4.28.2008

the cottage dress




My husband and I were recently watching the old Emma Thompson version of Sense and Sensibility. Remember how distraught the family felt, being forced to move to a simple cottage in the country after the death of their father? After seeing the amazing estate they left behind, their disappointment was understandable. Though my husband and I laughed and both agreed that their "cottage" was a mansion compared to our simple house. If the size and shape of a house is a determinate for the term "cottage," then I think my house would fit the definition better than theirs.

Yes, sometimes I dream of having a mansion (like their "cottage,") or even just an extra room attached to the back of the house. A spot where I can hide my oversize canvases, stacks of fabric and estate sale sewing machine. But in reality, I'm secretly kind of content with my little house. I can clean the whole thing, top to bottom in three hours. I can usually find things because there aren't a lot of secret caches.

Though living in a small house does present its challenges--e.g. place a stack of books and a few dishes on the kitchen table and the whole house seems cluttery. Or open a closet and a package of bandaids, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and a stack of wash cloths fall out on your head. There never seem to be enough spots to hide all the stuff. But maybe that's the point, less stuff means less clutter and less clutter, less to pick up and less to pick up, more time to sew and make things, and enjoy the simple pleasures of cottage living.

47 comments:

suneye said...

Wow, how adorable!!! What material did you use? I can't get over that button! And how do you do the backgrounds? Melissa, you are so talented!

Eva said...

I've been lurking for awhile now. I must say I love the things you both make for your girls.
I need to get on board with that less stuff=less clutter idea. I'm beginning to get swallowed up over here.

Alison said...

cute dress--love the shoes too!

i agree on the cottage idea. we used to live in a small house--and it felt like we were living on top of each other. so now we're in something almost 3 x's the size, and we have 6 people in the house, but i've noticed that we've grown and expanded our 'stuff' to fit. I would rather have a smaller space, less 'stuff', and be able to clean in 3 hours.

Alison said...

cute dress--love the shoes too!

i agree on the cottage idea. we used to live in a small house--and it felt like we were living on top of each other. so now we're in something almost 3 x's the size, and we have 6 people in the house, but i've noticed that we've grown and expanded our 'stuff' to fit. I would rather have a smaller space, less 'stuff', and be able to clean in 3 hours.

apple cyder said...

We have a smallish house and one of the many things I love about it is that we can do the 3 hour top-to-bottom cleanup as well. I am so glad that neither my husband nor I are big shoppers. We have very little clutter.

Love that dress and pretty much everything you and Lynn sew up. Would love to learn more about how you sew up these little numbers!

Carrie said...

SO adorable! The small details are precious!
We live in a small home,too,and we wouldn't have it any other way ;)

Hello, I'm Sally. said...

What a sweet little dress on a sweet little girl!

I like hearing about your small house. We have a small house and I'm still trying to figure out how to make it work. Must get rid of more stuff!!!

Collins said...

love, love, love this! The button is too cute.

Anonymous said...

we are restoring a "mansion" we bought 4 years ago and trust me, the bigger the house, doesnt always mean more places to hide things. we have no closets at all...which means no place for things like the christmas tree, the winter bedding and clothes, the furntiure and paintings we bought to fill all the rooms we have (16 to be exact). i keep downsizing our things, every week i take a box or two to goodwill. i long for the day we can sell this and buy a "cottage", a bungalow...with maybe only 8 rooms. a house that takes only a few hours to clean. i love smaller homes...how i ended up in this, i will never know.

taylors said...

The minimalist life is very attractive. I have a huge closet under the stairs where the kids hide the massive amount of toys they own...ridiculous. I wish the space was not there, the less space you have the less you purshase.

I have my eye on a small 3 maybe four bedroom craftsman cottage home oosing with caracter, a small house that I can also clean in no time an have the extra hours doing something I love. The dress is my favorite. The color is beautiful!

Renae said...

Darling little dress--aka Little Red Riding Hood. I love the little band on the neck and sleeves. Amazing how something so simple can just make the outfit so much more attractive.

Kristi said...

that dress is precious. less stuff=happier me! well said.

lera said...

a. dor. able.

Barbara said...

The dress and the details and the button are all adorable! And that view!

We have a bigger house now, and our basement is just one big storage area, it's ridiculous. So many knick knacks, it's just more to dust!

lynne said...

melissa, i love this. that red is so pretty on baby j. and the BUTTON!!! incredible, as always!

While I am very grateful for our home and a safe roof overhead, there is a part of me that does long for a cozy little old cottage. I love your house and most of all the gentle and creative atmosphere that flourishes there! xx

miss chris said...

oh, darling. Sweet dress. So simple and pretty. The binding does it for me. xo

lala said...

Love the dress, the button detail is lovely.

I think we must live in identical houses. Only it takes way longer than three hours to clean mine.

Joslyn said...

we moved from and itty, bitty house to a larger house and truthfully...i miss that itty, bitty house. i really, really do.

p.s. LOVE the button.

Julie @ Letter9 said...

Oh, how cute. And those SHOES?! Why don't those shoes come in my size???

megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
megan said...

Ack! That dress and the button and all the details and the trim! DARLING! I wish that I would just sit and sew. I just can't seem to get it when I am tripping over all of our clutter. I am still happy we are here, but our old house was soooo much easier to clean. Guess that's because it was only 900 sq feet.

elliebelle said...

