Saturday, January 14, 2012

Things I Forgot To Mention... about the sunflower outfit

Did you like Elsie's outfit from the last post?

I forgot to mention that I totally made it.

Well, I made it cute.

Before I go any further in writing this I'd like to take you back about twenty years.

To a Wal-Mart.

In Dawsonville Georgia.

You see kids, back in those days Wal-Marts were not "super". They closed at 9 pm (earlier than that on Sundays), and sold a somewhat limited range of items. (Limited here meaning that you could only buy a shot-gun, tennis balls, a fish-tank, some fish to go in your fish-tank, and some cheap blue jeans- unlike today where you can get all those things AND a ham with Paula Deen's face on it... at 2 am.) Also, back in those days (1991) they ALL sold fabric too- which brings me back to where I'd like to take you- the fabric aisle of a Wal-Mart in 1991: the place where I bought my first fabric. I can't remember what my Memaw (re: Grandmother) had brought me there to buy- in all likelihood some of the aforementioned cheap blue jeans- but I was not leaving without a yard of what I considered to be the most beautiful fabric I'd ever seen. It was red and white gingham- dress weight- with bright blossoming sunflowers printed all over. Memaw asked me what I was going to make with it, and I said, "Everything." I wanted a dress made out of that material. I wanted a shirt covered in those glorious sunflowers. I wanted my bedspread to look like an autumn picnic. And a hat. And shoes, too. Memaw asked me how much of it I wanted and I spread out my arms, and she must have misunderstood me, because a gesture which in I meant to infer a measurement of "infinity" she took as "about a yard". Clearly she didn't understand my deep love of, and grandiose plans for "the most beautiful fabric ever made". Still, to my six year old eyes, a full yard of the stuff looked pretty darn close to infinity. Over that Summer I fretted over what to make. Barbie got a dress made out of the stuff- that goes without saying- then, realizing I didn't have quite enough to upholster my entire room, I sewed a little pillow in the shape of a heart. At this point a third of it was gone! I had to be realllly discerning with what I made next- fortunately that is where my Brad's aunt Johnnie came in. In my eyes there was absolutely nothing she couldn't make, so when she offered to babysit us one day at her house I brought my precious precious sunflower gingham along. Like Memaw before her, she asked me what I wanted to make out of it, and I showed her a picture I had drawn- kind of a rudimentary pattern. On the back was a picture of me wearing the finished product- kind of an insane sunflower covered wedding dress, with a matching giant sunflower covered hat. She looked at the fabric with my jagged zigzag cuts in it where Barbie's dress and my "heart" shaped pillow had come from and broke the news to me- there wasn't enough there do to much with, but she might just be able to get a little sundress out of it for me. I consoled myself to the fact that there would be no giant matching hat and entrusted her ever skillful hands with my prized material. What came out of it was no cinderella-at-the-ball-looking-insane wedding dress, but it was the sweetest little sundress my heart had ever seen. I wore the heck out of it. My mom even bought me a hat with a big silk sunflower glued to the front of it to go with it. Aunt Johnnie put the scraps into a little plastic bag for me, and I kept those scraps in my dresser- I knew someday I would have something I could do with them, but it had to be reallllly good and special to warrant the use of my beloved sunflower gingham.

Years went by, and I moved out, and moved around a dozen more times. Over the years I saw most of my belongs get sold, broken, lost, given away, thrown away, but a few things remained safe in my parent's basement. Then this year I moved back to Georgia and my mom asked me to clean out her basement. That was when I found my tiny bag of scraps that brought back the memory of my very first sewing projects inspired by a material I adored. I emptied the bag and the contents were so few that sewn completely together, you could barely get one quilt square out of it, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it: make something for Elsie. I'd waited years to find something that merited it's use and the time had finally come. I took a pair of plain boys overalls, and stitched it over the bottom cuffs, having to "Frankenstien stitch" in the back a little because I didn't have quite enough of one solid piece, so I had to put a few scraps together in order to go all the way around. I put the last tiny scrap across the front pocket, and finally sewed on a bow made of matching ribbon I had lying around. I knew the outfit wouldn't be complete without a matching hat or something of the sort, so I disassembled a big silk sunflower and stitched it to a strip I cut out of an old red t-shirt to make a headband. Elsie probably has 100 outfits, but this one is my favorite. .

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