Monday, December 5, 2011

Sewing: Clothing Inspired by A. A. Milne and E.H. Shepard

Did you see Katy's Once Upon a Thread series? Such a great idea. I love combining two of my "loves": children's books and sewing. In case you missed my book-inspired creations I'm sharing them here today, including a tutorial for a darling red boiled wool jacket for baby. Need a quick solution for a just-in-time holiday photo?

The classic A.A. Milne stories weren't so much a part of my childhood, but part of the child within me, which was as he intended it if you believe what is written about the genesis of these beloved books. I didn't read them growing up but I loved the idea of them as childhood books when I was a young adult. I bought the first set of Winnie-The-Pooh books when I was on a heady trip to London fifteen years ago. I was having success in my job as an advertising account executive, was lucky enough to be on a European business trip (stayed in the Savoy on top of it all!!) and had a few hours to spend at Harrods where I, among other things including eating in their food court, perused their children's book section. I was unmarried, and a long way away from having children as it would turn out, but that didn't stop me from packing home a small suitcase of children's books including "Winnie-The-Pooh" and "The House at Pooh Corner."

These editions were published by Methuen Children's Books, the original publisher (Methuen & Co. Ltd.) of the Alan Alexander Milne books beginning with "Winnie-The-Pooh" in October of 1926. The illustrator, Ernest H. Shepard colored, or should I say, "coloured," his original line drawings fifty years later and these are the images I have admired for years for their freshness, informality, and animation.They bring the stories to life so beautifully! 

Despite all the advantages of contemporary animated versions of Pooh (including more stories for Pooh fans--A.A. Milne stopped writing the Christopher Robin stories to protect his son from the publicity of it all), I prefer the texture of these illustrations. There is something about their "scratchiness" that I find endearing!

And, since this series is all about sewing, which for me means all about sewing clothes, let's talk about the clothes! There are so many inspiring images here for anyone who loves classic children's clothes. I mean, really! I would love to sew up every piece in Christopher Robin's wardrobe! I love the blue and white plaid ensembles, and the red and white!

I love his crisp white and loosely fitted shirts. And with shorts? And wellies? How can you resist?

He has a great collection of hats too.

And I love that he ventures out in these darling "play clothes" no matter what the weather. There is such an authenticity of childhood in these books. My girls too can't wait to run outdoors in any weather whether they are attired appropriately or not.

And then there are the animal friends. They have their own great wardrobes and I especially love Pooh's little red jacket. A bit shrunken, so perhaps I'll refer to it as a shrug. The fit in these original drawings just makes me giggle! It's a bit stretched across the chest and won't fit over Pooh's belly. Wide at the neck. Much more interesting than the plain red t-shirts, which are often substituted for his uniform.

I could keep sewing and sewing out of these books...but I started with a Winnie-The-Pooh boiled wool shrug for my baby. Such a great layering piece for cooler weather. I love boiled wool and have been wanting to sew with it. And since it is cooler, I made her a couple layers to go underneath: a crisp white shirt and a red gingham skirt. 

It was a rather blustery day in our Hundred Acre Wood, but that didn't stop Tess from venturing out on an Expedition!

It may not have been as much fun for Piglet however, as he was carried around without the benefit of his shirt or scarf.

And the only time Tess would hold still was while swinging, so we did.

Tut-tut, the next day it looked like rain. But then it snowed.

Which meant it was time for a big black umbrella, and boots. Audrey, my Christopher Robin, braved the weather, which really wasn't all that cold, in her own crisp white shirt and red and white checked shorts, to take her little bear out for a walk.

I love the relationship between Christopher Robin and all of his friends in these stories. Such loyalty and teamwork and a shared sense of adventure! Qualities we should never outgrow.

"Christopher Robin's" red gingham shorts were sewn by tracing a pair of her elastic waist pants. Her shirt was sewn from this vintage pattern:

"Winnie-The-Pooh's" blouse was from this Whole Grain Baby pattern (I lengthened the sleeves and added the ruffles to them). I made the skirt by gathering a length of gingham leftover from some other sewing. And the Winnie-The-Pooh shrug is a pattern I drafted to share with you--it is based on a little jacket worn by our own stuffed Pooh.

Click to view the tutorial. UPDATE: The Winnie Shrug pattern is here in sizes 3 months to 10!


