My sewing machine has been on a shelf since I made the McCall’s 6442 jacket in January, and my blog has basically been on the shelf since then too. But when the temperature fell below 50 degrees earlier this month I got out some yarn and knitting needles (my crafting gateway drug), and the sewing machine soon followed.
This past week my niece celebrated her second birthday and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to create a super simple and sweet gift. Several years ago I saw a post on Amanda Blake Soule’s blog about a princess and the pea set she and her daughter had made together. It really charmed me and has lingered in my mind since that time as a great gift for a little girl.
I loved Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Princess and the Pea growing up. Scratch that, I remember loving the story, but really think I just loved the idea of mattresses stacked high. I’ve always been a champion napper and a sucker for layers of comforters filled with down. However, reading through the story after I bought the book this week (which is nearly impossible to find anywhere in Indianapolis), I realized that the prince has ridiculous standards for a wife, his mom — the Queen — won’t allow him to “lower” himself by marrying anyone but a princess and the princess is definitely not the caliber of girl anyone should strive to be. I mean, if a pea keeps you up all night you probably aren’t going very far in life. Consider that, Princess Polly. But by the time I actually read the story, the gift was made (all but the princess) and I decided I’ll just spend the rest of my niece’s life providing her examples of empowered women. I will not make her a Donna Reed outfit next birthday, promise.
The set comes with nine mattresses made with scrap fabric on the front with recycled t-shirts on the back. Each measures about 6″x9″ and has a little bit of fiber fill inside, which is kept in place by some straight lines of quilting.
Mattresses piled so high clearly need to be accessed by a ladder, which my husband was happy to create using twigs from the back yard. He also created our little double-sided princess (using the book illustrations by Dubravka Kolanovic) who has eyes wide open on one side and eyes closed on the other. I wanted to make a fabric doll to go with the set initially, but soon realized that I didn’t want to get my niece into Voodoo at such a young age (because that princess was going to look like one scary spell-casting doll).
I made a tiny pea using a bit of fiberfill with green thread wound around and stitched through. I’m a little concerned about it being a choking hazard, but maybe her mom and dad can put the pea in a safe place until she’s old enough to play with it properly. In the meantime she can stack and pack the mattresses away in the bag I made. My mom let me know that stacking and organizing is one of her favorite activities these days.
The mattresses, ladder, princess and the pea all fit in a customized little tote bag with pockets on the front. It too was made with scrap fabric and scrap leather. The thread, as with all my projects, came from my great grandma’s stash that was passed to my grandma, and then to me.
Projects like this are so much fun. Quick, collaborative, successful and resourceful. I almost feel confident enough to start on a bigger sewing project soon.