Monday, July 9, 2012

Ahnalin Sewed Her First Dress! (or, Learning To Pick My Battles)


This summer, I decided to give my daughters
some special assignments.

In addition to the usual sleeping-in-late,
going to the beach,
library, 
playing outside with friends,
lemonade stands,
and other summer past times,
my girls get to accomplish some things!

Each of my girls must:
1. Write a story.
2. Learn a song on the piano or guitar to accompany themselves.
and 
3. Sew a dress that they will wear.

So far, Ahnalin has learned to play
"You Are My Sunshine" 
on the piano.

She sings it hundreds of times a day,
much to the unending JOY  chagrin 
of her big sister.

But she also sewed her dress!!!



Last Tuesday, 
Ahnalin and I went to Joann Fabrics 
to buy some thread and look at the Mccall's pattern books.

McCall's patterns were on sale for 99 cents each.
 Ahnalin had been mooning over a certain jumper pattern
for quite some time,
and had decided that she wanted to make the jumper herself.

While sitting at the pattern table,
a large group of ladies sat down and grabbed the books.

One of them kept "shushing" Ahnalin!
 Ahnalin was actually behaving beautifully,
so it was very rude for this lady to do this.

The lady had already grabbed the McCall's book
away from Ahnalin, telling her that they were not for children.
she said they were only for "real seamstresses".


I informed the lady that Ahnalin was an "award winning seamstress"!

She won a Blue Ribbon for her quilt 
2 years ago at the county fair.
That makes her a "real seamstress" 
for sure!

And then the store manager walked by
and said hello to Ahnalin, by name,
and asked her what her next project was.
Ahnalin proudly showed her the pattern
and told her what fabric she was using.

 So after this little showdown,
you can bet I was going to let Ahnalin buy her pattern!

Off we go, leaving the nasty ladies to 
hog the pattern books.

Ahnalin had been begging to use a pink and white
gingham print from my stash,
for many years. 

So, I mistakenly assumed that she planned to 
sew the red gingham dress (View D),
because of it's similarity to the picture on the pattern.

But NO WAY!

She wanted to sew the view with 
the pear fabric (View B)
because she loved the curve of the bodice,
and the pretty pockets.

I explained to her that I felt View D would be simpler
for her to sew, with straighter lines,
and gathers instead of pleats..


However she had her heart set. 
She reminded me that when I first started sewing,
I chose the most difficult dress I could find,
because I assumed everything would seem
easy after that. 

Why, oh why did I tell her that?
I mean, it was true, but I was 14 when I did that,
not 7.


She also told me that she fully intended to finish her dress,
so she could wear it to church on Sunday.

Oh my!

I was flashing back to all those Saturdays in 
high school, when I would start sewing in the 
afternoon and finish a dress to wear to church the next morning.

She cut her dress out on Friday and when she started to get 
frustrated, I told her it was time for bed.

Saturday morning, she was up with the sun,
begging to work on her dress.

After struggling with the pocket,
she decided her dress would be fine without it.

This was not accomplished without 
a few screaming fits from her,
and I had to really make every effort to hold myself together.

I knew how badly she wanted to finish her dress,
and she wanted it to be perfect.

She is SOOOOOOO much like me!
Which is why I tend to jump to react
when she freaks out. 

I reminded her that if she had chosen
the simpler design, she may have been less frustrated.

Yes, it was an "I told you so" moment,
and it wasn't helpful.

She picked out trim and buttons
from my stash. 
Watermelon is her favorite fruit,
so once she saw those, her choice was made.

And I think the lime green trim was chosen because
it is my favorite color and she was desperate to 
please me after her nasty tantrum. 


Part of me,
a very, very big part of me,
was tempted to tell her that because of her horrid tantrum,
she could not finish the dress today.

But another part of me,
the part that is working on giving grace,
and showing love even when I want to react in anger,
knew that she NEEDED to finish this dress. 

And she NEEDED that one-on-one time with me,
where I was not working on things for clients,
or even sewing a dress for her. 

She NEEDED to finish this dress
to prove to herself that she could do it.


There are areas in this dress that are not perfect.

She is a perfectionist and so am I.

She freaks out when something is not perfect.

But in a strange way,
I had to show her that striving for perfection,
when it leads to extreme frustration,
is not good. 

She made close friends with her seam ripper, 
which is good.

But some curves were not as round
as she wanted.
I told her that self control (not screaming and 
throwing the dress across the room) 
was more important that perfect curves.

That was hard for me. 
I am not sure who is learning more in this process,
Ahnalin or me. 


But she finished her dress!

And she loves it.

She is already planning the next dress.


I am so proud of my little one,
for the achievements in sewing lessons
and the harder lessons in life. 



Happy sewing!


17 comments:

Carolyn said...

Way to go Ahnalin!!! You did a fabulous job on your jumper. I can't wait to see the next one!

Colleen said...

Oh, Sivje,
This post had me in tears. What wonderful lessons you are both learning. Such grace. I learned a good lesson from you today.
Colleen

Anonymous said...

This grammie is very proud of her daughter and her granddaughter. The jumper is darling just like Ahnalin. I love you both so much.

Meredith said...

Beautiful dress Ahnalin and great lessons for us all!! Contests on your finish and can't wait to see what you choose to make next!

Meredith said...

Beautiful dress Ahnalin and great lessons for us all!! Congrats on your finish and can't wait to see what you choose to make next!

Christiana said...

Learning to sew is a journey, congrats on your first milestone. Looking forward to seeing your future projects.

Christiana
sewamusing.blogspot.com

Jane Steen said...

Well done Ahnalin and Sivje! And how, may I ask, is a child to become a "proper seamstress" if he or she isn't allowed to dream over the pattern books in the store?

Ellie Inspired said...

Great job Ahnalin!! I love how the Joann's employee knew her by name. Perfect timing to put those mean ladies in their place! Can't wait to see what she makes next!

Debby said...

She did an excellent job. I can't ee any mistakes.
Mean old lady.
MY Mom was a seamstress for Airstream trailers....those shiney ones. She never would teach me to sew. She also would not let me cook because I would mess up her kitchen. She to this day says that I made a mess and she wouldn't let me.....she thinks it's funny. Mean old mom, hah.

Sewconsult said...

The dress looks perfectly perfect to me! Wonderful lessons and such a cute designer and seamstress.
Beckie in Brentwood, TN

Jan M said...

Brings back such memories of sewing with my mother during summer vacation!
I cannot help but notice how straight that gingham print is at the bodice seamline. She did a better job than others who have sewn much longer. She looks so proud in her beautiful new dress!

ShirleyC said...

You're a good mommy, and she did a great job!

Emily said...

Oh. my. goodness. First kudos to you for teaching your daughters to sew. Second been there done that as far as racing against the clock on Saturday to finish a dress or skirt for church on Sunday. And lastly, Ahnalin did an excellent job! Way to show that mean lady she is in fact a "real seamstress"!

Love that you have been able to pass on your love of sewing to her. (My mom did the same for me and I am really grateful now that I am older...)

Eileen said...

What a great job by mom and daughter!! It just makes me so mad to hear about the women (I was going to say ladies but they don't meet my criteria for that word) at Joann's!

Lynn said...

What a great story - Congratulations to both of you!

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

This is so wonderful! I LOVE the dress, the colors and curves and buttons. I also LOVE your story and the poetic way you told it with so many charming photos. I'd say it was a day of creative struggle and victory that neither of you will ever forget. Yay!

BarbaraShowell said...

The dress is beautiful and would be an accomplishment for a much older and experienced sewer. I loved the Jo anne's story too. Mean people!