Little Prairie

comments: 219


PATTERN: McCall's 5257 (out of print)
VIEW: A (modified)
SIZE: Newborn
FABRIC: Unidentified calico, from Mill End Store

In open-adoption parlance, it's called The Wait. It's the period of time between the time you've finished jumping through all of the official hoops (the paperwork, the interviews, the fingerprinting, the background checks, the homestudy, the medical exam, the writing of the autobiographies, and the hardest: the creation of the photo album)  and the time you get The Call, meaning that a expectant birthmother wants to meet you (or, in many cases, that a baby has already been born and needs a home). The Wait can, theoretically, take four days or four years (or more, I imagine). That is, it takes as long as it takes. Each situation is unique, and, since you're waiting in The Pool (and not in a line), you really have no idea how long you will be waiting. Like a good Girl Scout, I can't help my tendency to want to Be Prepared, so a nursery is papered and painted, a crib is assembled, a stack of diapers stands neatly next to a stack of burp cloths, and one of those ubiquitous beige gliders awaits. (But man, those things are comfortable. If I had known, I would've gotten one a long time ago and just kept it around, as ugly as it is. It's more comfortable than our couch.)

Apparently, some people find The Wait to be very difficult, and some people really enjoy it. Since we are just at the beginning of ours, we don't have much more than a month's perspective on it, but it is at once both harder and easier than I thought: Harder some days to have patience and maintain faith that (as everyone insists) it Will Happen; easier to distract myself from worrying that it Won't by working toward achieving one of my Parenting Goals of creating the Most Adorable Baby Wardrobe in the Whole Wide World.

Well, that can hardly be considered work! To wit, Exhibit A: Baby Prairie Dress. Pure sweetness of a Love Saga variety. This was an old pattern I've had in my pattern box forever. It's now out of print, but I found a few on eBay and one of the descriptions said it was from 1991. When I opened the pattern a few weeks ago, I saw that it had already been cut to Newborn size. I wonder who I made it for, way back then. Can't remember. There are pinafore and bloomers that go with this. I followed the pattern exactly except that I left off the Peter Pan collar and placed the elastic at the bottom of the sleeves instead of in a separate casing above the hemline, which would've created a little ruffle. But I love the full, frothy calico-ness of this. It's so full it reminds me of a big round dandelion puff.

Here's what I tell myself about The Wait: If it's not long enough (as if this could actually be considered a problem, but let's just say), I won't have time to make all of the wee clothes I've been daydreaming about, because everyone tells you that once the baby arrives it's all poop and crying and bottles and baby giggles, and you don't have a single second to sew for, what, like eighteen years or something? (I stand in bewildered awe of all of you moms, including my own, who sew with little ones at your feet. Amazing!) On the other hand, if The Wait is too long, I'm going to run out of hangers.

I won't run out of fabric or ideas, though. I have a million. Andy too. Get ready for an avalanche of homemade baby things by the Paulsons. It's gonna be so much fun.


You are now officially an expectant mom. Welcome. :)

I'm so excitied!

Dyepotgirl says: March 03, 2010 at 04:04 AM

What a lucky baby you'll have! It will definitely happen when it's supposed to. I'm sure that there's a baby out there waiting for the circumstances to be just right to make her way to you. I think that waits and roadblocks happen for good reasons, it's just that we don't always know why until later. I'm sure that you'll be great parents and she'll be the best dressed baby around! In the meantime you get to dream all about her, just like every other parent. Happy dreaming, I know it was one of my favorite things!

First, let me say that you will sew again once the little one comes, granted you will probably sew a lot less, but you will sew again, lol. I struggle somedays, wanting just a little time to myself, and at the end of the day I can't fathom how the entire day came and went and the only time I had was at 5 in the morning when I tortured myself to get out of bed just to have a few silent minutes.

I really loved your post. It touched me in so many ways and reminded me of when I was waiting for my little one to come into the world. Grated our situations were different since I was pregnant, nonetheless though, I remember having those same feelings of waiting. If you want take a look this was my first post on my personal blog.

Happy waiting and happy sewing!

Happiness is spilling out of me right now, happiness for you and the new family you will soon have.

Oh lovely! I'm waiting for my third child to be born in May so your tiny dress is completely inspiring. Can't wait for the forthcoming "avalanche."

We know for surely that she will be well worth the wait!!!
Blessings to you & Andy. :)

ps. love the dress :)

YEAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am more excited about what you are going to make for this little girl than almost anything else I can think of right now!

Happy, happy! So happy for you both. Let us know if you need more hangers -- I'm sure your devoted readers will gladly oblige!

