Monday, August 17, 2009

beatrix's* gift

"They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree."

Jan gave me a great pattern for a child's play circus tent several months ago. She'd picked it up when her daughter was young and like a lot of the patterns I've bought for my girls - it never got made. I doubt I'd have made it in the manner suggested on the cover of the pattern (it looked very much like a circus tent complete with clowns on the fabric), but inside there were some variations suggested. A rocket. A clubhouse. Why not the base of a fir tree?

The actual artwork in The Tale of Benjamin Bunny reads "Josephine Bunny licensed to sell TEA & TOBACCO". This is my pc version - we all know lavender is rabbit tobacco anyway, don't we?

For tassels I used some twine or jute that I had in the stash. I have absolutely no idea why I had it, but it works. I think they're suggestive of pinecones.

A quick shot of the back. It took me weeks to make a decision about how to handle the applique elements. I knew the technique I'd use - just cut out the shapes and zig zag the raw edges to the base fabric, but I had a hard time deciding what to applique. I had visions of a bird's nest on the roof and a robin flying nearby. Flowers were going to surround the base of the tent. Then I came to my senses and realized that I could never do justice to Beatrix Potter's artwork in applique - at least not on this project. Simpler was better. I used the grass appliques from this project as my guide for the grass here. Scraps from the roof were used. Kona cotton in a deep brown was used to create the illusion of crevices in the root of the tree. I have a Peter Rabbit illustration on cotton fabric sold for applique work that I intended to put on the tent near the front flap, but have left it off for now. I couldn't get the placement right in my mind and liked the idea of Trixie pretending to be one of the rabbits more. The only thing I tried to copy as closely as I could was the sign on the base of the tree for Mrs. Rabbit's livelihood.

The pattern wasn't hard at all, but it does use a lot of fabric - about 3 yards of the green and 5 yards of the beige. A hula hoop provides the round structure. It's enclosed in a casing on the interior. What I liked most was how well the pattern was designed (by Judy N. Johnson in 1983). All the raw edges are enclosed at some point during construction so if you didn't have a serger, the finished project looks neat both inside and out.
The pattern also calls for more involved hardware than I chose to use to hold it up. I found that some office rings I had on hand slipped through the tabs at the top nicely. We had another hook on hand (again, I have no idea why) that worked to gather them all and provided a way to hang it off the playset in the yard.
It's surprisingly roomy inside. I had my doubts when I looked at the size of the hula hoop, but then again, I'm not 4. Both girls fit inside quite comfortably. The height from hem to top of the hook is about 6 feet.
It's my favorite thing I've ever made - for now.
*Yes, Beatrix is Trixie's full name, but I don't think she knew that until recently. No, I don't have a problem foisting my Beatrix Potter obsession on my children.
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Anonymous said...

This is pretty incredible. I hope to attend a tea party here sometime. Though if it so happens that Trixie is in bed and "tea" is mojitos, that would be fun too.

Harriet M. Welsch said...

It's gorgeous! I would have coveted something like that when I was Trixie's age.

Trish said...

I bet they LOVE it. Now, are you willing the part with the real BP stash too?

Rebekah said...

Absolutely adorable! What a fun fun gift for a little kid...I love all of the little details that you added.

blackbird said...

My goodness that's a beautiful thing.

Little Miss Sunshine State said...

(catching up on blogs after vacation)

That is amazing and beautiful.