. It seems that all kids are now supposed to be slim-hipped. And while I was panicking, desperately trying to think what to say to this beautiful daughter of mine, I realised: at least half the battle is that feeling of being comfortable in your clothes. We all feel awkward and often yes, too fat, when we're trying to carry off clothes made to fit the shape of someone else. Right?
It's how and why I got into sewing for myself. And it's exactly how and why I sewed for L this summer. She got excited about the fabrics, she got excited about the clothes, and we talked about all of it just enough for her to forget the name-calling which thankfully disappeared soon after. I'm pretty sure that what did it was not just her parents' love and reassurances, or her teacher's extra attentiveness, but L herself, the day she proudly walked into class wearing one of her skater dresses. Because she feels good wearing them, and sod the rest.
While my hand in it was probably nowhere near as significant as I'd like to think, it makes me very happy to know that with a bit of love and distraction, we were able to help this whole thing blow over. Sadly, I'm pretty sure the issue will come back - but hopefully not for much, much longer, and with us in full knowledge that we have the weapons to fight back.
And as for what little girls are made of... who remembers the rest of that rhyme?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
On our first morning at this campsite, G and I were intrigued to see L and T spend about 40 minutes absorbed together, playing with something on the ground at the other end of the field. It turned out to be the above.
It's a house for the 'family' of slugs they had painstakingly collected from the pathways: the leaves are beds, decorated with flowers, of course, and with roofs to keep the rain out (there is actually a slug inside each one, too). The grass cuttings are for their dinner.
The pride with which they showed it to us and explained what the slugs were all up to, well - I almost came over all emotional. Such imaginative, curiosity-fuelled, slug-focused brother-sister collaboration.
In the real world, that's the kind of thing all little kids are made of.
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* but I don't find it either harmless or cute.
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