Little Prairie

comments: 219


PATTERN: McCall's 5257 (out of print)
VIEW: A (modified)
SIZE: Newborn
FABRIC: Unidentified calico, from Mill End Store

In open-adoption parlance, it's called The Wait. It's the period of time between the time you've finished jumping through all of the official hoops (the paperwork, the interviews, the fingerprinting, the background checks, the homestudy, the medical exam, the writing of the autobiographies, and the hardest: the creation of the photo album)  and the time you get The Call, meaning that a expectant birthmother wants to meet you (or, in many cases, that a baby has already been born and needs a home). The Wait can, theoretically, take four days or four years (or more, I imagine). That is, it takes as long as it takes. Each situation is unique, and, since you're waiting in The Pool (and not in a line), you really have no idea how long you will be waiting. Like a good Girl Scout, I can't help my tendency to want to Be Prepared, so a nursery is papered and painted, a crib is assembled, a stack of diapers stands neatly next to a stack of burp cloths, and one of those ubiquitous beige gliders awaits. (But man, those things are comfortable. If I had known, I would've gotten one a long time ago and just kept it around, as ugly as it is. It's more comfortable than our couch.)

Apparently, some people find The Wait to be very difficult, and some people really enjoy it. Since we are just at the beginning of ours, we don't have much more than a month's perspective on it, but it is at once both harder and easier than I thought: Harder some days to have patience and maintain faith that (as everyone insists) it Will Happen; easier to distract myself from worrying that it Won't by working toward achieving one of my Parenting Goals of creating the Most Adorable Baby Wardrobe in the Whole Wide World.

Well, that can hardly be considered work! To wit, Exhibit A: Baby Prairie Dress. Pure sweetness of a Love Saga variety. This was an old pattern I've had in my pattern box forever. It's now out of print, but I found a few on eBay and one of the descriptions said it was from 1991. When I opened the pattern a few weeks ago, I saw that it had already been cut to Newborn size. I wonder who I made it for, way back then. Can't remember. There are pinafore and bloomers that go with this. I followed the pattern exactly except that I left off the Peter Pan collar and placed the elastic at the bottom of the sleeves instead of in a separate casing above the hemline, which would've created a little ruffle. But I love the full, frothy calico-ness of this. It's so full it reminds me of a big round dandelion puff.

Here's what I tell myself about The Wait: If it's not long enough (as if this could actually be considered a problem, but let's just say), I won't have time to make all of the wee clothes I've been daydreaming about, because everyone tells you that once the baby arrives it's all poop and crying and bottles and baby giggles, and you don't have a single second to sew for, what, like eighteen years or something? (I stand in bewildered awe of all of you moms, including my own, who sew with little ones at your feet. Amazing!) On the other hand, if The Wait is too long, I'm going to run out of hangers.

I won't run out of fabric or ideas, though. I have a million. Andy too. Get ready for an avalanche of homemade baby things by the Paulsons. It's gonna be so much fun.


Oh, this is so exciting Alicia. Waiting well is one of life's challenges. You will indeed create the most adorable baby wardrobe ever! Lucky little one.


oh this is so adorable!!! you are a wonder and i can't wait to see the new creations you two will be putting together!!!

I made the Tiramisu baby afghan in February only mine is yellow with a varigated yellow, blue, green, & pink ruffle. It will be a gift and I think it is so lovely. Thanks for the pattern. The mother has 6 boys and now is having a girl. Oh my will those boys spoil this little one.

My hope for you is that you are done sewing waaaayyyyy before you reach the end of all your ideas. And may you find out how all of us moms did the sewing with little ones at our feet!

Julie G. in Iowa says: March 02, 2010 at 07:43 AM

She'll be the cutest, best-dressed little Paulson!
Have faith, these things have a way of working out - and they seem to always be at the right time and place.
Hugs and well-wishes, Julie G.

Thank you for the baby news. Sooo happy for you two. Some friends of ours waited less than a year, and should have a baby in May. So maybe your wait won't be too long. Keep busy, keep sewing, just keep on... xo Lisa

The wait was HORRIBLE for me--I bet you're waaay more patient than I am. I did spend the time knitting up a storm, though. On the bright side, we only waited for 3 weeks for The Call, and then another 2 weeks for him to be born. Not bad at all! We were open for all races and either gender, though, which can (as you know now after going through the adoption learning curve!) quickens the wait time. Praying that your wait will be exactly the right length of time and that you and Andy are in good spirits in the meantime. Oh, one more thing and then I'll shut up--now that our little Sebastian is almost 7 months old (!!!) we can hardly remember the agony of the wait. It's like childbirth apparerntly. You know there was pain, but somehow it fades a bit. SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!

