Just after the birth of our oldest daughter we found out that my brother in law would be marrying his English love and we braced ourselves for the international flights with a baby. We were excited to spend 6 magical weeks exploring with our little one and as I researched locations, the seamstress within me marvelled at the beautiful kaleidoscope of cultures we would be experiencing. This fascination led me to a search for historical images of buildings, styles, cultures and even writings from each country we were going to visit. I’m no historian, but I used this information as inspiration and started sketching.
From my sketches I searched through Spotlight for fabrics that could translate my ideas into something I could touch. From the fabrics I cut pieces directly, using estimated measurements of what my daughter may fit into by the time we arrived.
It was a labour of love and with very little previous sewing experience it was certainly a learning curve. The satisfaction, though, of packing each little handmade outfit info my suitcase was awesome.
We took a photo of her in the same pose in every country on our camera and then, to my devastation, our camera was stolen in the last week of the trip. It has been over two years of me living in denial that the photos will turn up. (If you have EVER seen our images before on a lost photos site or anywhere on the net PLEASE contact me!) The image below taken in Bath, England, is an example of how the originals were framed (pictured in regular clothes)
We lost beautiful pictures of our daughter in my hand made outfits at stunning locations in each country. But my husband, ever the optimist, offered up the contents of his phone which contained some snaps too. And here they are. They’re not all positioned properly and we don’t have any clear shots of the outfits from Greece, Wales or Malta but I still have the memories right?! So here they are.
Based on traditional Turkish kaftan with an ottoman style print this outfit was one of my favourites. I added a built in onesie to keep it in place and it turned out to be perfect for the glorious Turkish weather. She was so comfy with her little bare feet. The photos were taken at the incredible Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and Hagia Sofia.
St Peters Square, Vatican City
I chose the Papal colours (yellow and white) and went for a softer yellow to mirror the stone found throughout the area. The outfit was styled on the Swiss guard, who patrol within and around the Vatican. I took cues from their uniform, especially the collar and overall shape, and made it a sleeveless version for practicality in the hot summer.
The English outfit was a special request from the bride and groom. Royal blue and baby’s breath to match the wedding party. The back has a large heart shape cutout because: weddings.
Scotland was always going to be a tartan! It’s amazing how much fabric went into this tiny kilt and sash. I have Scottish heritage and enjoyed learning about the various family tartan designs and ways it has been used historically.
I modelled the Ireland outfit on the shape and cut of traditional Irish dance costume but had to estimate the size (as we were over a month into our trip once we hit Ireland) I estimated wrong! The top was way too big! In the closer images you can see the black fabric used for the arms and skirt is quite detailed. It was chosen based on fabrics I has seen pictured in various lavish Irish castles.
The French was the first design I was sure about. Madeline school uniform adaption using the colours of the French flag. I also wanted to incorporate the length of the red scarf worn by a woman in Renoir’s famous “Le déjeuner des canotiers” painting. It ended up matching so beautifully with the flowers at the Luxembourg gardens.
I searched far and wide for fabric that was both brilliant white and ‘Mykonos blue’ to reflect the stunning coastline of the island. Houses and buildings scale the hillside in these striking colours and the loss of this photo was the most disappointing. What a sight it was! The design was tricky to execute, in a full wraparound double-breasted toga style using various different fabric panels and fastenings. What I do have to show is some shots while we walked along the beach during the day and my number 3 little munchkin Essa modelling the outfit two years on.
Moo was wearing her Welsh outfit when we crossed into Scotland due to a campervan disaster that threw off our British leg plans. It was a tiny, two toned waistcoat paired with 3/4 pants made from an imitation tweed. I based the design around historical images I found of Welsh fishermen in a similar style paired with the Welsh heritage of making tweed. She has a jumper over it here (pants still visible) and I’m so sad to have lost the original pic taken in the ruins of an Abbey (jumper not part of design)
The photos for this design were lost along with our camera. They were originally taken within the Grand Masters Palace (location pictured below) in the beautiful city of Valetta. Moo modelled them again during a cultural day (her great grandmother is Maltese) when she was two years old and much too big for it. Sadly, our backyard is a rather sad backdrop compared to the original. The design was based on images of Maltese cultural dress and was originally long sleeved and full length reflecting the “church clothes” of the devoutly religious country.
If you found this article interesting please share FAR AND WIDE! I still live in hope that somebody, somewhere, has come across my little memory card and can return it to us.
I rely heavily on photographs to remember events, as my memory goes fuzzy and blends together over the years. A single image brings me right back into that moment. The sights, smells, weather, feelings and conversations. I lost my firm grip on hundreds of those moments with the camera.