That Color

comments: 135





















It's weird that a woman with no time and a baby that is crawling all over the free world pretty much every minute of the waking day would do something like hand-pleat a big piece of fabric and then smock it by hand and then block it and then baste it and then cut it and then sew it into a tiny dress that needed a ton of hand finishing (linings sewn in, a giant hem). Weird but true, people.

Meems goes to bed at 7 p.m., and I swear, the minute I turn on that monitor and click that nursery door closed my basket explodes, and out bursts the yarn, the floss, the needles, the thread, the fabric. The flying fingers. A flurry of quiet industry ensues, until . . . I pass out around ten. . . . I like it. I like to sit and think about her, about the day, about the year. It's especially nice to do it with my feet up, and my face washed, and my nightgown on, and a breeze blowing through the evening window, and a puppers or a kitters on the bed. Nothing else to do. A deep, deep sigh. Slowly the fingers find their rhythm. One of my favorite parts of the day.

I bought vintage McCalls pattern 2447, intending to use the smocking iron-on transfer that was included, only to find that forty-some-odd-years later the transfer didn't work. So, plan B: hand gathering, using this tutorial. That went fine. I made up my own smocking design and colors. Random. Don't overthink these things or you'll never get anything done. I followed the directions on the pattern for finishing the rest of the dress. It was a handful, but I was in too deep to turn back. Need a hook and eye for the back. Boom. Can't wait to see it on her. The color is just dreamy to me. I must really like this color. It's a dusty pink but warm. I must think of it as Amelia's color because I keep using it for her.

My Lilla koftan? Meh. It's okay. Came out sort of oddly proportioned. Didn't like how the placket didn't overlap. I've seen other peoples' versions of this sweater and they are much cuter. I think I would use a plied yarn and larger needles next time. Make it drapey. The Milk Glass Pink came out quite pretty, though it's still on the blocking board. Too hot lately to put these on the poor child. We had an enormous thunderstorm the other night, however, and that was just awesome. Cool and cloudy today and I am beyond delighted.

Now on my needles is Ravi Junior. Isn't that the most gorgeous pattern? I look at patterns all the time but I only just ran into this one. I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee in the color Chanterelle. It really is such a lovely color. Or kind of a non-color. Sort of brown, sort of pink, like the underside of a mushroom, or a very old ballet skirt, or an antique book about flowers, or the wallpaper from the back bedroom in your grandmother's house in Iowa. That kind of a color. One that's just right for summer's slide into fragrant, cloudy, rose-hipped early autumn.


Bravo on the dress!

What I like most about your blog is your honesty and simple beauty (that so beautifully photographed). And thank you for inspiration and links:)

Rhiannon Edwards says: September 06, 2013 at 03:12 AM

do you have an email address that I could contact you at please?

ooh look at little miss standing up there, my she is growing up so fast. Beautiful dress, exquisite. Miss Meems is one lucky lady.

I love reading your blog. I love your descriptions of that colour.." the underside of a mushroom, or an antique ballet skirt" Beautiful! Have you ever thought of writing your own stories? I know you've published a few sewing books (all of which I own by the way) but I would definitely love to read a novel or short stories by you.
I love making things too after the wee ones are away in the land of nod. Its what keeps things calm and focused and is actually when I do a lot of mental sorting and thinking as i'm doing it.
That smocking - you are so talented! :-)
I really love the posts on your blog that are about what you've made and what you like and you are the best photographer. When i'm feeling down I look at your blog and photos and I feel better for the love of babies, sewing, cooking and life in oregan. Best wishes

Labors of love....

Oh. my. goodness. That dress! Everything, really, but that dress!!! I am in love. Your color choices are sublime.

Your 'Lilla Koftan' turned out beautifully. I made one for my little Reuben, who is 20 months old now - it's such a lovely pattern with so many possibilities for variations. It was fun to knit, and I love, love, love knitting for my babies. There is just nothing better!

Ah, beautiful, as always. =) Fall inspires sewing, I think!

Reminds me of the days when my 4 girls were small,I loved sewing but smocking was my favorite. It was a few years before I got a pleater, but oh so worth it...the dresses just came one right after another till they were "too big" for "that"..haha! I love that you do this,she's a sweetheart with a sweetheart of a Mama who loves her dearly,life doesn't get better than that!

I have been reading your blog for quite awhile now, and I just love your photos. Your daughter is absolutely precious and your home is beautiful.

you are so inspiring! i haven't touched any sewing since june (i do have four children though). but now, with two kids in school and the third starting next week... my fingers are feeling the itch. oh, and i love the way you described the color chickadee.

Very cool cafe decor with all those pictures of wilderness on the walls, and am also loving your dining room table and chairs - very cozy atmospheres!

The underside of a mushroom. A very old ballet skirt. Love love love the way you write :-)

Oh, how I wish you would write a Book of Days or Meditations, or something like that. You have such a lovely way with words -- I find that I really savor those beautiful passages in your posts. Thanks for your shimmering posts.

yes, yes yes, "fragrant, cloudy, rose-hipped early autumn." The very best time of year - and such a perfect colour. I love that colour. Is it brown? Is it purple? Who knows? It always makes me think of little velvety mouse's ears. =)

You make the sweetest little clothing for baby girl, I don't know how you find the energy to get it done but that always turn out so cute! Not too many corgi photos lately...I sure miss seeing that sweet pup face.

Ugh, I can't believe you hand pleated that fabric! It would be worth it to take it to an heirloom sewing store and have it done on the pleater. Or maybe that was a one-off bout of craziness?

And you go to bed by 10, now that's impressive!!!! Beautiful photographs, pancakes and dress.You are incredibly talented:-)

Your smocking is beautiful. Is this your first time? I think not. I have 2 small granddaughters that I smock for. They live quite a ways from me so I'm not sure how much they wear their dresses but I love making them

I have just sighed a VERY happy sigh gazing at your pictures with their muted and yet vibrant shades of colour. I function in exactly the same way; as soon as the kiddies are in bed I grab every possible moment to sew and knit more love. It's a time for pouring all our love for our children into something, hopefully, beautiful made with our own hands. I get it.

If you have a teeny tiny moment I would dearly appreciate you popping over to see my youngest in a flower meadow dressed in Liberty. It's one of my happiest summer memories. Thank you!

I love everything you make.
You are a very talented Alicia.
With love from Greece

Is there a recipe to that pie? Yum!

Susan Roberts says: September 08, 2013 at 05:41 AM

I try to read you blog when it is the weekend and I can take my time with a latte. LOVE the beautiful pictures and your family - all your inspiration and creativity! I smocked for my children years ago and now my grandchildren. It is a beautiful needleart, but not many people do it. I love the smocking, but I do struggle with sewing - not talented like you! I do have a "Read" pleating machine and I highly recommend it although, there are many others.

Please tell us if you will have any of the cute ornament kits available. Thank you!!

I love your beautiful blog! I feel we are kindred spirits. What size is your woven knitting basket? I see them at the grocers and craft shows often. Thank you for sharing these moments in your life.

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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