Creative Confidence

As a young girl a whole new world was opened up to me. It was bright with so many wonderful colors, and had the potential for endless ideas and creations to pour out of my young silly mind. It was a gift given to me by my sweet mother that would take me another twenty five years to fully appreciate. She taught me to sew.

I remember so clearly going to the fabric store with my mom and getting to stroll up and down the fabric aisles wide eyed with anticipation for what my next project might be. My mom empowered me to create and try and fail and try again. Learning to sew gave me confidence. It was a gift that I knew as a young mother, that I wanted to pass down to my three girls.

Emilie could look at a pile of trash and create an imaginary world filled with princesses, pirates and all sorts of magical things. Creativity defined her. So teaching her to sew was very natural and fitting. She instantly loved to sew. She loved to pick out new fabrics and sit down with paper and pencil making her own patterns up for some crazy idea she just had to make.

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One day Emilie informed me that she wanted to make a doll. She showed me the fabric she wanted to use and described to me how she wanted it to look. But she wanted to do it by herself. She drew the pattern, she cut the fabric out and sewed it together (I pushed the pedals because her legs weren’t long enough though), she got some yarn out for the hair and put it all together. When it was all stuffed and dressed, she got her markers out and drew a little face on her new best friend, Ariel. She took this beautifully shabby doll everywhere with her for weeks, proudly showing everyone she met. It fit her perfectly.

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I haven’t sewn much since Emilie died. At first it literally made me feel like throwing up to even think about it. But, slowly, I have been able to feel that desire grow in me again. Earlier this week, Samantha and I were playing together in my craft room. I looked up at my sewing machine and thought about that little doll Emilie had made and I asked Samantha if she would like to help me design and create a doll with her. I have this amazing book called Wee Wonderfuls by Hillary Lang that is full of cute little doll patterns for kids. Samantha loved the idea and immediately picked out the mermaid pattern. We didn’t have much time, so she helped me pick out the fabric we would use and then we ran off to pick up Madeline from school. That night, I carefully pieced together Samantha’s mermaid. I had to hand sew most of it and it took me a good three hours to finish.


The next morning, I told Samantha and Madeline to go into the craft room to see what I had made. I listened to their cute little voices as they excitedly ran into the craft room. Samantha was so excited to show Madeline her new doll. “MOM!!!” I heard Samantha scream. “This is NOT what I wanted at all MOM!” Totally confused, I ran into the room after them only to see Samantha holding the doll up towards me utterly disappointed with tears running down her cheeks. A little taken back, I asked her what was wrong with it. She informed me that I had gotten it all wrong. This was not what she had asked for at all. Madeline, seizing the opportunity, comforted Samantha with the idea that SHE could take the doll and mommy could simply make her a new one. And with that Madeline excitedly took the mermaid out of her hands and began spinning around the room.

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I sighed and took Samantha over to the whiteboard and asked her to please draw exactly how she wanted her mermaid to look…


“And I want it to have green skin with pink for the mouth and eyes.” said a confident Samantha. I tired to explain to her that some of her drawing might be inappropriate.  I tried to explain to her that this mermaid would look like a monster. I tried to explain that it wouldn’t be like the cute dolls in my book. And the more I explained, the more excited she got for her new doll.

Samantha loves her design. Madeline loves her pretty little mermaid. And I can smile that I have three little girls that are confident, creative and know exactly what they want.