This was the question I asked myself when I saw the summer design call from Sanguine Gryphon posted on Ravelry. The theme was English Garden and the very first line was “A Monet painting come to life.”
I love Claude Monet. If I could (literally) lose myself in his paintings, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’d walk through the poppy field at Argenteuil, watch the haystacks over the seasons, cross a bridge over a water lily-covered pond, and picnic every summer evening in his gardens at Giverny. (Yes, I know Giverny is in France, not England. Work with me here.)
Of course, I design children’s patterns…so if Lexie were to lose herself in Monet’s garden, what would she wear?
My favorites among Monet’s paintings were done in the late 1800s and early 1900s, so I did some online research into children’s clothing of the era. Exact historical accuracy wasn’t necessary, of course, since I just wanted the general feel. I found pictures and some fascinating articles–my favorite was a reprint of a 1907 Ladies Home Journal article on “Good Taste and Bad Taste in Dressing Children” decrying the trend of over-dressing children beyond their years into stiff fashion plates. I decided to take their advice and aim for simple, tasteful lines.
I collected my inspiration onto a board on Pinterest, calling it Children of Monet. If you’re not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard where you save bookmarks and pictures on websites by “pinning” them to boards you create. I loved the ability to keep all of my inspiration in one place and to have a visible reference at all times.
So, back to Lexie in the gardens in Giverny…I could see her strolling around in a little summer dress, so what knitwear would she need to make the outfit complete? After all, summers can be warm…ah, but what about summer evenings? Maybe a summer evening picnic, when the air has cooled, the flowers are gilded by the last light of the setting sun, and the air is full of the scent of night blooms? Clearly, just a light cover-up would be required, a simple short swing cardigan to throw on over the sundress and keep those bare shoulders warm.
I pulled three of my favorite elements from early 1900’s girl’s clothing: the puffy sleeves (short ones were just coming into fashion for girls to allow them more freedom to play), Dotted Swiss fabric, and lace collars. But for my design the puffy sleeves were slimmed for more modern lines. Likewise, the lace collar was simplified, the cardigan allowed to swing open, and subdued eyelets replaced the Dotted Swiss fabric. An equally important update for the modern (and busy) parent: a seamless knit worked from the top down, so your little girl will be ready to show her style at the next summer evening picnic in the garden. And that gave me…
Lexie looks set for that picnic, but I did just toss the cardigan on over a handy dress…what about a little girl dressed to the garden-walking nines?
Above 3 pictures are (C) The Sanguine Gryphon, 2011, and are used with permission.
Who brought the picnic basket?