The Princess and the Pea

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.

the princess & the pea (2)

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.

mattreses (2)

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).

ladder, pea, princess

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 pea (2)

the peas (2)

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.

bag & princess (2)


11 responses to “The Princess and the Pea”

  1. Amanda S. Avatar
    Amanda S.

    Just too cute! Maybe all that stacking will inspire some sort of engineering/construction gene. If you’re worried about the “princess” message, just track down a copy of the musical “Once Upon a Mattress” starring Carol Burnett. That’ll take care of any “delicacy” problems!

    1. Claire Avatar

      Thanks, Amanda. Love it! We’ll have to supplement with ‘Once Upon a Mattress’ in the future (and now I’m going to have to track it down and watch it again because it’s been too long.)

  2. Patti Avatar

    What a cute project to get back to sewing and blogging with! I love it!

    1. Claire Avatar

      Thanks, Patti! I have a whole list of other tiny projects as I continue to wade into the world of crafting again. Sewing doesn’t really feel like riding a bike.

  3. amanita80 Avatar

    I love this! And I loved the post. Chuckle chuckle… I’m kind of glad Coraline does not care at ALL about princesses. 🙂 But it is a super cute project.

    1. Claire Avatar

      Yeah, I guess any girl who gets compared to Patrick Swayze in Road House is about as far from princess interests as they come. I love that kid and will come up with the perfect tiny toy set for her some day.

  4. maryannk Avatar

    I think this is awesome and I, too, loved the story growing up. (Even though I’m semi-empowered now). I recall putting a marble underneath my sheets once, rolling on it all night and hoping I’d wake up bruised to show I was as “tender as a real princess.” Bahahaha. Nut case. 🙂 As a side note, you could always sew the little pea to one of the mattresses and she could stack it on the bottom? It’s such a cute pea, I’d worry more about it getting immediately lost probably more than whether it’s a choking hazard. But anyway, I love this project.

    1. Claire Avatar

      Thanks, Maryann. I love that you slept with a marble under the sheets and it really doesn’t surprise me at all coming from you 🙂 Your thought on stitching the pea down is a good one, considering I definitely lost it for about 10 minutes already.

  5. Ashley Danks Avatar
    Ashley Danks! Claire- you are amazing. What a lucky niece you have!

    1. Claire Avatar

      Thanks, Ashley! It was a lot of fun (and even more so because my husband helped a lot). 🙂

  6. […] about seven weeks ago. And apparently tiny humans are my only excuse to sew (see: here, here and here). The quilt I made for her new baby evolved from something totally flat and lifeless into a piece I […]

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