Wednesday 18 September 2013

The Paper Bag Princess...

In case you missed it, here's the post I wrote for the Sew Many Books series, over at Nap-Time Creations... such a fun series!

When Emily asked if I wanted to be a part of Sew Many Books, children's clothes inspired by children's books, I didn't hesitate. Combining two of the things I am passionate about; children's literature and sewing for children, immediately had my head swimming with ideas.

There are so many good books for children, which made it hard to choose just one. I eventually decided on making an outfit inspired by Princess Elizabeth, the main character in The Paper Bag Princess, written by Robert N Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko.

Elizabeth was a beautiful princess. She lived in a castle and had expensive princess clothes. She was going to marry a prince named Ronald.
Unfortunately, a dragon smashed her castle, burnt all her clothes with his fiery breath, and carried off Prince Ronald
Elizabeth decides she will chase the dragon and rescue Ronald. The only thing she can find to wear, is a paper bag, so she dons her new outfit and sets off to find Ronald.

It doesn't take Elizabeth long to find the dragon. Instead of trying to overcome the beast with brute strength, she uses her intelligence and outsmarts him instead.

Our Little Princess' outfit most certainly doesn't look like a paper bag, but is inspired by Princess Elizabeth, a strong, independent character, who is the equal to any Prince.

My inspiration came from:
  • the title of the book
  • the colours in the book
  • the character, Princess Elizabeth
  • the underlying theme of the book

Our Little Princess sets off on her own journey...

She climbs up high...

She scrambles through bushes...

She runs...

She jogs...

She strides...

and she stops to look at the flowers. 

Her clothes don't hinder her activities. They give her the freedom to do anything she wants, just like Princess Elizabeth.

I chose to make the skirt using the Sophia Paper Bag Skirt, by Hadley Grace Designs, for two reasons. One, because it has a paper bag waist and two, the design is such that it gives freedom of movement. It's a great, little pattern, sized to fit ages newborn to 14.

The fabric (Wild Garden African Daisy) was chosen because of the bright, fun colours. I immediately thought of the dragon and his fiery breath. Orange was the obvious co-ordinating colour.

The leggings, once an old t-shirt of mine, were made using the Lil Leggings pattern, by Lil Blue Boo. The pattern recommends fabric with at least 75% stretch. As the t-shirt only had 35% stretch, I've gone up two sizes in width. The waistband is made without elastic, just using a rib knit, so should be very comfortable. I've retained the original hem on the t-shirt, thus eliminating the need to hem the leggings. This is a super quick and easy make, with the pattern fitting ages 6 months to 8 years.

The remainder of the same orange t-shirt was totally recut and sewn onto an adult's singlet that had only been worn once. Excess width was taken off the sleeves at the seam, the bodice was recut and the neckline was made smaller. What was a snug fit as an adult's singlet, has become the perfect size for Little Princess' t-shirt.

When Princess Elizabeth outwits the dragon and saves Prince Ronald he looks at her and says...
'Elizabeth, you are a mess! You smell like ashes, your hair is tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess.
Elizabeth replies...
'Your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a toad.' 
Needless to say, they didn't get married.

The Paper Bag Princess breaks the stereotypical image of princesses needing to be rescued, helped or looked after by the handsome prince. It is a fun book that is suitable for a wide range of ages. The older the child, the more they will understand the underlying theme. 

As a former school teacher, (of children from 5 - 12 years of age), I believe that instilling a love of reading, is one of the most valuable things we, as parents or grandparents, can do. Read to and with your kids. Read a wide variety of books. And make it FUN!!!

Mem Fox and Paul Jennings are two of Australia's most widely read authors of children's literature. Here are their thoughts on children and reading:

I thoroughly enjoyed Sew Many Books. I've loved seeing clothes inspired by a wide variety of books, but I've also loved the involvement and interaction with the children involved, in making stories come to life. And that's what reading's all about.

... Pam


  1. A princess superhero - I like that! Not every princess needs to sit around waiting for her Prince Charming - some of them get to best dragons and realize that they don't need a Prince Not-So-Charming, lol. What a sweet little outfit - perfect for the story!

  2. This is one of my favorite books. Love the clothes that were inspired by the book!

  3. This is one of my all time favourite children's books too. Beautiful skirt.

  4. You amaze me with how you are always taking challenges. Of course I always enJOY seeing what you make for each project.

  5. Have never heard of this story Pam but it sounds like fun. Love the outfit you made inspired by the story

  6. Great post Pam - I love that book and the outfit you made to complement it is brilliant!
    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a fabulous week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  7. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing your Emily in action in her adorable outfit fit for an independent princess!

  8. I really like that skirt! It's super cute! I'm not usually into orange, but I love this whole outfit!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

  9. I just love this cant wait for a grandaughter

  10. This is so very did a great job! This would be great to link-up to Create It Thursday #22…it's live now! Hope to see you there!

  11. I loved that book! And this is a super cute skirt, love it! I may have to make one for myself and my lil' girl.

  12. What a little cutie and what a precious outfit! Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

  13. I did see it at nap time creations so beautiful

  14. fabulous skirt and love your fabric choice! thanks for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

  15. I love the way the outfit turned out. The fabric for the skirt is especially cute.

    1. Thanks, Julie! Luckily I still have some of the skirt fabric left.

  16. Such a cute refashion! :) I love the colors and the skirt fabric. Thanks for sharing it at my T-shirt recycling link party!


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