Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Strawberry Fields

Strawberries are one of my very favorite things. My mother used to take me picking every year when I was a girl and now I take my children to that same farm. It’s the same place my grandmother took my mother and her siblings. We are lucky to live in a city surrounded by fertile farmland. Fresh produce and dairy goods are just around the corner all summer long and picking your own has become a huge family circus. Most families in the city visit one or the other of two very popular places and on peak weekends they’re as busy as a suburban mall at Christmas – and sometimes as mercantile. Sometimes it is nice to have the comradery of a busy event. But for a day in the actual country and the very best strawberries anywhere, we head almost all the way down the shore for Conte Farms. (The sandy soil near the New Jersey shore produces the sweetest and most satisfyingly strawberry tasting berries.) Conte may well be exactly the same as when I was a girl and when my mother was a girl. It’s peaceful all the way down there, even when it’s busy with pickers. The fresh sea air, the quiet countryside and the simple surroundings are a revitalizing break from our hectic city lives. We look forward to it every year, so you can see why I needed a very special strawberry picking outfit for baby girl’s first time.

What could be more perfect than the strawberry print from Lecien’s Minny Muu collection, one of the first things I stashed when I started buying girl fabric last year.

Usually, it’s pretty warm by the time strawberries are out, so I looked to my favorite summer sundress pattern, the Oliver + S Popover Sundress. I sized it down to roughly 18months and made the ties ¼ inch as in the doll pattern for better proportions.  The tiny straps perfectly show off the scrumptious baby arms.

The straps and piping are from a shot cotton left in my stash. I find shot cottons especially good for bias strips and even linings because they’re much softer and drapier than quilting cottons. The colors blend well with prints because they’re not too solid.

For mobility, I shorted the dress to a top and paired it with the Puppet Show shorts in Robert Kaufman chambray I had left from this winter's Playdate Dress

I realize I’m not nearly the first to say this, but I just love those Puppet Show shorts! The little round pockets and the little gathers at the cuff are downright precious. They suit older girls too, looking cute but not babyish.

Spending the day in a sunny field requires protection. I started with McCall's 4478, but replaced the decorative lace edge with a deep brim for functionality. Flat piping and straps to match the top complete the outfit.

The Popover Dress finishes beautifully. There are French seams at the sides, the bodice encloses the skirt edge and the bias straps finish the armsyces, so there isn't a single raw edge to fret over. This is one pattern for which I actually prefer to use quilting cottons. For one thing, fabric with a little body helps give the dress some structure. Also, the scale of the dress works very nicely with the bold prints that might overpower a small child in other patterns. Of course, as you see here, small scale or even solids work well with this too, especially if you balanced it with small, colorful details. There is plenty of scope to embellish this with lace, rickrack, piping or applique.

We had a beautiful day picking strawberries. Kitty tasted her very first strawberry. Though she’s probably too young, it didn’t seem fair to let her sit and watch the rest of us enjoy them so much. She tasted one gently and then she couldn’t get enough, as if nothing since mommy’s milk had tasted so delicious. It was hard to stop her after just one.

With many thanks to the team at George Aubrey Photography, for helping me showcase my work with these masterly shots!

1 comment:

  1. absolutely adorable! love your choice of fabrics and shortening the dress to a shirt is so practical for a baby.