Every now and then I feel the need to rope my family into my historical costuming hobby… but it’s easier said than done. Men’s outfits are relatively straightforward, but getting a 6-year-old to dress up in something she doesn’t want to wear can be tough– and even if you can manage it, watching her go through her day blithely unaware of the various grass stains and other horrors she’s inflicting on your carefully-chosen outfit is just painful. For that reason, I’ve refrained from ever trying to put my daughter in any genuine antiques, or even things that I’ve made with complicated techniques or particularly nice fabrics. I just know she’ll spoil them and I don’t want to spend my day worrying about it instead of enjoying the event.
But what to do when you’re just dying to attend something as a family, in full get-up? You improvise.
Since I spent some time making a light and airy Edwardian picnic dress for myself, I figured that something similar was in order for the kid. While I’d love to make her a dress laden with hand-embroidery and antique insertion lace, as I mentioned before it’s just not in the cards right now– luckily, many extant dresses rely heavily on pre-embroidered fabric for decoration, which is still widely available, so I decided to go that route.
So remember how last year I let my daughter tell me what she wanted her birthday cake to look like? This year I didn’t even have a chance to ask– she handed me a sketch one day and informed me that this was what I’d be making. It had three tiers (!), was decorated with berries and green icing, and had a fake warning on the outside saying that it most certainly did NOT hide any surprises inside… or did it?
Apparently she decided that what she wanted was a hidden pawprint to surprise her guests. It had to be pink, and it had to show only when the cake was cut into. While I had a general idea as to how to get this done, I turned to the internet and was happy to find a tutorial to give me some details as to how it could be accomplished! Here it is:
I’m not going to bother posting too many step-by-step instructions because honestly, the video is pretty good at explaining what to do.
After Elena of Avalor, the next princess my daughter was dying to be was her sister, Isabel.
This one was the easiest of the three dresses– I just found a basic blue dress with puffed sleeves and ruffles (sadly, Primary.com didn’t have anything that worked, so I had to get it on Amazon), and used some gold fabric paint to make the gold trim on the bodice and the swirls on the ruffled parts.
Our family is going to Disneyworld this fall, and my daughter is (of course) really excited about it. Not just the rides and attractions, but the prospect of meeting Disney princesses. When we first booked the tickets, in a fit of recklessness I promised to make her some princess dresses to wear to the park, so here we are. These aren’t going to be full costume-quality dresses– rather, they’re going to be soft and comfortable knit dresses she can play all day in, with some nods to the princess style.
Her very favorite princess right now is Elena of Avalor, so it was a given that one of her dresses would be Elena’s.
For Halloween this year my daughter emphatically declared that she wanted to be a ninjalino. What is a “ninjalino,” you ask?
So there’s this kids’ show called PJ Masks, involving three kids who fight crime at night while wearing outfits that transform from footie pajamas into superhero costumes. The kids fight a rotating series of super-villain kids, one of whom is Night Ninja, and Night Ninja’s minions (slightly smaller ninjas) are called “ninjalinos.” I’m not exactly sure why my daughter has opted to be a sidekick rather than a villain or hero, but I think it has something to do with the fact that the ninjalinos wear purple (her favorite color) while Night Ninja wears navy blue (boring). In any case, this is what I had to work with this year:
My daughter is going to be a flower girl in my brother’s upcoming wedding– she’s extremely excited about it, of course! We decided that aside from the dress (which is huge and made of yards and yards of ivory tulle), what she really needed was a wreath of flowers for her hair. Because hey, flower girls need flowers, right?
As I mentioned earlier, my daughter is going to be the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland for Halloween this year. She was really excited at the idea– so excited that when the yard of fabric I’d ordered– pink and purple striped faux fur– arrived, she used it as a blanket on her bed until I was ready to sew!
Like I’ve said before, I love making cute lunches for my daughter to take to school. It’s fun coming up with creative ways to make food look interesting, and one of the easiest things I’ve done is to make rainbow pasta. It’s just pasta, dyed with food coloring.
The great part is, you don’t have to cook it in special water or anything like that– just cook your pasta as usual. While it’s cooking, take a few drops of liquid food coloring or a tiny dab of gel food coloring and put it into a plastic sandwich bag. Put in a tablespoon of water to dilute the pigment. The water really is necessary, or it won’t coat the pasta evenly.
Then, when the pasta is finished cooking and still warm (doesn’t have to be right out of the pot, but you should do it within 5 minutes or so), put it into the bag, seal the bag, and toss it around until the colored water has coated the pasta.
And that’s it. Serve immediately and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for as long as you would regular pasta. If you do multiple colors, it’s best to store them separately so the dye doesn’t rub off onto other pieces of pasta.
Note: I find that red, yellow, green, and blue work best for coloring pasta, though yellow is kind of subtle. Purple/violet does NOT work well. Seriously, it turns the pasta this unappetizing grayish color– no one will want to eat it. So just skip that one.
To add to the “princess” look of this dress I wanted to do paned sleeves– you may know them as “Snow White sleeves”– where a contrasting-colored lining peeks through slashes in the outer sleeve. However, since I didn’t want to make two separate layers I decided to simply insert strips of white satin into the main purple sleeve, pleating the purple fabric so it looked like the white was a separate inner sleeve. For the technique I relied heavily on this tutorial, which is awesome.
For my basic sleeve pattern I wasn’t confident enough to draft my own– I really didn’t feel like measuring and guessing about the best curved shape, so I raided the $1 pattern bin at my local store and picked out a girls’ pattern that had puffed sleeves to use. I cut the sleeves out, then cut each one into four pieces and inserted 2.5″ wide strips of white satin between them, ironing the 1/4″ seam allowances towards the purple fabric .