comments: 155


PATTERN: Simplicity 5695
FABRIC: Bodice fabric from Purl Patchwork; top layer of skirt from Denyse Schmidt "County Fair" collection; second and third layer of skirt from stash

Oooo, that sewing rant felt good to have — thanks for listening! I think what interests me about the conversation, as always, is just the funky psychology of making things in general, you know what I mean? Why I like to do this, and not that? Why you like to do that, and not this? Obviously, love is like thread: love makes every stitch, and every seam. But there's so much more — more prosaic stuff, more grainlines and notches and sleeve caps and plackets — there, too. I find the individual choices and motivations endlessly fascinating (as you probably know I do). Sometimes I feel like I could write about it all the livelong day.

But definitely, after a long year of hard paper-work (both the adoption-paperwork kind and the book-writing patternwork kind, where Alicia-laziness was absolutely and obviously not even an option), it feels so good to just spend time deep in piles of fabric (instead of piles of paper), thinking about the little person who will wear these. Will she like dresses? Eh [shrugs], who knows. If she doesn't like 'em now, she'll probably love them in forty years when she becomes a sewing-pattern creator (believe me, I didn't think I'd be doing this when I grew up, either). Or she'll eschew our crazy, crafty ways and become a marine biologist. That'd be cool.

Either way, it's like, when you're sewing for someone you haven't met yet, what can you do but give them these little pieces of yourself, your own small versions of your hopes and dreams for them, spoken in your own particular sort of language. The sewing ideas are coming so fast, and the sewing is so much fun, even the parts I mess up feel funny and sweet and remind me of the me I used to be, long before sewing became a vocation, back when I was just motivated by wanting to see my dress. The one my mom and I talked about when I was seven, or nine, or eleven, as we thumbed through pattern books and then looked for fabric, and picked out ribbon, and found the right buttons. Some of my earliest memories aren't of my mom sewing as much as they are of being in the fabric store with her and my little sisters, thumbing through the big books, learning how to picture that dress in this fabric, with that sleeve (from a different pattern) and that ribbon (instead of lace). It never got boring. Ever. It still never does. For several years after my dad died in 2000, I would find myself on my birthday (which is also the anniversary of the day he died) at the fabric store, just wandering, wandering, alone among the books and bolts; I always felt so small and lost on that day. I would go with no plan. I would feel whatever I felt. But that place: No matter where in the country (or world) you are, no matter what year it is, the fabric store seems like home. It's always the same. And that process of just being able to conjure something beautiful out of it — not something perfect, just something yours: the dress for the girl you want to be — always has brought me peace. And brought me back.

To this day, that aisle-wander is still my go-to happy place, when nothing else feels right. Or even when it does. It's where I go when I'm happy or sad. My friend Sarah loves the grocery store. My sister loves the garden center. At one point in my life I would've probably also said Union Station was my happy place. Or sitting on the Empire Builder, a thousand miles away, somewhere near Cut Bank, Montana, sometime in (the golden light of) late August. Like the others, I see now that this little dress is just a little wish. This one: that our girl will know the beauty of the Big Sky.


wow! you're like a machine! this one is hands down my favorite so far! Love it. so cheery and fun.

Wow, this is gorgeous! Inspired to begin our Spring/Summer sewing spree right now. We have the goal of buying no clothes this summer or spring.

Cutest dress ever. Seriously.

I made that pattern for my oldest daughter a couple of years ago. Love it.

Your daughter will be blessed. Is already blessed.

I love this dress. You have me thinking about where my place is and nothing came to mind. I'm going to ponder this now all day. Lovely post.

I so hear what you are saying about the fabric store (although the garment kind seem just about gone). I still catch myself fantasizing about making a new jacket or skirt for an upcoming occasion--even though I rarely get around to it. There's just something about dreaming about fabric possibilities. . . .Beautiful little dress!

Oh boy (whoops - girl!) that is one A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E dress. Must find a little girl to make it for. ;-)

pass the tissues please. I should learn to just have them handy when I visit. your comments on the feeling of home in the fabric store shot straight to my heart. I have such similar memories with my mom, and today I feel so lucky that the fabric/craft store and the bookstore are in the same building...the peace that I can always find in that combination is priceless.

This is the cutest are a master at mixing patterns. Thanks for bringing to my attention a pattern I might have otherwise missed!

Awww...shedding a few tears here...very beautifully written!
I love the touch of aqua in your dress, it's so very pretty!
My family life, like yours, consisted of many trips to the fabric store with my mom and sisters, which I am so thankful for. I can also remember pinning little hemlines on dresses while my daughters stood patiently, holding the pin cushion for me. I know your little daughter will have wonderful memories of things handmade with love, just like you do! A gift indeed! :)

Ah, this is the cutest dress I've ever seen. You are well on your way to creating the cutest little girl's wardrobe EVER!

Just wanted you to know that sharing your journey with the reader is a great gift. I am touched by your stories and love looking at what you have made next - you see I have a full time job running a warehouse but I have a constant creative itch that I rarely get to tap into - so when I can peek into your world for a moment during my busy day it is such a treat. Thank you so much for your gifts.

What a gorgeous dress. And some beautiful words. Thank you for sharing this special time with us. I feel honoured to read it all.

what a treat...the dress and the have good thoughts and you express them in an enchanting way...always

tacomapat says: March 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Fabulous dress - priceless. I cannot think of a better place to live than Portland OR for fabric stores - truly the best place to find solace among the bolts of fabric, the findings, the books.

Susie Sears Taylor says: March 11, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Beautiful sentiments and beautiful dress. You are getting better and better with the sewing.

So now this ONE is my favorite. Oh my word, I'd wear it myself and I am 41. I love how you are sharing this experience w/ your blog readers but it is killing me not knowing precisely where you are in this wait. Every day I log in thinking "this could be THE POST". Much luck to you both.

what a beautiful dress, how lucky your daughter will be to have an amazing mother like you.

Love the clothes, but I REALLY REALLY love the posts. They speak of (in the unspoken parts) joy and anticipation and love. My heart fills up for you. This one nearly brought me to tears. I love sewing for my daughters. Love it more than I ever would have imagined (and never imagined myself sewing clothing for them to be exact.)

such a beautiful wish

i lost my baby during birth last fall and am now pregnant again...i have always been an artist, i always made things with my mom, but now the only place that i feel safe, the only place that doesnt hurt is when i am drawing, painting, sewing, creating. and not in the way i learned to for clients where everything has to be perfect, but in the way i created when i was a little girl, trying to capture all my dreams and make the moments i longed for... i remember those times in the fabric store with my mom and i have so many hopes for the little one inside me like you have for your little girl that you are awaiting, thank you for a beautiful post - it amazes me too how we can open our hearts and start creating and certain things just arrive, free of decisions, they just become

oh and the dress is amazingly perfect:)

If I were a little girl, I would be so delighted to find myself in your home - it seems such a warm and loving place.

Another TA needed! (tear alert). Sweet. Dress is adorable. A friend told me once that we dress our children like we would like to dress. I find that it's true. I'd wear a strawflower dress and a straw hat and flip flops everyday, if I could. Maybe I'll just go upstairs and make one...

Such a sweet dress! I just love it! I'm sure this new little one will too!

My mother made a lot of my clothes growing up. Sometimes we had matching clothes, because she would use the extra/left over fabric for a little dress or skirt. I really treasure those memories. I'm sure she will too!

All the best!

Your love of fabric and stitching really comes through in this dress. So beautiful. I find the fabric store, and sitting at my machine, a refuge, also.
I had an aunt who would sew a dress for me every year for my birthday. Fondest memory, ever. You are making some wonderful memories there.

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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.