You and Me Sewing Series – A Japanese Sewing Pattern

Enjoying the summer so far?  My six weeks off were amazing and filled me with ideas and inspiration.  I’ve got great plans ahead, including improving my photography and Photoshop skills, as well as getting started on creating patterns.  Look out for that in the months to come!  In the meantime, I am bringing back a little post that appear on my friend Jenya’s site While She Was Sleeping a couple of months ago.   I’ll be back soon with more details about my six weeks off (including scoop about an amazing trip to New York City to shop for fabric)!


When Jenya first told me about her idea for the You and Me sewing series, I loved it right away!  Sewing has brought me closer to my girls in so many ways but mainly, I really enjoy creating something that brings them joy.  And having them wear with pride something that I made by hand creates a special bond between us.  My friend Thea made me realize recently that my sewing, photographing and blogging was creating a legacy for my girls, a beautiful memory piece for them when they are older.  I love to think of it that way…

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I have fully enjoyed how fellow bloggers in this series have taken Jenya’s idea and interpreted it in their own special way.  My first thought was to make a matching outfit for myself and one of my girls.  Now, I have to admit, I have never made matching mommy-daughter outfits and the thought of it certainly made me giggle.    Not really my style.  But then again, it hit me that I did have a women’s pattern that I had just been dying to make… the Caroline Party Dress.  And of course, it comes in both kids size and woman’s size.  I had already made it HERE and HERE for the girls, but I hadn’t yet found the time to make one for me.   Hummmm… perhaps I could make matching Carolines that would be based on the fabric that I would choose for the adult dress?  Brilliant!  And so I proceeded with taping my pattern, tracing my size, pinning my fabric, cutting my fabric….

But then something starting nagging at me…  every time I would toil away in my sewing room, my eyes would fall on this book.  It’s a Japanese sewing book that I purchased last year.  I already made a couple of breezy summer dresses for Alix from it and she loves them.  But from the day the book arrived from Amazon, Alix  had not stopped asking that I make her a dress like the one on the cover.  I had told her last year that yes, I would make one like that.  And then fall arrived and it just seemed to make no sense to make such a summery sundress.  Yet she kept asking me if I could make her that dress.  And I would say yes…. right after I finish this or that.  And next thing you know, a year went by…

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Now we all know that when a child points to a garment that they like, they are normally referring to the fabric.  At least that’s the case with Alix.  Although I’m sure she was attracted to the bubble skirt and the flower-shaped ribbon at the waist, what was really catching her eye was the white polka dots on the sky blue background.  Luckily, sometime during the fall, I had been shopping at the local thrift shop and had found a large fitted sheet with the exact white polka dot on blue pattern.  Serendipity!  I had excitedly shown it to Alix and told her that now, I could make her the dress!  And yet that fitted sheet still lay folded in my fabric stash 8 months later….

Do you see where I’m going with this?  Jenya was asking me to show how sewing nourished the bond between mother and child.  I couldn’t think of a better way to show that than making exactly what Alix had been asking for, pattern, fabric, headband, ribbons and all.  My Caroline dress would have to wait…

Needless to say, she was beyond excited to see the finished dress and had to wear it immediately.   What follows is our 6:30am photoshoot, since she HAD to wear it to daycare that day and I knew that it would never look as clean and ironed ever again, haha!  So I just followed her for a while, letting her be herself…

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Notice that long string hanging from the dress in the picture above?  No?  Me neither…

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This little girl… there is truly no one like her…  she’s passionate, she’s loud, she’s fearless, she’s strong, and of course, she’s incredibly stubborn… Yet at the exact same time, she’s also gentle beyond her years, generous, nurturing and maternal.  And funny, she is insanely funny!  Alix is my middle child.  From the moment she was conceived, she has kept us on our toes and made her presence known.  She never ceases to amaze and surprise us…

In June 2009, I was in my final month of training for my third Ironman Triathlon competition.   I was in top shape and confident that this race would be my most memorable yet…  Little did I know how true that would be!  With four short weeks to go before the race, I learned that I was eight weeks pregnant.  I was shocked!  Happy of course, beyond thrilled actually!  But still shocked!  Chaughan and I had many long conversations about the upcoming race.  We spoke with doctors and sought their advice about the safety of completing such an arduous endurance event while pregnant.  We concluded that since I was already fully trained for the event, and in fantastic shape, it should be fine to race as long as I kept it at a slow and steady pace, and be fully prepared to stop if it was all too much.  Four weeks later, Chaughan and I proudly crossed the finish line at Ironman Lake Placid 2009, hand in hand.  I was three months pregnant.

And from that day on, Alix has not stopped “racing”…  she moved something fierce while in utero.  I was past my due date and she still wouldn’t settle into a final head down position.  My “unstable lie” had to be manually turned and still, she kept doing backflips, kicking around all internal organs along the way.  And then, five days past my due date, there was another surprise.  I had excruciating pain on my lower right hand side.  I knew I wasn’t in labour.  This was very different.  And it wasn’t going away.  After 48hrs of intense pain, doctors finally realized that I suffering from a torsion of my right ovary and as blood flow had been cut off, the ovary was quickly necrotizing.   My dream of a beautiful and natural home water birth was instantly replaced with the harsh reality of an emergency c-section in the middle of the night.  But everyone was healthy and in the big scheme of things, everything was perfect… (besides, I didn’t know then but little Gaëlle would arrive two years later at home, in the water, just like I had imagined it…)

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And today, that little Ironman baby is still racing through life at full speed, slowing down just long enough to smell the flowers or spill some milk!  Fiercely independent, she’s constantly surprising us (and often scaring us!) at what she’s able to accomplish once she puts her mind to it….

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And of course, by dinner time, Alix had DIYed a princess cape to accessorize with her new dress…  Maman t’aime Alix!!! XXX

Jenya, thank you so much for inviting me to join this beautiful and heartfelt sewing series.




9 thoughts on “You and Me Sewing Series – A Japanese Sewing Pattern

  1. Natalie! This post is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long time. And Alix’s sweet little face… I could melt! What a great story. I feel like I know you so much better as a fellow woman and mom. I’m also over-the-moon impressed with your history as an Ironman competitor. Simply amazing.

    1. Sarah, you are the sweetest! Thank you so much… I think it’s about time that I start sharing a bit of myself, instead of just my creations, no? I realize that not everybody actually reads my post, but when people do, like you, it allows us to connect so much better. Thank you for that! And yes, I do have the Ironman in my blood… I will get back to it someday, when the girls are a bit older and training because feasible again. Now you know why I am so impressed with your crossfit journey… I understand the dedication it takes to stick with it and the huge psychological switch required with that commitment!

      Thinking of you and your two boys in your new home!


    1. Justine, sorry for the incredibly tardy response… I guess “motherhood” had me occupied with other matters lately, haha! But I just wanted to thank you so much for your kind words… I am a big fan of yours so your comment is very special to me!


  2. Hi Natalie! I so love this post for several reasons. It showcased your talents. Your photography is beautiful! Your daughter is so enchanting. I loved reading your story. I had no idea you were a triathlete. My, you are talented in so many things. Also, thank you for that lovely reference. I really appreciate it, dear friend. Keep up the amazing work. So excited for the goals you have set! ~Thea

    1. Thea, I am incredibly late at replying to my comments and I apologize for that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your beautiful beautiful words… as always, they have a great impact on me!


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