For the next week to ten days my blog posts will relate in some way to my favorite childhood author, Laura Ingalls Wilder http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Ingalls_Wilder. Wilder wrote a series of Little House books telling stories of her pioneer childhood on the prairie. Three of the books, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter, and By the Shores of Silver Lake, were set in Kingsbury County, South Dakota. I grew up on a farm in neighboring Lake County.
Laura reached another generation through the TV series, Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983) starring Michael Landon as Pa and Melissa Sue Gilbert as Laura, affectionately called "Half Pint" by her father. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_House_on_the_Prairie_(TV_series). (Some of you may be old enough to remember Landon as the disarmingly handsome Little Joe on the earlier TV series, Bonanza.)
On July 9, I will meet up with my son Tim and daughter-in-law Carrie and their two children to attend the annual outdoor Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in DeSmet, South Dakota. You can see the trees planted by the Ingalls in the background. Granddaughter Madeline (almost 7) has become a huge Laura fan, and wanted a prairie dress, "and a sunbonnet, too, please."
I had made two prairie dresses before. One was for my daughter Allison, Madeline's Auntie Al. She wore it to Pioneer Day in first grade, 17 years ago. She picked a black calico with tiny flowers. The other was for granddaughter Katy. Hers was blue calico, and it won both First Place and Best of Lot ribbons at the Nebraska State Fair in 2006.
Madeline wanted pink, and I was able to find a bubble gum pink reproduction fabric, Little Pink Stars (1840-1890) by Margo Krager for Blue Hill Fabrics (www.bluehillfabrics.com) at one of my favorite local quilt shops, The Cosmic Cow (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cosmic-Cow/149605151761698). I used a Children's Prairie Dress & Pinafore pattern, Folkwear 213. Although I bought it several years ago, it is still available on the market: www.folkwear.com/213.html. Let me warn you, it's an ambitious project with lots of gathers and a fair amount of hand sewing!
Although I didn't make hand sewn buttonholes on this dress, as I did for Katy's, I did find some wonderful ½" wooden buttons, which helped to give it an authentic look. Sarah Attard of Brisbane, Australia offers an incredible assortment of wooden buttons in her Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/heartsupplies. In hindsight, I should have used white thread to sew on the buttons, though. I doubt Ma Ingalls had pink thread in her sewing basket.
Signing off for now to head to my day job. I still need to hem the dress, sew a pinafore, and sew a sunbonnet with a full brim and gathers ( I decided not to use the one shown on the Folkwear pattern illustration). I also plan to make a farmer boy muslin shirt and cotton britches for Madeline's little brother Garrison. I found a great little round-topped straw hat for him. All this needs to be completed before I head north to SD on July 8. Yikes! Time to shift the Janome into high gear.
LeAnn aka pasqueflower