Designing With Toddler


Western Prints

I have been hanging onto these adorable retro Western prints for a couple of years now. Aren’t they cute? My son’s room has a vintage Western kind of thing going on (I refuse to say “theme”) and I wanted to make a quilt for him with these fabrics. But I hadn’t been able, as of yet, to come up with a pattern that would show off the fabrics well enough but still be interesting to look at.

Quilt Pattern

Until last weekend. (Insert angel ahhh chorus here.) This is the Big Dipper quilt from The Buggy Barn, on the cover of their book “Stir Crazy.” It’s hard to see from the picture, but the colors are coral & turqoise with some plums and browns. Anyway, I love it. And, I’m even (she says, heart pounding) planning to make it as written.

Now, I know you don’t all know me that well yet (welcome new bloggy friends!), but let me just say that somehow I have been installed with programming that says making something from a pattern will brand me as a creativeless hack with no inner life. Interestingly, when other people make things from a pattern I do not have this judgement about them. What I think of them is “Wow, isn’t he/she crafty and that project is awesome!” (Usually followed by, “Where did you get that amazing fabric?”) Whether or not said crafter has or has not used a pattern doesn’t even enter my mind. I’m just awed by their fabulousness.

But for some reason I apply a different set of rules to myself. I know this is irrational. But I can’t shake it. So I’m taking a big (weirdly back-a**wards) leap of faith, and I’m going to make the quilt on the pattern. Without improvising. And show it on these very pages. The fact that this makes me break out in a cold sweat should not alarm you.

It gets worse. I asked my toddler if he wanted to sew some fabric with me. Actually, he’s 3 1/2, pretty much not “toddling” anymore. I need to stop calling him that, but “kid” just doesn’t convey the pain and suffering joys of parenting a 3 1/2 year old. He loves to sew “faberick” with me, so we went into my studio, and I showed him the pile I had pulled to make his quilt. He said, “No Mom. I don’t want those fabericks. I want it like the picture. ”

Like the picture? Exactly like the picture? Not just from the pattern but a carbon copy duplicate of the quilt in the picture? (I think in real life most of that was just in my head. I do make an effort not to traumatize him influence his opinions too much.)

Okay. Fine. I can do this.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

So I hit the stash. I was surprised I didn’t have more turquoise since it’s one of my favorite colors. But most of what I have is really modern prints and I wanted to kind of go old-y-fashioned-y with this quilt. It’s not a perfect match, but it’s not too bad, actually. And the good news is that I’m being soothed by the fabric, so the whole “making the pattern exactly down to the fabric” thing isn’t bugging me. As much.

Fabric From Stash

Anyway, this is what I was able to pull together: I showed it to my boy, and he said, “Hmmmm. It’s okaaaay.”

Me: You don’t like it?

Him: It’s not quite right. (Yes, I think he picked this phrase up from me.)

Me: Well, do you want to pick your own fabric?

Him: Yeah! (I’m paraphrasing. I think what he actually said was, “You pick me up so I can get faberick up there for to make the blanket with you. Like the picture.”

The fabric shelf is out of his reach. This is by design.)

Toddler Choices

This is what he picked. Well, at least he understands contrast.

I tried one last time to show him the fabrics I had pulled, but he said, “But Moooom, I want pink circles! And dark stars!” What impresses me about this is not that he knows what he wants (he comes by that honestly) but that at the tender age of 3 1/2 he already knows how to say, “But Mooooooom…” in that kind of swoop-y teenage “I can’t believe you’re actually trying to convince me your completely uncool idea is worth considering” tone.

At least he hasn’t learned how to roll his eyes yet.

Meanwhile, apparently I need to go shopping.





22 responses to “Designing With Toddler”

  1. Peas in a pod, I tell you. Those two (my wife and my toddler): peas in a pod. Why, God, why?

  2. Oh….he is soooooo cute. 3 1/2 yrs old and he already knows how to charm his mother. You have to make something out of the fabrics he have chosen. And the buggy barn pattern is so beautiful.

  3. You just wait, very soon, he’s going to want his own sewing machine. 😀

  4. Your toddler is so much like Max. Yeah, you can’t pick things out for Max because he has very advanced ideas about his own taste in things which, he was assuring me from the first day out of the womb, is completely different than mine.What can you do? This way you’ll get to make something that your toddler will want and you’ll also be able to say that you are perfectly capable of making quilts from actual patterns EXACTLY as they are written.

