Double Phew!

comments: 57

Fabricshopping1It's coming along. I'd had such a hard time picking out fabric for my niece's back-to-school dress that I decided to take the expert with me to the fabric store, though I knew this was a risky venture. You moms out there know all about the fine balance one must walk with a seven-year-old when choices are involved — too many can take all day. I, of course, know all this exclusively from my experiences with said niece at Chuck E. Cheese. What I told her parents was that, if they ever decided to take the kids to Chuck's, they should plan on the following schedule: 20 minutes to get there; 15 minutes to eat pizza; 45 minutes to play the games; and an hour and a half to pick out the fourteen plastic rings (rubber goldfish, fake tattoos, sparkly bracelets, etc.) she wanted to redeem her prize tickets for. I must say that the teenagers behind the prize counter at Chuck's have the patience of saints. It's amazing.

Anyway, when I showed her the pattern I'd chosen (I did not even consider anything other than picking out the pattern myself) she was very pleased. I told her that she could decide whether she wanted the short, puffy-sleeved version or the sleeveless. At lunch I held up the pattern for her to look at while she ate her cheeseburger. Her eyes rested on the picture for several seconds, then she looked across the room, thinking. Back to the pattern, back out the window, think think. Munch munch, think think. Back to the pattern, think think. Back out the window, think think. Get distracted by idea that balloon tied to her seat could float away at any second and ties it around her wrist. Munch munch, think think. Eyes back to the pattern. Aunt Alicia's arm starts getting tired from holding up pattern. "Arden?"
     "Mmm hmm?"
     Munch munch.
     "Are you thinking?"
     "Mmm hmm."
     Munch munch.
     Munch munch.
     Five minutes go by. I am trying so hard not to bust out laughing. My arm really is getting tired and my cheeseburger is getting cold. "Arden I can't hold the pattern anymore."
     "Okay, I'll hold it."
     She takes it and I watch her eyes. On the pattern, back out the window. On the pattern, back out the window. I am seriously wondering if she has completely forgotten what we're doing when she suddenly says, with complete confidence, "Sleeveless."

That was about fifteen minutes.

Fabricshopping2On to the fabric store. You will remember that she wanted her dress to be red and blue. I steer her toward the calicoes, which are all nicely grouped by color. She grinds to a halt in front of the Christmas fabric, which is red. "Oooo, this is nice, Aunt Alicia!" she says, pointing to the red poinsettias with gold glitter. I'm like, "Mmm hmm, and let's go look at these over here." She's stuck at the poinsettias.
     "I like this one."
     "I like it too, but it's for Christmas."
     "But it doesn't have to be for Christmas."
     Er, uh oh. It's gonna be a Christmas and a Fourth of July dress. But then she sees the kittens.
     "Aunt Alicia! Look at the kittens! They're adorable!"
     These kittens have about as much in common with real kittens as My Little Ponies have with real horses (and Blair, I think you hear what I'm saying here). They bat their long eyelashes over huge blue eyes, giant bows tied around their necks. They're totally hideous. I can't do it. "Mmm, those are adorable. But what about this one?" I say hopefully, holding up a cute diamond-print red calico.
     "I like that one!" she says.
     Phew! "And what about this blue one?"
     "I love that one!"
     Double phew! We then had to decide which color we wanted for the yoke, and which for the skirt, but this only took about four and a half minutes, so that wasn't bad.

Fabricshopping3At home, we discussed shoes. We thought red clogs would be perfect. "Or," she said, "Mary Janes would be adorable!" Adorable is one of our favorite words. She said there was also a pair of boots in the Land's End catalog that she really wanted. Really really really wanted. We explored the possibility of crying if one did not get what one wanted as means to getting someone to give you what you wanted. I felt sure this, as a solution, never worked and said so, but had to concede that it did work when one was a baby, as she quickly pointed out: You cry, you get your bottle (or whatever). (I didn't tell her that it could possibly work when, at 37, you don't want to move your own stuff out of your own store, too, but as I said the other day, I'm not going there.) Some fake crying ensued, her for her boots, me because I couldn't thread the ribbon through the eyelet trim. Then, a better idea for the boots:
     "I want them so much, I'm going to do a little jig!" she said, and proceeded to dance around the living room, the Boot Dance, while the dog barked at her and I cut out her dress and cracked up.

Fabricshopping4I think it's coming out really cute. I should've lined the bodice instead of making a bunch of facings, but oh well. I like vintage patterns because usually there is only one size instead of seventeen sizes in each pattern, which makes it a lot easier to cut. I think I'll finish this today so I'll be all done before Andy's mom arrives, and the move starts, etc.

Then I'll go see what boots she wants at Land's End . . . You had to see that coming. What auntie could resist rewarding a good, pleading jig? Not this one.


oh goodness - that's adooorable (one of my favorite words too!) I can't wait to see Arden all dressed and ready to go back to school! You've inspired me to do something special for my niece Maria for back to school (though I probably won't make her a dress - maybe lots of fun craft supplies.)