Hangers! Funny you should say that. When I was looking at your sweet nursery with that little dress hanging there, I thought of these little antique wooden baby hangers I have. I would love to share some with you. It'll be a fair trade since I was the recipient of your book back via a giveaway you did! Just email me your mailing info and they'll be all yours!

Something I did while waiting (our wait was the predictable 9-month kind) was read (and read and read).

My favorite child-rearing books were the "Your One-Year-Old," "Your Two-Year-Old," etc. ones. It was so nice to know, when we hit a rough patch, that "That's what two-year-olds are like" rather than thinking "It's me!" or wondering "Why does she DO that!"

My other favorites are the Faber and Mazlish "How to Talk" to kids series.

Those were the most true and sensible books on talking and listening that I have ever read. So many things I had never thought about, but which rang so true as I encountered them in F&M......

I offer them to you as a pre-baby present. :-)

oh how fun!!! I have a few very vintage baby patterns that you're completely welcome to if you're interested! they're from the 40's, 50's, and 60's. All bonnets and smocking and ruffles :)

Nita in South Carolina says: March 02, 2010 at 07:55 AM

Another really fun thing to do while you wait is take your baby name list and practice screaming your favorites out the back door at the top of your lungs: "PETUNIA HERMIONE PAULSON! YOU COME IN THIS HOUSE RIGHT! THIS! INSTANT!!!"

It will be so exciting to see all the things you dream up to make for her! Oh course enjoy your crafting now while you have time, but I have every reason to believe you will find the time to hook and sew even after she is here! For me it is the relaxation I get after bed time:)

I do not read blogs and I do not post comments ...........but I have become completely entranced by yours since a friend at River Cottage noticed it as a result of your enthusiasm for Hugh's bread. My son is in his last year at school but I am here waiting for my small children to return from wherever they have been playing ...... Remember to make some clothes larger than new born because , before you know it, that baby will be bouncing bigger than your dreams.

When I was taking my yoga birth class we talked about using mantras to help with labor. Your Wait is so much like that process and the one that came to mind for me reading this was "My baby will arrive at the divine and perfect time, in the divine a perfect way."

When I read "Little Prairie" I thought of it as a name, the working title, for this child who is coming. Then I remembered Prairie Dawn, the Sesame Street girl that always played piano recitals... I love Prairie Dawn. (I do not have a point. Just saying).
All mothers wait, one way or another. I hope you enjoy your wait, that it prepares you, but does not cause you to suffer. And honestly, I don't know that we can ever be prepared. It may help to expect the unexpected.
I am enjoying the parts of the journey that you share with us... it feels good to be expectant.

Oh Alicia, that lucky, little lady. She's not only going to grow up with such sweet loving parents, but also is going to get the most adorable wardrobe ever. This little dress is so cute!

Oh alicia,

I'm so very very happy for you and all I can say is that the wait is a delicious impatient joyous tiring time. But soon enough, you'll look back at that time with complete wonder and marvel over all that luxurious time you had. However, it is very hard to appreciate until it is gone.

Hooray for hand-made baby clothes! I made a few for my son, but quickly ran out of time (and they grow out of things so fast). I'm still in awe of my mother, who sewed and knit all kinds of clothes for 4 of us! I sometimes wonder if she ever slept.

Your little one is not only going to look adorable, but be wrapped in love. What a lucky babe.

You know what a fun book to read during the Wait would be? "The Kid" by Dan Savage. He talks about how he and his boyfriend decide to adopt a baby in the Portland/Seattle area (open adoption), and what happens when they actually get a baby. Entertaining, touching, fun, a little off the beaten track.

A lovely way to spend your time in "the pool". I look forward to seeing more lovely things from both the Paulsons!

"Little Prairie" is beautiful and perfectly made. I'm excited about the prospect of seeing more beautifully crafted garments. Oh your little child will be so loved and very well dressed :)
I hope the wait is just the right length of time for you all.

Oh, how fun and wonderful! I hope you don't "run out of hangers"! We look forward to a digital fashion show on your blog. What's Andy got planned?

I LOVE the little prairie dress! I would wear those dresses today if it weren't so uncool, not to mention the fact that I'm 56 years old! LOL!
I look forward to reading your thoughts as you and Andy "wait."

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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