Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cinderella and the Monkey

As I said in my last post, my creative juices have been in high gear over the past month or so. And that isn't always the case. I can successfully stifle any creative urges I feel (besides writing which seems to be with me all the time) pretty easily by taking a nap. Besides working on my plant chair, I decided a few weeks ago that I'd make Halloween costumes for Emily and Lucy. Emily, at four years old, is obsessed with princesses and can name them all proudly. She is a very girly girl and wants to wear dresses every day. It's adorable and what's a grandma to do but feed that obsession? Certainly I don't want to be the one to discourage her interests at this tender age!

Lucy is two and has a floppy terry cloth monkey ("
mah nee" in Lucy-speak) who is her best friend and most favorite lovey. He's a generic monkey, not a Curious George sort that seem to be popular at the moment. We have rewarded her monkey obsession with a monkey backpack, monkey shirts, monkey underwear as motivation to go potty and a couple larger sized monkeys that she loves almost as much as original Mah nee. She knows all about princesses too because of Emily's addiction but the monkey thing is much much cuter.

So off I went to JoAn Fabrics, armed with coupons and a head full of steam. I spent a wonderful couple hours there, first finding patterns and then selecting the exactly right fabrics.

I am not an accomplished seamstress and my projects are restricted to things for little girls. I'm too critical to sew things for me to wear as they j
ust never turn out the way I have them pictured. And I'm too impatient to do everything exactly by the book so most projects for me just don't turn out well. When Erin was little, I made overalls and dresses for her as well as a clown costume that we still have and really enjoyed those projects. I've made blanket sleepers and sleep sacks for Emily and Lucy but otherwise my sewing machine sits in the basement, sometimes for months, between sewing sessions.

When Erin and I received our sewing machin
es several years ago*, we took some quilting lessons. I enjoyed the exercise but the patience thing gets me and I'm not interested in sewing little squares together all that much. Fun, yeah, but my need for quicker gratification kicks in and I'm a goner.

*it was a hallmark week for the little sewing shop in our town as Johnnie (who was still working at the time) bought three of the same Pfaff machines within days of each other, one for me, one for Erin and one for Holly. Erin has traded up her machine since then twice because of her interest in quilting. Holly and I are still working on our original models.

Anyway. I came marching home with the materials and patterns, excited to be working on these costumes and knowing how much the girls would love them. Surprisingly, the monkey costume was relatively complex and time consuming to sew.There was the whole fake fur issue with watching the nap and sewing through several layers of thick fabric. The fabric shed like crazy and my Pfaff and the surrounding area was covered with dark brown fuzz for weeks. My clothes were covered too.

I didn't start Emily's costume until this past Monday, shortly after finding out from Erin that the girls had a fall celebration with her MOMS club buddies yesterday (the 23rd). Um, OK. Guess I better get cracking. While her dress was less complex, the design itself was kinda fussy and the material was slippery and sometimes difficult to sew on but I just didn't focus on that and proceeded slowly lest I get overly impatient or discouraged. There are a couple oopses in it but most are things that no one would ever notice except me.

I intended for both costumes to be played with and used for dress up and make believe, not to be worn a couple times to parties and then stored away. While they fit, let the kids play with them to their hearts' content. I'm comfortable with the work and deliberately reinforced seams and tried to sew them sturdily so they won't fall apart. I'm sure they'll get dirty and banged up but that's the best part, I think. If they let the girls imagine and have fun, it's so worth it to me.

Anyway, here are pictures of the costumes -- scans of the pattern envelope (both are Simplicity patterns by the way, if anyone is thinking of tackling these themselves) and then pictures of the girls in their finery.

Organ grinder monkey costume above, Lucy's costume (and monkey friends) below.

Cinderella costume from the pattern envelope above. Emily below, striking a regal pose (with demonic red-eye), twirling* and showing off her sparkly shoes and Easter egg socks.

*any dress must have a great twirl factor, very important when you're four, and this one has been officially approved by Emily.

I didn't bother with things like elbow-length gloves or the headband and we ultimately purchased a Cinderella crown at Target on Friday morning that looks more appropriate than the pink feathery headband. Emily stayed overnight at our house on Thursday and spontaneously and repeatedly thanked me for making her dress and telling me how beautiful it was. While I was just thrilled that she liked it, having her pour heartfelt thanks on me without any prompting was pretty much over the top. You can be assured that I went to bed a very thrilled and satisfied grandma that night!

Because of its fake fur construction, Lucy's costume is too warm to wear for any length of time. The girls don't go trick-or-treating outside, in part because they live in the country and their nearest neighbors are adult Laotians and not all that into the Halloween thing. So she puts the costume on for a while but then it has to come off because she's perspiring like a two year old sumo wrestler.

However, Emily is wearing her costume just about non-stop. She wanted to nap in it yesterday after the party but I vetoed that idea (I had taken them home for naps while Erin and her buds cleaned up after the party). She took it off for her nap and then put it on immediately when she got up.

I've been so flushed with the success with these projects that I'm considering sewing some of the Christmas gifts that we exchange with the kids. We'll see; I hate to get carried way and then having to force myself to finish the projects after the inspiration has evaporated.

1 comment:

Lil Mouse said...

I think its a very cool idea to do these costumes and other fun things for Christmas. An idea for you for next year, we saw a girl with a 'front pack' instead of a back pack and it seemed like it had room for candy to go in it, no dropping your pail or spilling it, parent is able to hold your hand, etc. Might be something you could work on bit by bit for Lucy for next year, and incorporate into a costume. Not sure what the girl was wearing, I think it was a butterfly, but her pack was a 'butt' of tigger with a winnie the pooh head, we didnt go up and inspect it, so sorry, that's about all the info I can give you, but it is something I will personally mull over for next year!