What wonderful sentiments. It is true it seems, that even though we long for more space, all we do with that space is fill it up. I think you are right, less is more. :) Such a cute dress, by the way!

Bethany Hissong said...

You are very wise to realize this now! I think being cozy in a home is much more appealing than being ostentious. You just have to be creative with the space you have! Your red dress is adorable!!! It makes me want to start a list of all the red things I love... this would be at the top!

Rebecca said...

What a stunning picture! Just stunning!

Antoinette said...

Love that deep red, and REALLY love the toadstools.

Lauren said...

LOVE IT!! What a gorgeous shade of red.

I love your house - you are soo organized and make great use of the space!

(in addition to all your other many talents)

Dawn Elizableth said...

The dress is so cute, love the button. Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorite movies. We have a huge house with bare minimum cupboards and closets. So I don't think size matters, it's where you learn to put stuff!

esther said...

sweet fairy tale perfection! the proportions are just right!
you might like 'coco jumbo' shoes for your little sweetie. you should check them out.

Melissa Crowe said...

So funny because I always think the same thing exactly when I see that movie--how several generations of my (Irish Catholic on my father's side) family could live comfortably in their cottage, a place so close and shabby as to make them totally forlorn. That cottage is pretty darn glamorous from my perspective! The magic of the movie, though, is that I do feel sorry for them, despite the fact that I live in four miniscule rooms with husband, daughter, and dog!

Melissa Crowe said...

So funny because I always think the same thing exactly when I see that movie--how several generations of my (Irish Catholic on my father's side) family could live comfortably in their cottage, a place so close and shabby as to make them totally forlorn. That cottage is pretty darn glamorous from my perspective! The magic of the movie, though, is that I do feel sorry for them, despite the fact that I live in four miniscule rooms with husband, daughter, and dog!

kennedy & friends said...

this is all about my life. we live in 1100 sqft in an old 1924 bungalow. we love it, but room becomes a luxury. one new thing comes in...something goes out. this has really challenged my organization skills. and the red dress.....oh so lovely. the button detail is so unique. i had been thinking about making something like this dress in a totally different color...but i still have too much to pick up...and not enough time to sew...LOL! spring cleaning....here i come!

Rach said...

Another wonderful creation from the clever sister-in-laws.

I have to say that I grew up in a big house in the country and I long for my own big house in the country! Don't get me wrong, our current house is not too small but I love our childhood home of 'secret' rooms and cupboards and so many places to hide. But I do not envy my mother having 6 bedrooms to clean and all the mess that 5 children can make ...

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that dress, did you use a pattern or did you make it yourself? Id def buy that pattern. I live in Winchester UK and that means unless you are pretty rich you have to live small. A house/apartment here in a good area with good schools with 3 bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom, living room costs over £300 not as expensive as London obviously but not far off.
I guess thats why me and my friends quickly adopt cottagy clutter style since there really is no alternative!I often watch Desperate housewives and long for properties like that - as I am a bit obsessed with property and value I often wonder how much a property like Bree's would cost (Id fight for a visa to get one with that much space) and a PORCH! the bliss : )
carolinepanico@hotmail.co.uk

Cakies said...

Where do you get your backgrounds?!! If that is your house... i am jealous! Well, I already am of all the talent and beauty you two ladies exude... I think what else is so special about both of you is the love and thought that come out in your creations... and your pictures evoke such warmth. You really inspire me to think outside of the box when it comes to sewing... to give a piece of clothing some sort of story. Thank you!!! I love it as usual!

The Lazy Organizer said...

Less is definitely less and it shows in your designs!

Audrey said...

As always, it is a beautiful and charming creation. I love the photo in front of the red cottage! But you keep putting me over the top with your little extras!! An embroidered covered button that looks like J? Melissa- You are a genius!

eBirdie said...

And, amen.

TeamMcDonough said...

wow beautiful dress, I love the backdrop. Little Red Riding Hood? Maybe Grandma's house in the back?

I have a small house which is really tough as I happen to love collecting. But Simple and Less is More, Off to clean out the closets.

Kari said...

Again with the details! I love the red.

nath said...

I'm discovering your blog and absolutely loving it. The dresses are so creative. Loevly girls too.

robinettehandmade said...

What a sweet button!

I, too, am a small home lover and dweller...I do dream of my very own sewing room, though (I have a little corner in play/family room).

erica e said...

Adorable, adorable dress! I love the polka dots! Is this a pattern you made up or bought? I'd love to make this for my little girlie. And I love what you have to say about small houses and simplicity! Its so true that more room just means more stuff and bigger messes. Thanks for this great post to start my day!

fanja said...

Melissa, this is lovely, the little button is adorable.
Happy blog anniversary! I wish i had a girl..

cookie said...

i agree on the smaller house!
i moved from a very big house in africa with a massive garden, to a "small" house in australia.
the smaller house is so much better! easier to live in, maintain,and i find i use my spaces better.smaller house=smaller mess

uppitygirl said...

Oh my God, that button! It's so cute it hurts. You rock.

uppitygirl said...

Oh my God that button! It's so cute it hurts. You rock.

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