Anna Maria Dress

comments: 77


PATTERN: Pretty as a Picture dress from Handmade Beginnings by Anna Maria Horner
SIZE: 9 months
FABRIC: Little Folks Dobby Square Dance in Berry, Dobby Pastry Line in Magenta, and Voile Little Honey in Gold

That Anna Maria. She can do anything. I made the Pretty as a Picture dress, almost exactly as it was pictured, from her gorgeous new book, Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby. I call it "Roman's Book," because Anna Maria was pregnant with her sixth child, baby Roman, while she made it. I'll give you a moment to just process that. Having made a couple of books now myself, I simply cannot fathom how she did this, with five kids, a baby on the way, a fabric line, and everything else that she does. But then I remember that Andy and I met her and her husband Jeff at Quilt Market (which was in Portland in 2008, and where her totally amazing booth won prizes, which is even more amazing because I know that she and Jeff did it all by themselves, and I think it was even her first time there). And I remember this teensy little beautiful bird of a girl with that sparkle in her brown eyes, and warm energy in her (super talented) hands, and I get it: Anna is just one of those people who can do anything. And does. There wasn't time to bring them home with us, and feed them cookies and milkshakes, and show them all our favorite things, and talk for hours and hours, the way I wanted to. There were only minutes in a badly lit expo center with a million other people and distractions. But Anna's fabrics and creations, and Anna and Jeff themselves, shone like bright stars in it all. And I always remembered thinking that then. That she was like a starflower.


The new book is so lovely and all of the projects are adorable (especially the Henny Penny and the Center of Attention Quilt). The pages are filled with her own fabrics, with their beautifully saturated colors and exuberant prints. The photography is evocative and inspiring (and impressive, as anyone whose tried to take a project shot modeled by an actual baby will tell you!). But one of my very favorite things about the book is her writing in the introduction. She excerpted it in entirety on her blog. My favorite part was this:

"What has taken me precisely six children and countless handmade items to realize, is that this sewing, or nurturing, which is intended mostly for the baby or our home, perhaps benefits me more than any one in the family. Slow hand-stitching forces me off my tired feet and allows me to pay attention to the subtle bumps and squirms of the little one within. Running my hands over potential fabrics for the baby's clothing to check for softness sets my mind into daydreams of what color eyes or hair the baby might have. Using what brain power is still available to me while pregnant, I ponder the design of a nursery quilt which gives me less time to ponder those natural fears and doubts that come with motherhood. All this to say — sewing while expecting has kept me healthy, centered on what matters — more joyful than not."

When I read it, I got choked up. (Okay, I burst into tears.) She seemed to express exactly what I am feeling and doing, albeit in my own hopeful-adoptive-mom-to-be way, with my own sorts of bumps and squirms, as I sew through this waiting period, stitching together all the doubts and dreams that come with this journey. I recognized myself in what she wrote with some surprise, and, in seeing that we shared something, was so grateful to feel included.

That's when I realized what it was about Anna Maria that makes me look up to her so much. It's her generosity. She's got so much style, and so much soul, and she shares it so easily, effortlessly.  Like all the best moms seem to do.


And isn't the back of this dress so cute, too?


LOVE the dress!

i read your blog faithfully (you're one of my favorites), and nostalgically yearn for my beloved pacific northwest :)

That dress is definitely one of my favorites from the book...and the little hoodie...

Her intro is so very wonderful (and yes, made me tear up as well...)

I love her, too! I love the color you chose for the dress, and how the square on the front looks like a little apron. It reminds me of one of my favorite dresses growing up.

Ooooh yes. I've never met her, but her warmth and style shines through just in her fabrics, goodness sakes. This makes me want to buy about a billion more yards of Little Folks, and spend the rest of the year sewing.

samantha says: May 20, 2010 at 12:16 PM


you should know that all the sweet teary generous idolizing you do for anna maria, we all do for you. we are all grateful to be included as well.


Oh I do love this book! I wrote about it too, just a small blurb on page 32 of my brand spanking new e-mag called Delish. I was SO delighted when I wrote to Anna Maria, asking her for an interview for the next issue (Fall 2010) for a story I am writing on female textile designers. She said yes!! I can't wait to talk to her.

I love this dress....she will be just darling in it...

It's lovely. I've only just started making dresses and so far they've all been very plain and simple. This is very inspiring to be a bit more inventive. Thanks for the post x

So darn cute!

Yep. Got me crying for you. I love all the ladies online that know what matters. Bless you in your becoming a true mother.

Darling! Your little girl is going to have the most awesome wardrobe. Love the color!

Gorgeous - dress, her words, your words = gorgeous

You've tipped the scale for me with that dress, I have to buy that book now! What an adorable dress!

I really adore the dress... beautiful!

Susie Sears Taylor says: May 20, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Love the dress LOVE RED! I was wondering about a name for your new daughter. Will you give us any hints? Some of the names in our family are.....Teri, Julie,Veneita,Abby, Savannah,Naviah, Armanii,Madison, Patrina, Betsy, Anna Danielle, Gabrielle and Scout. All girls, big and little. I used to my daughters, Danielle and Gabrielle, clothes out of anything I could (no $) including the dining room curtains! The first dress I made was WWWAAAYYY overboard with lace, buttons and rick rack. But over the years I have learned to tone it down a little. That first dress really looked ridiculous but luckily my pals understood. I am glad you are having fun with your new little one already. She is priceless.
Susie Sears Taylor

I love this little dress. I've been pouring over Anna's new book too and wishing that my girls (now 7 and 9) were still little enough to fit into those tiny things. Inspiring.

Funny how you just described yourself!

Hey Alicia, that was just so good to read. I love you telling us about meeting Anna Maria and her husband, and your sweet description of them, her ways, and her book. You just put your thoughts down so well, you have always amazed and inspired me just as Anna Maria does! And you are so right, it's her generosity! She does so freely give to her family and all us complete strangers that knock on her bloggy door all the time. I actually have six little folks myself and it takes me forever to get anything done, but I do want to be a mom like her, so generous. And can I just say that the things you are pumping out for your dear little one to be have got to be the sweetest, prettiest things I have ever seen, ever! Take care!

That last dress is adorable!

Oh my gosh, cutest dress ever. You are going to have the most amazingly-dressed little girl!!!

I check your blog obsessively now, awaiting *the day* that baby girl Paulson comes home. So very very excited for you and Andy.

In the world of blogs, you and Anna Maria are my first loves. I admire Anna Maria's energy & creativity daily (how does she do it???) but then I see all of the things you do and I think, "How does she do it???" You are equally impressive!

Alicia, please don't title any more posts with little girl names. I'm sitting with you here on pins and needles during this waiting period and, well, back to the waiting bench.

The dress is very cute. All those little dresses are. You must have a closet full with lovely dresses for your new baby girl. She is so lucky!

This was such a beautiful post, Alicia. As a fellow adoptive mom, I can tell you that all of the preparation for and dreaming about your baby is such important, meaningful work.

We too had a very bumpy road to parenthood, and at times I could barely allow myself to believe it might actually happen for us. But I had hope. I shopped and gathered and dreamed and read. The night we got our referral for our first daughter, I sat on our red couch and folded all of the baby clothes I had for her. And sobbed. Big gulpy tears of relief and happiness and joy.

Our older daughter is about to turn 10 and she has a 7-year-old sister too, and I just wanted to let you know that all of the dreams and hopes you have now about your future daughter? They will be realized and life will be even better and richer than you could ever have imagined.

Much love, hope, patience and peace to you on the journey...xo

beautiful dress and lovely description of anna maria. i think you are also one of those people who can do anything!

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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