10 March 2011

The Secret Garden: Danielle of my Sparkle

I don't remember when I first stumbled upon Danielle's blog, my Sparkle, but I loved her header, and the sparkle of the sun and the sparkle in her peaking eyes.  Then I fell in love with her work.  She is meticulous in what she does, both her designs and the execution.  Look at that stitching on her matroyshka doll, and her dress design.  You might recognize the cutie in the third shot.  The "Musn't spoil your frock smock" is one of Danielle's designs, available in her shop
And speaking of cute designs, check out her two cuties.  One word: irresistible.
I am so glad to call Danielle a friend, even if we have never met, and that she is here today to show us her amazing design, and check out her precision!

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Hello! I am quite excited to be here among such creative and friendly souls. Thanks Katy for having me.

There are multitudes of Children's books out there with gorgeous illustrations which inspire to be sure, but I chose instead to draw inspiration from the themes and mental imagery created by The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett for my little project. It's a book that I felt strongly connected to as a child and recently picked up again as an adult and realize...I still do.

It's a long book so I won't write a whole synopsis of the plot, but its a story about children who discover an old locked away garden and the wonderful changes the garden brings about in their lives. Its full of passages about magic and the beauty and wonder of living things. It speaks about sunshine and fresh air and feeling alive. But the thing I connected to most as a child and now as an adult, is the glory of having a special place of your own. A little carved out spot protected from the outside world where you are free to laugh loudly, move naturally and unrestrained, dream, think, create and just be. A little spot all your own. It's a wonderful reminder that its the simplest things that genuinely make us happy.

Children know that innately.

"The Secret Garden was what Mary called it when she was thinking of it. She liked the name, and she liked still more the feeling that when its beautiful old walls shut her in, no one knew where she was. It seemed almost like being shut out of the word in some fairy place."

So for my sweet little child, who is bursting with life-- I wanted to create something that was colorful and whimsical and a little special. An outfit that she would feel pretty in-- maybe even inspired in-- and that would feel good on her skin. One that was comfortable and practical, so she could run, play, explore, and romp around our own garden.

(When the snow melts that is... for now frolicking must take place in the living room.)

So... I made her a romper!

Boy, do I love a romper (don't you!) but for some reason they are hard to find past baby sizes. But I am of the strong opinion that those darling little leggies need to be free to feel the breeze and the sunshine on them.

It turns out patterns (at least one that interested me) for rompers are hard to come by too, so I tackled the job myself. And I know there are folks out there who do this sort of thing in their sleep, but can I just say how thrilled and amazed I am that it actually turned out exactly like imagined! I mean, getting a two and a half year old to sit still long enough to try something on a million times and have things pinned is kind of an impossible feat.

"Might I,' quavered Mary, 'might I have a bit of earth?' 'To plant seeds in- to make things grow, to see them come alive?"
Sorry there are no pictures of the actual pattern making process but if I had stopped to photograph it would never have gotten finished. At any rate, I sort of used the shape of a diaper cover for the bottom part and a really basic dress pattern as a starting point for the proportions and relationship of the sleeve to the bodice... and then changed everything. Still though its nice to have something to start from.

The fabric is a gorgeous dobby dot cotton from Anna Maria Horner. It was kind of thrilling to sew with. So charming and whimsical, but a little bit sophisticated and old fashioned. And doesn't it just look like a happy garden? I think so. And it feels amazing. Light enough to let the breeze flow through, and super soft. Just the thing.

"Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves ans trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden-- in all places."
I designed the yoke to showcase the colorful flowers on the fabric which in its yardage is in little squares-- an idea I actually got from a dress Anna Maria sewed from her own fabric, quite cleverly I thought.

And oh boy do I love an excuse to use a cute button...

The legs are sewn with elastic thread which is a bit more delicate and non-binding than an elastic casing would be. It was my first time sewing with it and it worked quite well on this light weight fabric. Plus I like the little ruffle it creates.

And for a garden inspired frock...petal sleeves seemed quite appropriate! Plus I think they are adorable and love how they let little arms move about with ease. It's quite easy to make petal sleeves from a regular sleeve pattern. If you are interested, come by my blog and I'll show you how.

I asked a lot of this little romper, but I think it fit the bill. My little girl didn't stop giggling and jumping around the entire time she had it on.

"Nothing in the world is quite as adorably lovely as a robin when he shows off and they are nearly always doing it."

Which feels like success!

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I think she's ready to plant some seeds in that romper that begs to be basked in the sun, and it's perfect for when those seeds need to be planted, standing on one's head.  Thanks, Danielle!
[do you think we could convince her to put that pattern in her shop?]


  1. Very cute! Excellent combination of fabric.

  2. I am in love with this little Romper.

    The book was one of my favorites growing up as well, so there is a special connection there. Great job, immaculately sewn, and fabulous pictures of a little cutie!

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. I love the colors! I don't think it would work on my little girl as-is, the potty situation would be pretty iffy ;p I would totally do something similar as just a tunic-length top though!

  4. how adorable! i love both fabrics! and it is all so well made!
    As for those pics, they just bring smile. thank you!

  5. Rompers are my favorite and the colors and texture here couldn't be any better! i absolutely LOVE it. i want one!! And her sweet baby's curls and smiles aren't too shabby either :O)

  6. It's darling! Love it top to bottom.

  7. Love the romper! How adorable!

  8. Such a beautiful and thoughtful blog post. I love all of the details and precious pictures.

  9. the fabric, the design, the post, all of it, amazing. It also helps that The Secret Garden is one of my all time favorite books. My mom read it to us as children and I have the best memories of it.

  10. this is great--and makes me realize I really want to re-read /The Secret Garden/! I love that AMH fabric and I think the way you used just a bit of the floral and then highlighted the stripes is perfect. I'm guessing you have more of the floral panels stashed somewhere after this--have you used them yet or do you have big plans?

  11. absolutely adorable--romper and model!

  12. How beautiful!!! I just love rompers because of their vintage feel.

  13. Oh my goodness, just found your blog! That romper in my most fave fabric of Anna Maria Horner's is delicious. Also my sister and I wore Saltwater sandals as kids and now my three girls wear them. So cute!!!!!

  14. Oh sweet goodness, that romper is the most adorable thing!! I am absolutely loving it, color choice, style, buttons...all of it!! Great job on this Danielle!!

  15. So, so lovely!

    Laura, what about adding snaps to the inseam of the romper? It would give you the same look and give easy potty access.

  16. Oh goodness! I agree about the potty issue...in fact I bought a snap tool to add snaps but sort of chickened out (and ran out of time) at the last minute... so I am thinking that seam will be getting picked apart and snaps added later.

  17. This is gorgeous!!

    I've done a shorts romper with a snap, so it's doable! You could also make this romper as two pieces, bloomers and a top. Then, you have easy access for potty training.

  18. Those pictures of Avery are fabulous. You should enter those in a photography contest. I love the outfit and all the motion in those shots of that sweet girl.
    OX, Mom

  19. Oh my, I just love it! Those fabrics are so pretty and perfect for her. Here eyes make the photos. So beautiful!

  20. Beautiful work with pattern creation as well as fabric choice! I love it!

  21. That is BEAUTIFUL! I love the fabric combination. Such an ADORABLE little outfit.

  22. Beautiful girl, beautiful creation and beautiful post about it all! Thanks so much. I love that AMH fabric!

  23. Very cute!! Lovely EVERYTHING! :)

  24. I love this pattern. Are you selling it? I too am dissapointed with the pattern selection for kids.


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