04 March 2011

The Dot: Meg of Elsie Marley

Guess who's here today!!  Meg of Elsie Marley!  Meg has such a fun and unique style and I think I identify with her because she buys toys "for her kids" but really, they're for her to play with and has color themed food parties.  My kind of girl.  And she does cool things like going to protests and brings her knitting.  She is well known for her Kids' Clothing Week, which is always fun to play along with.  If her kids don't already realize it, when they're older they will be proud of what a cool mama they've got.  I could go on and on, or I could just let you finish reading and  scroll on to her project.  Okay. I'll let you go.

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When Katy asked me to be a part of Once Upon a Thread, I immediately said yes! yes! and then I drew a complete blank. I could not think of a single book that made me want to make something, which is silly because I love children's books and I love making things. You would think this project would be easy peasy. And that's what I thought, but suddenly nothing was inspiring me to sew.


I looked through my kids' books, I looked through some of my friend's collections, I looked in the library, but the more I looked the worse it got. I had maker's block. The more I tried to force myself to think creatively the worse my ideas became. The horrible ideas made me feel like I wasn't creative enough or clever enough or much of a seamstress or all of those at once.


My big crabby, self defeatist attitude reminded me of a little children's book we've picked up from the library a few times called The Dot by Peter Reynolds. It's a simple story about a little girl who is frustrated because she can't draw. Her teacher asks if she will at least make a mark on the page. So the girl slams her marker down and makes a dot.


"Now sign it," the teacher says.

So she signs it, Vasha. And the next day her dot is hanging, framed, in the front of the room. Seeing it, Vasha thinks, "Well I can make a better dot than that." And she does and much crazy dot painting ensues: big dot, small dots, dots made of dots, dots made from the absence of dots. It's a beautifully illustration (literally) of the lesson I often try to teach my children: stop saying I can't and just try. A lesson I obviously hadn't learned myself.


For a while now, I have been dreaming of making my own fabric. The hand dyed and hand printed fabrics (and the beautiful projects made from them ) always appeal to me, but I am rather terrified of dying my own fabric--my bathtub still shows the signs of a botched dip dying experiment. I will try dying again, but the book made me think that there might be other ways to make a mark. Down in the basement, I scrounged some spray paint and an old white sheet. Then on my snow covered picnic table I drew some dots.


So there. I did it. Made fabric. It wasn't perfect, it was scratchy and pilled a bit in the dryer, but hey! I made it. Then I made something out of it: a little peasant top. And it looked better than the fabric did--I made a better dot! And now I want to make more, with fabric paint this time or maybe even dye.


It is so easy not to do something new. It's cliche that we get stuck in our old ways, but we do! And then constantly tell our children to get off the couch! stop whining! try it! you might like it! Listen to your mother, go try it. Go make your dot. Do whatever ridiculous thing pops in your head--you're children always do.


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Here's to making new dots!
Thanks, Meg, for sharing your insecurities and triumphs here today!

34 comments:

  1. love it! this is the first book featured that i've never read and i'm excited to go find it...

    it's also the lesson i needed. thanks meg and i love your dots!

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  2. I too am going to have to add this book to my collection. Great idea, love your dots! Now I am going to go check out your blog too.

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  3. Amen! Thanks Meg for sharing your thoughts and wonderful creativity!

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  4. Love this. Thanks for sharing. I am going to go look for this book now. :)

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  5. What an awesome project. I really want to try this now. Did you just use regular spray paint or was there a specific kind you used?

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  6. so true- if we made ourself do the things/have the attitude we expect of our children we would be in much better shape- Hurray for just going for it :O)

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  7. Completely awesome! Thanks for sharing, Meg! You speak the truth!

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  8. very cute. I saw on lil blue boo that there are spray fabric paints. I am gonna try that. I love how simple and my little one can be involved. It turned out awesome!

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  9. Never read this book. We could use a bit of this book in my house at the moment. Thank you for shareing.