Whoa. That is sooooo cute! Love reading about how the fabric choices came about---yes, double phew! You're not kidding about the decision process when there are too many choices. Whenever we plan to take the kids to an ice cream counter for a cone, I make sure to bring my current book along because I'm sure to get in another chapter before everyone decides...sheesh. (not really, but you get the idea :)

Love that dress and the colors, umm, "you" picked out : ) I dread the day Emma gets to the point she wants to pick everything out for herself, because she is already a "thinker" when it comes to 3 lunch choices (hmm, who knew the difference between a hot dog, hamburger or chicken nuggets would require such a "gourmet" decision!). I cut out Emma's dress for her 1st day of school Sunday, so I have to finish it this weekend. It is sleeveless, blue chambray.. it was supposed to have "kitty" pockets, but I talked her into this chambray blue and white stripe fabric that has pink victorian little girls on it here and there.

I cannot wait to see Arden in her dress and shoes you buy for her : )

The first day of school. Words that are music to a mother's ears. My daughter is in her second year of college but I still remember the new outfits and backpacks, binders etc. She had many outfits that I made, then they went out of fashion for store bought clothing. Now I'm back in fashion with my sewing skills, cute skirts, sundresses and tops are in favor.

such a sweet post, and what a sweet pair you two are! can't wait to see the dress on Arden!

What a pretty little niece you got! You just took me back to fabric shopping with my mom as kid. Nice memories!

Oh my goodness - how brave you were to let her loose in the fabric store - I think the final choices ARE adorable - the dress will look stunning, and perfect for back-to-school. I am really enjoying reading your blog - so glad I found it!

I think the fabrics are adorable.. no kittens in sight. I have to laugh and say that I am looking forward to these times with my daughter when she turns 7 (4 more years.. phew), I figure its bound to be easier than 2 1/2.. am I deluding myself?

Its fun to see your project to hear about your afternoon with Arden (love that name), she's a lucky girl to have such an aunt as you.

heeheee! What a great story! The dress is looking great.

I love the dress and the fabric, but I think that the most special part of it is that you are spending time with your niece. It would be so much easier just to go and buy a dress and give it to her, but wonderful memories you are creating for her.

Love the photos of your beautiful little niece. You are one cool aunt!

as usual, I'm cracking up. Oh, the vision of the Christmas and Fourth of July dress is just too much!

It looks like it's going to be absolutely ADORABLE. The boots really would be the perfect thing to complete the look....

laughing so hard because this is sooo my life. every. day.

don't tell arden that mia is getting those land's end boots for the fall (the ones with the little bow at the back?), but *i'm * picking out the color.

Completely lovely! I am dealing with the crying issue with my 5 & 3 (almost 6 & 4) year olds. My daughter, never a whiner before her little brother started it, has taken to "mustering tears." - Doesn't fly here either - a jig though - that's tougher!

too cute! that dress is totally adorable! she is going to be the cutest girl at school! and how cool to have such an awesome enabler!!

Too cute! Love it.

This was a great entry !

yehhh, I couldn't have resisted either.

Love, S.

Oh, you are SUCH a great auntie! She is so blessed to have you!

This is my life! Emma and I have been thrift shopping for artwork for her room. Let's just say if she holds up one more of the 'precious moments' prints in plastic frames, (the ones with the weird looking doe-eyed kids) and declares that she wants this to be her "theme" I think I will scream.

Arden's dress is very cute, thank goodness you were able to sway her from the kitties. I was feeling the poinsettas for a minute though.

As the mother of a 7 yr old I can so totally relate to your wonderful story! If I didn't know better I'd think you were writing about my daughter! What a nice aunty you are! Loved this! Jamie in (Livingston) MT...

You have such a wonderful writing style! I love your stories! This one brought me back to my own little girl days of being in the fabric store with my mom, designing dresses together. I loved picking out fabrics and trims and choosing which view on the pattern for her to make. Arden's lucky to have such a sweet aunt to do this with!

Oh what I have to look forward to! Your methods of persuasion are great and I love those fabrics.
You are a loving aunt.

cute story. I totally agree with your Chuck E Cheese employee comments... I took about 5 kids there when I was babysitting them, and they took FOREVER to choose prizes, and the kid behind the counter just kept smiling and holding out options. I applaud you for striking a good balance between giving your niece a choice and setting guidlines.

Chuck E Cheese!!! Oh my goodness! I worked there when I was 15 for about....3 days. I think it was when they put me in that Chuck outfit that I decided it wasn't for me! It weighed about 50 pounds, NOT including the head, and had an extra 5 pounds of sweat from the person who wore it before me. Yuk. My only instruction: no talking while in the suit. Can't be too hard, right? As I'm walking around with this thing on, trying to be cheerful, this kid thought it'd be fun to run up and hit Chuck's head really hard. After about the 3rd time I felt I just couldn't take it anymore and my head was pounding! I finally turned around and said, "hey kid! knock it off!" at which point he looked at me (or rather "Chuck") in utter shock and backed away slowly. I understood then why I wasn't supposed to talk while in the suit! :)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.