A particular three year old had a birthday a few days back. Now, as she patiently explains to anyone willing to listen, we have a 7, 5, 4, and 1 year old in our family, not a 7, 5, 3, and 1 year old that her mother continually makes the mistake of blurting out when asked. I fear it will be far too soon before I’ll have to update my mental model yet again.
Four is such a magical time for my kids, one of my favorite developmental ages. They start playing together instead of side-by-side; their fine motor skills become more skilled and steady; their whole imaginative life takes off, in particular this little one who has always always been drawn to dramatic play. It has been and intense and joyful period of growth.
Birthdays in our family of six have taken on a slower, gentler pace through the years, as I suppose happens in any growing family. Not only are the daily demands different than when we only had one child, but we’ve discovered what works for our family and what doesn’t, and our needs have also decreased, since we’ve hit this age twice before and the gifts that have fit us best are still around and being loved and played with by all. So gift piles have become smaller and more thoughtful, with time spent on making and experiences over stuff.
For this year’s gift, I found this pattern for a stuffed mama cat on Craftsy that would be just about perfect for my little full-o-loving mini-mama who mothers all her toys with her big heart. Kindly remember that I am still quite a novice when it comes to sewing, so when I found the pattern a week before her birthday, I thought I would have plenty of time. And when I actually started it the day before her birthday, I thought it would only take three, maybe four hours.
I was so. very. wrong.
It took me until 4am. But… I got it done. Here she is, sitting pretty with her closed off skirt, which holds…
four little kitties; three littles and one baby, just like us. You’ll note that these little kitties are naked in this picture, because I simply ran out of steam and had to get to sleep.
She’s made out of linen, which was a little tricky for me to work with. It frayed in a few spots, but I think I figured out how to adjust the stitch size to prevent it. Also, I worked a few of the kitties on the bias, which helped significantly.
The apron and dress were made with some japanese cotton linen blends; the matroyshka print is discontinued and I can’t find any more bits of it which makes me sad because I really found it so dear. There a bit of funkiness you’ll see going on with the bodice which is completely due to my inexperience and the time of morning when I tried to decipher the instructions. I knew I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t figure it out so I sewed together what I had and the next day (after three coffees and a few hours of rest) I wrote to Dorie, the creator of the pattern, and the writer of the equally fabulous tumblingblocks blog, hoping that she might be able to decipher what I did wrong. Not only did she respond within two hours, she took the time to walk me through making the bodice, step-by-step with kindness and incredible grace. Then, to top it off, she also updated her blog with an extra little bodice tutorial for us sad and confused newbies. Needless-to-say, after her lovely email I read through the instructions again, and everything was clear as day. It really was my inexperience getting the best of me.
Anyway, the bodice needs a bit of fixing. Luckily I have just enough fabric left to remake it (there was some rather unfortunate cutting which prevents me from reusing the pieces in the one I already sewed… eek!) and that’s on the list to finish up before the week is over.
After the older two went to school and the baby went down for her nap, my husband took the newly minted four year old out for a little Daddy-Daughter time, and I had just enough time to attempt to make the kitties some clothes. Being as tired as I was, I decided to forgo extra time in front of the machine, and grabbed some felt I had lying around to cut and tack together a few pieces. Worked like a charm! I wish I had used some decorative stitching or rick-rack, but there’s time for that after the holidays. For now these work perfectly. Plus, I don’t have any rick-rack lying around. I did, however, have 1/4″ bias tape that I believe I purchased in 2002. Let me say that the most difficult and nerve wracking part of sewing for me was attaching that 1/4″ bias tape. It was ripped out many, many times. Next time I’m using 1/2″.
She played with that cat (Hey look! A secret POCKET!) for a good ten minutes while I took pictures. She was so excited when I told her that I made it. I can’t imagine it will be too much longer before mama-mades no longer elicit such emotion, so I am reveling in it for as long as I can.
Of course, Mama Cat and her Three Little Kittens were forgotten (as well as every other gift provided by her loving grandparents and aunts and uncles) as soon as the playmobile set was unwrapped.
As I said earlier, experience taught us what they love… and gives us the knowledge to have her open that gift last
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Under the Table and Dreaming