You will need to download this PDF pattern, 1/3 yard boiled wool (ideally--though fleece or felt would work) and a 1.5" covered button. (The pattern was designed to fit a 6-12 month-old. You could adjust the seam allowances a bit to change the sizing and alter the button/buttonhole placement.) Print out the two-page pattern, cut out the pieces and then tape pieces A and B together matching the dotted lines. (The Winnie Shrug pattern in sizes 3 months to 10 with a full color tutorial and digitally drafted and graded pattern is available here.)

Cut out the shrug with the pattern piece aligned to the fold as shown on the pattern. Cut out two of the sleeve pieces, on the fold. Cut out the armhole on the shrug.

Fold the sleeves in half, right sizes together, matching the short ends. Pin and stitch using a .5" seam allowance.

Though boiled wool doesn't fray, I zigzag finished the raw edges of the sleeve and shrug pieces. I think it looks nice.

Hem the sleeves by turning them under .5" and stitching.

Hem the shrug piece by turning it under .5" along all the edges and stitching down. You will have to ease and adjust this hem a bit along the curved front.

Now lay the shrug flat and overlap the fronts. Mark the tops and bottoms of the armholes for fitting the sleeves.

Fit the sleeves by pinning them to the armholes right sides together, aligning the raw edges. Match the underarm seam on the sleeve to the bottom of the armhole and the opposite side to the top of the armhole.

Stitch using a .5" seam allowance. This arm opening is too small to fit around the arm of my sewing machine so I place my sewing foot inside the armhole and stitch this way:

Trim the seam allowance close to the stitching line.

Make your covered button following the directions on the package.

Using your finished button as a guide, cut a button hole the right length for accepting the button, but not too large. Though it's not really necessary, I zigzag finished the edges of the buttonhole.

Stitch on your button and you have yourself a Winnie-The-Pooh little red shrug!



SHARM said...

WOW... you are very creative your kids are so lucky to have you as their mom... I love these outfits...

CountryBelle said...

Adorable! Love the pics with the umbrella!

MC said...

Annaliese- I just don't even know what to say! I'm always in awe of your creations!

klee1 said...

Absolutely adorable!! I love this!
Your girls are beautiful!!

Anonymous said...

Superbe petite veste !!! De très beaux enfants !

Anonymous said...

You make me wish I had little girls again, so I could dress them this way. Hope for a granddaughter someday :) Truly, your creativity just shines.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful again! I love everything, especially the tiny little red coat.

Anonymous said...

The outfit your older daughter is wearing is just like the Malaysian kindergarteners outfits (and likely many other Asian nations, they are just so adorable, I wish we still used similar outfits in our schools.

Giliell said...

This is gorgeous, as always. The two of them seemed to really enjoy their foto-session

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a lovely post. You are so talented and full of imagination. :) I especially loved the story behind it; it is nice to get to know you.

Carolynn said...

Oh...My goodness! You are so clever and your little angel girls are adorable!
Every little detail is incredibly sweet!!

Karyn said...

Absolutely love Once upon a thread and your projects.

Meags Keogh said...

These are magical. My mum just bought my eldest daughter (who just turned 6) "Now we are six" by A.A Milne and I have to say I am loving it. Pooh pops up every now and then on the pages and the sketches are just gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.

needlekrafter said...

Anneliese-- your girls are the most beautifully dressed girls in the world. I wish that I could sew adorable patterns such as that, but for boys. I'm in awe of your many God-given talents!

needlekrafter said...

and Winnie the Pooh's Christopher Robbin has been one of my favorite characters since childhood. What a perfect tribute to him.

Rachel said...

So cute! Your girls are adorable! You are so talented with your sewing machine! Mine just eats everything I put near it!

Heather @CommonplaceBeauty said...

oh my word these are amazing. You are so talented! Just subscribed to your blog so i can see what you do next :-)

Jade@How to Sew a Dress said...

Whether you do it to save money, for fun, for the self fulfillment, or to be prepared in case of an emergency, sewing your own clothes can be a good idea.

ankle wellies said...

Absolutely adorable! Love the pics with the umbrella!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't get much better than your wonderful Blog. Just wanted you to know that I love looking around here. My kids are grown and my 14 grandson would probably resent a winnie the pooh jacket but I do love looking. Precious stuff. :)

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