Friday, May 28, 2010

Elephants and a new tiny doll

It's the end of May. I'm not sure where the time went, but Little e is 10 months old, and the school year just finished. YIKES! Miss E's preschool had a wonderful end-of-year party this morning, so I made gifts for the teachers. Actually, gifts for their children. You see, it's a very small school, in operation for just one year. It is perfect. The children, parents and teachers all get along so well and we have created this fantastic community, just the way it should be.

Miss E has grown very attached to her teachers. Each teacher has been bringing her baby to school since the fall, and the babies are now toddlers, walking around and over a year old. One teacher is moving away, going back to Louisiana with her family. Her older daughter is Miss E's age, and the two have gotten to know each other over the past nine months. At this age, or at least with Miss E, the concept of friends is not fully developed to the adult definition. My somewhat shy and often very reserved Miss E was very quick to correct me in the fall when I referred to a schoolmate as her "friend". She said, quoting me, "No, Mommy, I don't know her well enough yet to consider her my friend." Three months later, she tried to say the same thing, but I said that after several months, she should be able to tell me if that is a friend. What I came to understand was that because it's such a small number of children, they are all friends and all interact very well. Some are more outgoing than others. However, Miss E can tell me all kinds of cute stories about each one of them.

So Miss E's teacher and friend are moving away. A very difficult thing to truly understand, though Miss E can tell you all about it. I wanted to make something for them as a going away/thank you gift, and one night it finally came to me. (I have to have it all planned out in my head and it has to seem just right, or it just doesn't happen.) I'd just recently seen the uber-cute pattern from Heather Bailey for Effie & Ollie the elephants, and I knew I already had an elephant pattern in the "Toys to Sew" book I have. There's the saying of "you've got a memory like an elephant," and that stuck in my head. Elephants. Memories.

Later, I had the revelation that this would be the perfect time to use the Riley Blake fat quarter combo I purchased a few months back. If I cut a full elephant from each fat quarter (there are four fabrics), then I could mix them up so that each elephant had each of the four fabrics used on it, representing that each girl (my two and the two moving away) has given a piece of herself to the others. A lovely way to show that we will never forget their friendship and the wonderful year we've had, watching all four girls (and the rest of the school) grow and learn and develop.

I will admit that the pattern I had was far from optimal. Again, the book was disappointing in the instructions and pattern markings. There is way too much assumed and far too little detail written. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the designer patterns I'm becoming accustomed to, but it sure does help to know where to join up all these little tiny pieces, you know? The first elephant was very disappointing. We said it looked like a drunken pig with a stretched out snout. Sad. As I went along, though, I found ways to make the legs work better, and the end result was very cute, especially with all four elephants lined up together. Miss E and I named them (left to right in the photo above) Dotty, Flora, Ivy and Birdie. Dotty, the first one, went to Little e, who will just chew on her and not mind her gross imperfections. Ivy was Miss E's final choice. Flora and Birdie went to our friends.

After the second elephant, I ordered a copy of the Heather Bailey pattern. It looks far more detailed, and I can't wait to find the time to try it out ...

I also wanted to make a gift for the second teacher and her now-toddler daughter. With the leftover scraps of the fat quarters, I pieced together a little tiny toddler doll, also using all four fabrics. She got an orange flower for her hair, matching the elephant sisters. I sketched out all kinds of hair options, trying to recreate this adorable little girl that would be the recipient of the doll, and finally settled on a little hair flip that seemed to work. When I finally turned the doll right-side-out a couple of days later, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. She was perfect; exactly what I wanted for Little Miss B. Isn't she just adorable? (As adorable as Little Miss B ... almost!)

I photographed the new tiny doll with my Little e's doll from Christmas. Little e has put her mark on her doll, for sure! Hers shows lots of signs of wear, including some nice yellow spit-up stains. For months now, she has made me so happy ... her favorite toys for chewing on and sleeping with have been the ones I've made her; primarily this doll and the bird I made from the Spool Sewing tutorial. She knows how to make a mama smile!

As we wish our friends a fond farewell and best wishes for their move back to Louisiana, we hope that the elephants will get a whole lotta love ... and come back to visit their sister elephants in Austin many times!

1 comment:

Nichole said...

Teary eyed. Thank you again so very much Gina. You are so very thoughtful. We love, love our little doll with the flipped up hair do - just like Bea's. Just as cute, I think!

Oh, I think Ms. L and the girls may come visit us sometimes in September! Woo hoo! I'm sure they will stop by TNC to visit.