We frequently talk about the heirloom aspect of our hand-made clothing, the timeless design and lasting quality that allows for an Alabama Chanin garment to be worn for years and, in some cases, passed along to a younger family member. While we know this to be true, we don’t often have the opportunity to witness a specific garment change and evolve over time. Perhaps a perfect example: my daughter, Maggie has been wearing the above dress for five years (and counting).
The dress was made for her, cut from an oliver + s pattern, when she was a curly headed, cherub-faced two year old. Made with our organic cotton jersey in Butter and Natural, the dress has been through about a million washes and worn on too many occasions to count. It’s been stained, ripped, appliquéd (to cover the rips), and dyed blue (to cover the stains). No longer a dress but a summer top, she will not give it up.
Eventually, she will outgrow the frock and, while I would love to see her pass it on to her niece, Stella, I’m not sure our heirloom garment will go that way. In the September 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living, deputy editor Rory Evans describes preserving her daughter’s dress, “inextricably linked to my memories of her age-specific cuteness,” by stitching the dress to mat board, framing, and hanging it in her daughter’s bedroom. It’s a clever alternative to folding it away in a box shoved to the back of the attic. Certainly the clothing turned artwork would evoke colorful childhood memories for Maggie (and also for me).
To be perfectly honest, this post was originally planned as a recipe for removing chewing gum with eucalyptus oil – one more thing this jumper has been through. The gum was stuck and smeared in several places on the inside of the dress (and happened when she was in her father’s care, I might add). And then the gum came out in the wash. Amazing what men can miss. Still, there’s so much love in this single little dress that the story needed to be shared. The recipe for gum removal has become a recipe for growing up with a loved garment.
WELL-LOVED DRESS FOR GIRL AGE 2 UNTIL
Paint stencil onto fabric. Cut pattern and construct garment according to pattern instructions. Fall in love with the child as she wears and loves the dress. Later, appliqué scrap fabric over inevitable rips and tears. Eventually, dye dress a darker color to cover the unavoidable stains. Watch child grow and love the dress until it becomes a top. Cherish the memory, share your story.