Swedish Sunshine

comments: 130


PATTERN: Simplicity 3510
VIEW: Bodice with three-quarter raglan sleeve (modified to eliminate tucks)
FABRIC: 100% shirting fabric from Fabric Depot, lace is vintage from an estate sale

Thank you for the music recommendations! I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all the bands you suggested, so I am looking forward to doing that while I sew this week. At some point over the weekend I remembered that I have to, like, do some actual work again. My scrap basket was absolutely overflowing, so I began cutting my scraps into more 2 1/2-inch squares, and now I have a new handbag design I am really excited to show somebody. I am still working on the prototype, but after four tries I think I have got it. Get ready for some bitty squares, some linen, and some (yes) smocking! Oh, and do you like the color of apple blossoms?

The past few weeks of sewing these little dresses has been so much fun, and so relaxing, somehow. On a physical and, dare I say, an existential level. As I sew I think about the past and, for the first time in such a long time, the future. I think about what it will be like to have a new voice here in the house, and new sounds and smells. I think about what our animals will think about this new little critter in their pack. I think about the baby books we're reading, and the adoption books we've read. I think about the children's books I want to collect, and the songs Andy will write and sing. I think about pockets holding acorn caps and crayons and crumbs, and I think about hems and sleeves being shortened or lengthened once little arms are in them. I think about summer camps and skateboards. I think about birthparents and birthfamilies. I think about walks in the woods and campfires on the beach, and stars. I think about teeny, tiny toes. I think about the view of three dogwood trees from her bedroom window, and wonder if someday she'll move her bed so that she can wake up and look out of it, the way I did. I think cloth, or disposable? I think about all the ways in which the preparations we are making now will no doubt someday make us (and everyone we know) fall over laughing at our naivete, but I love thinking about that, too. You do your best to prepare, knowing that the reality will be whatever it is (because really, what has ever turned out how you expected?). I want to fill this time with the work of our happy hands and the highest hopes for all of us, the way any parent would. The preparations: I hope they turn out to be mostly functional. But symbols have a function, too.

Shelling Peas, Carl Larsson, 1908 

This little gingham dress is inspired by two of my great inspirations, artists and parents (of eight!) Carl and Karin Larsson, whose rooms were filled with children, food, flowers, fabrics, fresh air, animals, handmade things, art, peace, sunshine, togetherness, and love. Just like I want ours to be.


I must say that reading what your planning and thinking about makes me smile. Not at all because of naivete... No. Because reading what what you wrote makes me think again how magicical being a child is. And really, how magicial being a parent is too. I forget sometimes. You are making a wonderful world for your soon to be and it is nice that it rubs off on us too.

Susie Sears Taylor says: March 24, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Remember, don't be afraid to ask for help and don't be afraid to tell well meaning loved ones to back off. And, don't forget to introduce your child to the One who sent her to you.

Such romantic thoughts.... I hope they all come true!!

I have visited Carl Larsson's home, years ago. It's everything you expect it to be. And the bridge (also in his paintings) is beautiful. I want to have that atmosphere as well, oh yes. I think it's good to focus on those wonderful, magical pieces of parenthood. So many times everyone (including myself) focus on the tiresome stuff, the lack of sleep, tantrums, sickness, you name it. The thing is, those things aren't the ones that matter. The laughter and tickling and explorations (sticks and puddles!) do. And handmade clothes :)

The pockets on the diagonal are TOO cute!

My favorite post of yours ever. It's all SO TRUE...we just do our best to plan and then roll with it.
One more thing to look forward to...bedtime books that YOU are actually into, too. I'm reading "Charlotte's Web" to my 3-year-old and 4-year-old girls and we are all loving our first chapter book together. They look forward to bedtime every night now so we can visit with Wilbur and Charlotte and Fern and everybody else in the barn. Love it. We're moving on to "The Trumpet of the Swan" next.

Such lovely lovely sentiments here. All the hope that new life brings...

What a wonderful post! My babies are grown up now (all 5 of them!) but they have blessed me with (so far) 7 lovely grandchildren, and I can tell you that as a grandmother it is just as delightful to be thinking all the sweet things you wrote about today. After reading your review of Simplicity 5695 I just HAD to run out and get the pattern myself and start sewing. Here's the link to my first one, if you're interested: http://dorothy-comewhatmayandloveit.blogspot.com/2010/03/american-girl-dress.html

Thanks for a delightful and inspiring blog!

ok, this one is my favorite. i mean, i ADORE all of them (your little one will be the best dressed girl in portland!) but i have a thing for blue i guess. i especially appreciate all the love that goes into the details of her wardrobe; it's so apparent!

I think this is my favorite dress yet. It reminds me a lot of a red gingham dress I had as a little girl, which was my favorite until I outgrew it.

Love Carl Larsson! Makes me proud to have some Swedish blood in me. His images were a part of my growing-up. Just there always, in assorted places. Such a gift for a child to get a Carl Larsson-inspired dress!

Very sweet. All of it :-)

martha in mobile says: March 24, 2010 at 01:08 PM

I love Carl Larsson's artwork! While you are thinking, remember to cherish what you have right now -- your quiet hours, sleeping in, reading the entire newspaper in one go, spontaneously dining out...these will flee (temporarily) so appreciate them extra-extra while you have them. Then you can bid them a fond adieu when your next exciting chapter begins.

Absolutely love all the little dresses, what a lucky girl will be wearing them in the future.
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder and that you pass it on to your child(ren).

itchinstitchin says: March 24, 2010 at 01:12 PM

My favorite dress so far. I love it. Looking at your blog is one of my favorite parts of my day. Thank you for sharing.

I can't wait to see pictures of her in all of these beautiful clothes that you've made for her!

what a sweet little dress!! every one i think is my favorite and then you make another...and it's my favorite! your daughter will be so lucky to have such thoughtful and loving parents.

I love, love, love Carl Larsson..I'm of Scandinavian descent and I adore his images. I so enjoy your site..
Val :-)

You sound like any expectant mother. Welcome to motherhood. By the way, disposables. I used cloth and it really is alot of work to rinse them out, wash them and fold them. A baby uses hundreds a month. Do you really want to be spending your time cleaning poopy diapers when you could be cuddling your little one? I wish I had had that luxury.

What a lovely lovely post... and a simply lovely dress.

Love the dress, and am very inspired to sew again for my daughter (we adopted 6 years ago) As she gets older it is harder to find the sweet things she still enjoys wearing. Oh, and I did cloth one pieces with velcro, a paper liner and a cover. Very easy if you are a load-a-wash-a-day type. And that puffy little bum was awesomely cute!

I love anything by Carl Larsson. I especially love his dining rooms whether inside or out. That's the place our family comes together.

Your new handbag sounds great, can't wait to see how you used the smocking with it and apple blossoms . . . cherry blossoms . . . ah Spring, can't wait, but we just got a foot of snow so I'll live Spring through your posts.

Loving your latest wee dress! I imagine your little girlie having her hair in braids when she wears this one. :)

I adore Carl Larsson - perhaps it's my Swedish side of the family heritage speaking to me. Such dear and charming portraits of life.

Happy happy dreams of a sweet future expanded by chubby rosy cheeks, button noses and giggles all around!

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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 aliciapaulson.com