Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Super Girls

One of my biggest pet peeves is parents who throw a birthday party for their child and say, "No presents, please."

Dude, it's not your grandpa's sixtieth birthday party--let your four-year-old get the prezzies!

Perhaps I'll feel differently when the girls are older and there's a birthday party every week (although there nearly has been for the past couple of months), but frankly, I have ALWAYS loved to get gifts for kids. When my baby cousin Katie was born I was all of nineteen, and I vividly remember having the best time picking her out a little outfit with watermelons on it at Gymboree. I remember how awesome I felt when I scored my little cousin Zack's most coveted Rescue Hero toy for Christmas, hidden behind some less popular toys on a shelf at Wal-mart. Another time I bought him a stuffed hedgehog that could really roll up into a ball, and I bought Katie teeny-tiny little panties with hearts on them at Baby Gap, and once Matt and I went in together on a cool little batting machine that had Zack throwing a tantrum by 11:00 am on Christmas morning because he couldn't hit the freakin' ball.

I've coalesced my present-buying strategy a bit over the years, into one in which I no longer actually buy presents, and I get an even bigger kick out of it. Last Christmas, with Matt's help, I made Katie a set of bookmarks with quotes from the Twilight books on them, and I made Zack a redneck T-shirt quilt--John Deere logos, and Gone Fishin' illustrations, and a lot of camouflage. This year Katie has requested a T-shirt quilt made from her own T-shirts, and Zack's present is still a secret, but can you say Tuba Playa?

Anyway, I don't attempt nearly that level of meaning when I make presents for the girls' little friends on their birthdays, but a five-year-old is a five-year-old, and they all like pretty much the same stuff. I've made buntings for kids, and crayon rolls, and play dough, but for Willow's bestest little friend's birthday this weekend, a friend who has been a bestie for enough holidays that I do believe I've already given her a bunting and a crayon roll AND some homemade play dough, a new awesomeness was in order:
I'm super-excited, because I have been wanting to make the girls superhero capes for EVER. It took a while to figure out a pattern that pleased me (it's all about putting the proper angles on the trapezoid), and it took even longer to figure out the kind of closure that I wanted, but I think I nailed it. The capes are a little on the narrow side, the better to keep out of kids' ways, because the lamest thing around is to be flying around all super and to get caught in your stupid voluminous cape. But the closure? The closure?

Let me tell you about the closure.

I thought about ties, and these work pretty well because you can do them loosely, but I don't know a single kid who can tie her own shoelace, much less her own cape under her chin. Snaps are a sure-fire way to get a kid to hang herself from a tree limb or a chimney post or something, and Velcro? I dislike sewing Velcro, although I will under duress.

Instead I, and this is brilliant, used super-stretchy narrow elastic, stretchy enough that a kid can actually pull the cape on over her head, and stretchy enough that if she did snag herself on a fence, there'd be plenty of give to get herself untangled. Hello, Montessori independence!

So yes, one for my girl, and one for my other girl, and one for a little friend whose party is next weekend, and one for the little bestie, which looks like this:

It's monogrammed with her initial on it in upholstery remnant fabric (washed on the sanitary cycle first and hot-dried, because there will be no running dye on my watch), and on top of it are resting the girls' presents. A few months ago, feeling like I was sort of bogarting the whole birthday present business by taking it upon myself to make the present for each of their friends myself, I made up a rule for them:

When attending a friend's birthday party, my child must do one of the following:
  1. Buy the friend a present with her own money (the only money around is earned by doing chores, mwa-ha-ha!).
  2. Make the friends a present with things found around the house.
  3. Give the friend something of her own.

And that's why Willow bought her friend, with money earned sorting laundry, a set of Halloween yo-yos and a Christmas candy, and Sydney gave her the yellow ball with sparkles in it that is almost her favorite toy.

A super birthday, then, for a super friend. And I am absolutely going to stock my etsy shop this week with some capes made from fleece blankies, with the option of a free upholstery remnant monogram, and perhaps I could have done that today, but I didn't.The super girls had some super stunts to do over at the park, you see, so we were far too busy for money-making.


Anonymous said...


The elastic is a stroke of genius. When my kiddos were little, I opted for velcro, but then they would always have this scraped skin area on their necks and chins! They have surrvived into teenager land without visible scars, but dang if I wish I had thought of using elastic instead! I'll just have to file this away for future Grandbaby sewing. MANY years from now, thank you very much.

Angela Pea

cake said...

i think that this photo, with the red capes, is THE photo for the etsy page. and then, some close-ups of the fabulous detail, of course.