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!
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...
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.