  5. I love, love, love the fabs and the Buggy Barn pattern too! I would make the quilt and then replace the BB photo with your own photo. Just like Folger’s Crystals! Ahhh the art of deceptive parenting!

  6. Awww! “Faberick”!I had a similiar experience with my daughter lately – she’s 9. I purchased beautiful 30’s looking fabric with butterflies to make her a quilt. When I showed it to her, she asked to hit my fabric stash. Completely different choices.

  7. You are so entertaining and have such a way with words!!I have an almost 3.5 year old myself and they come out with the funniest things don’t they? So are you going to use the pink circles and the dark stars???? : )

  8. Love this fabric for your son’s room!!! I would also love it if you would enter me in your cottage giveaway! Love your blog. I will be a regular visitor!

  9. You’d think with that big ol’ stash of fabric you have, you and Little Guy would find just the right thing. Cute story.~Jody

  10. claudia d Avatar
    claudia d

    What an adorable story! Hey, the kids knows what he!

  11. OMGosh! These fabrics are gorgeous and the quilt will be wonderful. My mother quilted. She made a quilt once with patches, and pockets from my baby sister’s jeans she had saved through the years. She used a cowboy-hanky material for the back in red and white. She gave it to my son. A few years later, my baby sister (19) was killed in a car accident. To say the least, we cherish that quilt. My mother has passed away now too, but she left us with such a beautiful quilt of memories for her and my sister. Thanks, you have inspired me to share this in a future post on my blog. xoxo

  12. Cute story. Your son sounds

  13. Michelle Avatar

    Okay, I am so that way with patterns, too! What is up with that? The last couple of quilts I’ve been working on I just went ahead and designed myself.Cute fabric! I like all of the combos – and I think you should go ahead and use the ones you have picked out. You can do two quilts? And you have to go shopping for more fabric? How very sad. I know how disappointed you must be.

  14. Oh I think he chose some interesting faberick indeed. I remember my daughter wanted a dress when she was quite tiny – to match the tablecloth – she loved the tablecloth. I tried to talk her out of it and took her to every fabric store in town but……in the end one dress no tablecloth !What a great idea to comment every day for an entry – i like it !

  15. VintageGirl/Heather Avatar

    Adorable! I have the exact same cowboy fabric (the one with the wee boy in the red shirt) I purchased it a few months ago at the local Amish fabric shop. Heather

  16. I loved your story. My daughter likes to quilt and when my grandson was about 3 or 4 he hated to go to the “terial” section of the store! (material)…LOL Brings back memories!!

  17. LaTeaDah Avatar

    Very cute! I love those fabrics — when my boys were toddlers I made western shirts for them that they wore with jeans and cowboy boots and a cowboy hat they loved! They would have loved a quilt as well!LaTeaDah

  18. Flash forward fifteen years: “Mom, why did you force the stars and pink fabric on me when I was too young to know better!?” :)I only say this because I have 3 sons who do this to me now that they are so smart.Answer: someday you’ll have kids…

  19. Great post – my 4 year old daughter has very definite ideas about what I sew for her and wants to choose all her own fabrics and patterns. She is very likely to refuse to wear or use things that she’s had no input to. I sometimes explain that certain colours don’t really match – her stock response is “but they do to me”.By the way, I love all the fabrics you’ve posted!

  20. LaTeaDah Avatar

    You wrote: ~Oh, that’s too cute! I don’t have the patience to make clothes (clearly, I barely have the patience to make *anything.* Heh. Do you have pictures? I bet they’re adorable. ~A :-)I think I do have some pictures — I have one little cowboy outfit that I remember photographing. The little cowboy is now 22, so it takes me a few years back (but I feel like it was just yesterday; really — the years fly by!). I’ll see if I can scan a picture and share with you. . .:) LaTeaDah

  21. I just love Buggy Barn ~ I am working on ‘Just Friends’HugsDiana

  22. Diane L Avatar
    Diane L

    what a brave soul you are saying I will do it exactly as it is written..I am not nearly that strong, I always just have to do something different….groan. But I do love what your son picked out, what taste!So glad I found your blog, love it!ThanksDiane L