Ten years ago today our wait was over, you've made me so nostalgic, the crib, the rocker:) a closet full of clothes. You can do this, and believe me, it's an amazing ride. I wouldn't change a minute of it. Thanks for letting us come along.

Love the dress - and how wonderful that you're approaching "The Wait" with such a great, positive attitude. It sounds like it doesn't have to be a drag of a time. :)

Miss Mama says: March 03, 2010 at 06:52 AM

Very exciting! Very, very, very! Just so you know, I find that I have time (single mom, two kids, back in school) for everything I really, truly MOST want to do. There are many things I THINK I want to do, but then I realize I only want to do them for silly reasons... so there is a lovely thing about art and motherhood that I call focus and that other people (also me, sometimes!) call panic. Motherhood has been fabulous for me as an artist and person. If you ever, ever, ever want to ask for details on HOW or WHY or anything along those lines, drop me a line, though I think you have plenty of resources! Best wishes! Love the dress!

What a darling dress! I can't imagine how the wait must be. Though hard, the sweet thoughts and love in your heart will be a time you will never forget. The anticipation.

I agree about making the clothes big. I made a gorgeous wardrobe for my newborn son (a ton of kimono outfits, rompers, etc) and then he weighed in at nearly 10 lbs! They're now the outfits for his waldorf-style baby doll. I wish we had been "expecting" at the same time; your projects make me wish we had another on the way!

Best of luck to you!! She couldn't be the daughter of more lovely parents.

I am so excited for you guys! I am going to be living vicariously through all your baby adventures and the beautiful things you're making for her!)

I am so excited for the two of you. I was adopted as a newborn and handed into the loving arms of my mother, my soulmate. I don't think I could have loved her any more if she had birthed me herself. Everything I make and do is in honor and in memory of the wonderful woman that took me into her world (hence, the name of my blog).

Good times and lots of love are in store for you and Andy!

Jacqueline says: March 03, 2010 at 08:50 AM

Good luck with the waiting. I struggled to wait for the week that my son was overdue! I'm sure your little girl will love all your handmade things. My son's favourite jumpers (sweaters) are ones hand knitted by his grandmother. His favourite toys are ones made by his dad or grandad, and get played with again and again. My son is seven, and quite good at letting me get on with making things, so I'm sure you will be back creating lovely things before eighteen years area up. I do remember, though, thinking that I could never be ill ever again, as I had this little person to take care of. It's all so worth it in the end.

i'd put the span of years you won't sew at more like six to eight... and your projects may change, as you gravitate toward things than can be made in 20 minute increments......the thing that will REALLY change for a good long while, is the neatness of your home... (although what do I know? I have two boys and am a bit of a slob myself -- one girl with a neat mother might be a whole different story)....

My mom sewed for all four of us kids, matching outfits for all holidays including my brother who finally rebelled about 8. Anyway, please keep sewing even with your daughter in the house, she will learn the way I did and my daughter is right now. It will be great.

Adorable dress! Thank you so much for sharing your experience - I'm so excited for both of you.

Tonya Peters says: March 03, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Alicia, such exciting news for you. I know COMPETELY what you are going though as my husband and I have been in The Wait mode for over a year now. Our journey to happiness has been compicated by job loss and recently a forced move to obtain new job in a different state, thus we are just starting over with EVERYTHING! But I maintain HOPE and dream of the day the little one will be carried through the door. I pray your journey will be blessed and The Wait not too long! (ps. we just moved to the great PNW too! so now I can enjoy the green lushness although I don't think I'll be able to capture it by photo as well as you do!)

Oh, you'll learn pretty quickly how to balance a baby across your lap while you sew. You might find that she finds the hum of the machine to be rather relaxing. But mostly you'll find how to make time when you didn't think there was any. (But that might not be until she starts sleeping through the night - until you both start getting more sleep, feeding, cleaning, and cuddling might be the most you can handle, and that's just fine!)

bring it on paulsons ;)!

Hi Alicia,
I haven't commented here before but I read your blog all the time and I just saw the last three posts all at once. Oh my goodness! Congratulations, good luck, and what a lucky baby to be coming into such a warm, loving home to such fantastic people. I'm so excited for you, I just had to say so.

Quite possibly the very BEST way to spend "the Wait" I've ever heard of. I bet the feeling of knowing there's a little one out there to sew these precious outfits for is AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

I hope the wait is just the right amount of time.... and I love that prairie dress. Does it come in big girl sizes? Oh wait, I would just look silly in it!
That being said, even when she gets home you will still have time for all of that sewing/crocheting/knitting silliness. I did, and it is just me. You will just not have as much, but sweetie, it will be there, because you have adorable little dresses to make so she can have LOADS of pictures taken in them with Miss Clover (oh and the rest of the family too.. we shall not forget that).

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at