Thursday, 17 April 2014

16

Calling All Kids: Stars and Stripes (and Soapboxes)

Calling All Kids

I'm really, super excited to be posting for Alida Makes's Calling All Kids Series today!  This is a series about breaking down stereotypes about 'what girls like' and 'what boys like' and instead celebrates kids' individual likes and unisex design.

Calling All Kids

The 'gendering' of childhood is a subject very close to my heart and actually one of the reasons I started this business.  I'm so tired of (and angry about!) the marketing of toys, books, fashions, etc on a gender divide.  At its most explicit we get divisions in shops or the labelling of toys and books with 'For Boys' and 'For Girls', but more pervasive are the assumptions made about kids based on their gender.  That all girls like pink, or princesses, or makeup, or domestic play based on cleaning one's house; that all boys like blue, or sports, or dinosaurs and diggers, or messy play (they're just noise with dirt, amirite?!) or aggression based play.  Insidious messages that tie identity to gender and provide a nebulous framework of the 'right' and 'wrong' ways to be girls or boys damage both genders.

Calling All Kids

I admit that I've found (and find) this a really hard part of being a mother to a daughter, particularly a daughter that identifies with more 'girly' interests than I ever have.  I was considered a 'tomboy' growing up, and had little interest in dolls or princess narratives- instead I was heavily involved in various sports and preferred construction-based play like building forts in the woods or obstacle courses in the garden.  I'm not going to shame or discourage her (you like what you like!) for wanting to play princesses, or bedazzling jewellery boxes, or the million apps about applying makeup that she always wants but I am going to call her out for linking it to her gender.

Calling All Kids

Even as a toddler Maia would verbalise so many 'boys are' / 'girls are' tropes and gender stereotypes that I found it a mixture of terrifying and hilarious in a funny-not-funny way.  I joked to a friend once that I should've named her Patriarchy for all the things she said: from girls don't like science, to boys are better at sports, to telling me I should always wear makeup because I looked prettier with it.  Those millions of tiny messages are getting through, and at a younger age than I expected.

Calling All Kids

It's intense, and it's ongoing, but we've come a long way.  One of my proudest mum-moments was when she and a friend were looking at magazines and the friend said, 'This is a magazine for girls' and Maia said, 'That's a magazine for people who like princesses'.

Calling All Kids

I've spoken about this many a time before, but my mum is an all-around bad*ss and inspiration.  She sews, she's an amazing knitter, she makes glorious stained-glass, she does woodwork, makes furniture- you name it, she can do it.  She officially retired this year, so obviously she's relaxing and enjoying her down-time by building a second house in their upper lot.  Her mum / my grandma was also a bad*ss and Maker of All Things (her furniture making in particular was amazing), and could often be found hauling around huge rocks and building stone walls until she was almost 80.  One of my favourite memories of her was when I was enlisted as a teenager to help her stack a huge pile of wood that had been delivered and despite being in her seventies and all of 4'10" she was OMG SO COMPETITIVE about being faster than me.  A couple of years ago me and my mum were chopping a tree down for Christmas, lying on our stomachs in the snow with a crosscut saw, and she said her mum would be smiling down on us.  Women doing it our own bad selves.

Calling All Kids

So we sat down last weekend and I told Maia about the Calling All Kids series and showed her some of the projects that people had made for it.  We got a notebook out and made a big list of all the things she'd heard about the differences between boys and girls.  She helped pick out the fabrics, and we brainstormed about what kind of outfit would break down bias and appeal universally.  Blue and green- check, star print- check, sporty- check.

Calling All Kids

The top is a unisex Dolman tee shirt with shoulder princess seams and contrasting striped side panels.

Calling All Kids

The shorts have a yoga waistband for comfort and allow a lot of freedom for movement.  I also made some knee socks (which I should've made a couple inches taller in hindsight because the stripes don't have much vertical stretch).  An outfit for movement and action, not a outfit for adornment.  Phew, a bit of a novel for a quite simple outfit!

Calling All Kids

The tl;dr version: gender is not identity.  Maia might like a tonne of things society associates with female-ness (and that's okay) but she should never be limited or defined by it.  For every dress or skirt that I make her, for every princess-print I might use, I'll make her a dozen of these more gender-neutral pieces.  Be strong, be confident, be without limits.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

8

Krazy for Kat Harlequin Baby Set


Understatement of the year, but I'm crazy for Kat from Sew Chibi. Not only is she super-talented with one of the most innovative sewing styles around (sewing with liquid and candy! sewing with lights! sewing paintings of her dad's!) but she's also one the hands-down sweetest people and someone I'm massively lucky to count as a friend. One month ago, she welcomed her third daughter, Akira, into her gorgeous family and we're having a virtual baby shower today to celebrate.

Krazy for Kat top 1 

I had a really hard time figuring out what to make someone who sets the bar so high.  I knew I couldn't compete with her imagination or daring, and I am but a medium geek to her uber-geek. But I could make a tribute to her in colour!  Kat loves riotous colours as much as I do, so I made the mini-est of Mini Pennys with a harlequin stripe for the from and back middle panels.  I turned the stripes vertically for the the neck and sleeve bands, and omitted the hem for vertical stripe band instead.


The turquoise I used for the side panels and sleeves I chose because it's a close colour-match to my all time favourite of her hair colours!  So pretty.

Krazy for Kat bloomers

And lest the little lady need some coverage for her lower half, I also made some coordinating bloomers by shortening my slouchy bottoms pattern and adding big cuffs.  It's been the longest time since I've sewn anything quite so small.

Krazy for Kat set

That is some next level Rainbow Brite right there.  I hope you like it, Kat, and much love!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

5

Kids Clothes Week: Pony Bloom Dress

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

A second make for Kids Clothes Week complete!  For this I used the incredible Pony Bloom fabric.

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

It's quite a large scale print that I didn't want to break up, so I decided to omit as many seams as possible.

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

I combined my basic a-line dress block with my Dolman Top pattern so there wouldn't even be sleeve seams.  Just side and shoulder seams and as much uninterrupted ponies as possible!

KCW: Pony Bloom dress

For a little bit of visual interest, instead of a normal scoop neck I switched it out for a V-neck.

Friday, 11 April 2014

5

Kids Clothes Week: Tangerine and Turquoise

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

Would you believe, blogging *and* sewing just for the fun of it? Maia is in desperate (theoretical) need of new Spring and Summer clothes, and with this season's Kids Clothes Week happening at this very moment I thought I'd seize the opportunity to fill some gaps in her wardrobe.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The top is a turquoise and orange organic cotton knit from my shop, using my Dolman Top pattern. I used the stripes horizontally for the body, but as it's a four way stretch I flipped it vertically for the neckband.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The skirt is my free Tennis Skirt pattern in the coordinating Happy Whales.  This is the only skirt that fits her at the moment, when I said 'gaps in her wardrobe' I wasn't kidding.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The leggings are store bought but, fortuitously, a perfect match for the charcoal whales.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1

The shoes match nothing.

Kids Clothes Week outfit 1