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  10. that is actually very inspirational!

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  11. I like how rather than recreating an item from a story, she recreated the experience in a story. I've not been inspired to sew stuffed toys or costumes, and this post helps me to expand my thinking.

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  12. Also: Filth Wizardry has a great project where she and her girls painted sackcloth dishtowels with watered-down acrylic paint and sewed them into skirts. They turned out pretty fabulous. http://www.filthwizardry.com/2010/08/getting-paint-and-markers-on-clothing.html

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  13. I love it! And I can totally relate.

    Well done.

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  14. Thanks so much for sharing this. Really, I've been completely feeling this way off and on since I started trying to teach myself how to sew in October. Wonderful way to look at things, I should find a copy of that book. =) Truly very helpful post.
    --Kayla
    http://kayla-heartonmysleeve.blogspot.com/

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  15. I love this!! I can definitely identify because there are so many things I would like to try, like making clothes (more than the few I have done), and also dyeing and altering fabric... but it is always easier to keep making familiar things which I am more confident will turn out the way I intend. Thanks for reminding me to just take the leap!

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  16. I looove this! My two loves, children's books and crafts together. As an aside, yes, I wouldn't try dyeing in the bathtub, but get yourself an old tub or something and try it in the backyard or open garage when the weather's nicer. Totally addicting.

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  17. What a darling shirt and great story. Nice to hear even Meg sometimes needs helps feeling inspired!

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  18. aah - we got given that book for christmas - it is inspiring! well done!

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  19. Lovely post...thanks for being so candid with your creative blockage. {can relate}. I haven't read the book but I can only imagine that her outcome was as creative as yours.

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  20. this is beautiful! what great inspiration - i will have to try this out soon!

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  21. Oh I loved this story. Wonderful teaching moment Meg. You stated it all so well and cleverly. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  22. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed your story and project.

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  23. Love the spray paint top! And I couldn't believe the coincidence when this post was followed by Oh Joy!'s post http://ohjoy.blogs.com/my_weblog/2011/03/painterly-perfection.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogs%2FOtkg+%28Oh+Joy%21%29 in my reader. Totally on trend! ;-)

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  24. You are brilliant! I *love* that book and the shirt, well, it's is tdf. Clever lady.

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  25. this is just splendid! I love the thought process behind it! Thank you for sharing the whole story, frustration and all. I think today that you are my hero (frustration abounds these days over here) and I will try to use your smarts around here. I do love how the shirt came out too BTW ; )

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  26. this book looks great! I'lll have to find it. I also love how the spary paint shirt turned out. very cool! i just learned about this series of posts today and I love seeing what everyone has come up with.

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  27. I heart this so much! I love the moral of the story and how Meg made her dot! I am coming back here for more.

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  28. I like the spray paint shirt! I haven't read that book yet, but now I have to go find it.

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  29. I love this so much. What a great reminder just to try and not think too much about it.

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  30. beautiful... love all u shared! hugs xo

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  31. I tried something new last summer and it turned out so much fun and looked sooo cool. this method is meant as a splotchy, mix of colors dye, not an even tone solid color...

    - Using the Rit powder dye, gloves and a water spray bottle, lay out fabric on grass outside. weigh fabric edges down so they don't fly around.
    - Spray fabric lightly with water.
    - Very lightly sprinkle the dye powder on to the wet fabric, vary the intensity of powder to make it look interesting.
    - Spray more water if needed but be careful not to over do it, or make valleys or hills for the water to move around in.
    - let it dry outside for a few hours
    - once dry, shake off any extra powder (or if you see any bare spots, add more powder and water), rinse in cool water till it runs clear
    - wash in washing machine till satisfied. :)

    in the end, it almost looked like water color. Since the powder has particles of different colors to make up the final color, each little color particle stands out when it 'melts' in the little puddle of water. really fun and mostly mess free!

    Enjoy!

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