Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Do you find that there are some books that you read as a child that have stayed with you?  My list includes Mrs Pepperpot, Pippi Longstocking and Mary Plain.  Then when a bit older, I loved the Little House on the Prairie series, Chalet School stories, Famous Five and the Jill and her pony series

 I loved the book "The Cuckoo Clock" by Mrs Molesworth when I was a little girl. There is a digital version here.  Published in 1877, it was old then, so I guess it is positively ancient now.  It was a book my mum loved as a child and she encouraged me to read it.  How I wish I had my copy here so I could show you the illustrations in our copy. In the story the heroine is sent to stay with two elderly aunts.  She thinks it is very dull and boring until she meets the cuckoo who helps her to enter magical worlds.  I am wondering if Little I will enjoy it too.  She does love imaginary worlds, fairies and magic so maybe. 

One of my favourite parts of the story is when Griselda visits the world of the butterflies and they dress her:
"He flew off, and was back almost immediately, followed by a whole flock of butterflies. They were of a smaller kind than Griselda had hitherto seen, and they were of two colours only: half were blue, half yellow. They flew up to Griselda, who felt for a moment as if she were really going to be suffocated by them, but only for a moment. There seemed a great buzz and flutter about her, and then the butterflies set to work to dress her. And how do you think they dressed her? With themselves! They arranged themselves all over her in the cleverest way. One set of blue ones clustered round the hem of her little white night-gown, making a thick "rûche," as it were; and then there came two or three thinner rows of yellow, and then blue again.

Round her waist they made the loveliest belt of mingled blue and yellow, and all over the upper part of her night-gown, in and out among the pretty white fills which Dorcas herself "goffered," so nicely, they made themselves into fantastic trimmings of every shape and kind; bows, rosettes–I cannot tell you what they did not imitate.
Perhaps the prettiest ornament of all was the coronet or wreath they made of themselves for her head, dotting over her curly brown hair too with butterfly spangles, which quivered like dew-drops as she moved about. No one would have known Griselda; she looked like a fairy queen, or princess, at least, for even her little white feet had what looked like butterfly shoes upon them, though these, you will understand, were only a sort of make-believe, as, of course, the shoes were soleless.
"Now," said the cuckoo, when at last all was quiet again, and every blue and every yellow butterfly seemed settled in his place, "now, Griselda, come and look at yourself."
He led the way to a marble basin, into which fell the waters of one of the tinkling brooks that were to be found everywhere about the garden, and bade Griselda look into the water mirror. It danced about rather; but still she was quite able to see herself. She peered in with great satisfaction, turning herself round, so as to see first over one shoulder, then over the other.
"It is lovely," she said at last. "But, cuckoo, I'm just thinking–how shall I possibly be able to sit down without crushing ever so many?"
"Bless you, you needn't trouble about that," said the cuckoo; "the butterflies are quite able to take care of themselves. You don't suppose you are the first little girl they have ever made a dress for?" "

All this is a roundabout, long winded introduction to the fact that two weeks ago I made Little I a set of butterfly wings for her birthday.  I am wondering and thinking how to make a dress of butterflies though...wouldn't that be a fabulous outfit for a five year old?  I am thinking not too literally, just layers and layers of tiny, light, gauzy wings in different shades of yellow and blue. 
Anyway, back to the wings, I was inspired by the pattern for dress up wings made by Melissa from Tiny Happy
I printed out the page but I couldn't read the dimensions on the pattern so instead I just folded my fabric in half and cut out the wing shape freehand straight into the fabric. I didn't bother to draw the shape out first.  I used one of Little I's jackets to  give me an idea of how long to make the wrist-shoulders-wrist length.  I used some sparkly, silky white fabric that had come out of a bin bag from a friend's mother for the back.  Then I laid my white wings over the front fabric and cut around them to have two matching shapes.  For the coloured side I used a length of brightly patterned chiffon-type fabric found in the charity shop about a year ago.  I was careful to use the pattern so it was symmetrical on the finished wing shape.  I just machine stitched the wings right sides together with a small hole left fot turning them out. 

Finally a trip to the nearby fabric shop for some elastic and sequins.  I am sure the lady there got her maths wrong as I bought 2m elastic, 1 metre pink sequins and three tiny ribbon flowers and she charged me...wait for it............45p! So, then I spent my ten minutes a day waiting for the children to finish school, sitting in the car, listening to Rocket Girl snore while I sewed pink sequins onto the wings. I am still tempted to go back for some gold sequins and add those.   I added elastic loops as shown in Melissa's pattern - one for each wrist and a big figure of eight loop for the shoulders. Little I loves her wings and wears them round the house or out and about.  I am still thinking about that butterfly dress....


  1. I don't know the Cuckoo Clock, but those are gorgeous wings! I definitely have a huge soft spot for the Laura Ingalls Wilder series and the Anne of Green Gables books! When I was really little I liked the Berenstein Bears. :)

  2. Gorgeous wings and a gorgeous present!I send her happy birthday wishes too...oh to be five!x

  3. The idea of being dressed by butterfly wings is amazing–even to my grown-up imagination. And the wings you made are sure to be exciting for a long time. Once I made a costume hat by pulling the petals off of artificial flowers and then sewing them in an overlapping patterns over a hat form. I wonder if you could do something like that but with a butterfly look.

  4. What a great present for a 5 year old! (for an adult, too) She will love it, I'm sure -- and probably the books too?

  5. I also LOVED The Cuckoo Clock. My grandmother had a copy. I was so delighted when I discovered that there was a digital version available. I've never met anyone else who's ever read it.

  6. Oh, how sweet! I bet Little I loves these! I've never heard of the book, but it sounds really nice.

  7. She's a lucky girl! My head is spinning thinking about the little butterflies and how you could make a dress with them...

  8. Oh, such a gorgeous piece of writing! Thank you for tyoping it in for us....I can see where your creative sewing imagination was kindled!
    And the wings are gorgeous....lovely that they are attached to her wrists so shee can flap as opposed to wire wings you can buy. Yes more sequins needed - can you ever have too many?

  9. So lovely! I loved jill and her pony series and mallory towers. xx

  10. Lovely story and what fabulous wings. your daughter is very lucky. :-)