How much fun is Four?

My gorgeous grand-daughter, Harriet – whom regular readers will know already as ‘Harrie’ – has just had her fourth birthday. For once, I’d managed to get her present in the post so that it arrived in good time and she could open it on her actual birthday morning. I won’t crow too much about how great an achievement this is for me, but it’s not happened many times before and I’ve been a grandmother now for over eleven years; there are four grandchildren with a total of  twenty-six birthdays so far and I’ve probably managed this basic requirement about four times in all. I know. I’ll stop beating myself up now.

So, Harrie has reached this grand age of four and I was immediately swept back nearly thirty years when her mother was hopping from foot to foot almost every day after her third birthday, begging to know ‘Is it my birthday tomorrow?’. Every. Single. Day. For a YEAR. The final six weeks after Christmas in the run up to her birthday was relentless – ‘When it’s my birthday, I want to be a banana’ she declared emphatically. For some reason that I could not fathom for the life of me, Natalie wanted to BE a banana. She loved them. She loved the colour yellow more than almost everything else she knew of. I’ve spent the afternoon looking for a picture of Natalie when she finally reached the longed-for day, wearing her brand new bright yellow trousers, sweater and matching gilet (it WAS the ’80’ folks!) and the most magnificent, enormous smile on her face. It looked remarkably like this one of Harrie.

Harrie's Birthday ensemble, with a beautiful smile
Harrie’s Birthday ensemble, with a beautiful smile

Harriet is modelling her new birthday treasures – upon her head you will notice a rather exciting cycle helmet, of an ‘Alien’ design. Note the three googly eyes, green and purple pokey horns and wicked sharp teeth that complete the additional protection should Harrie fall from her bicycle or scooter. This was a present from another family member and I think goes particularly smartly with her new quilted jacket, made with great love by her doting Nana (that’s me, in case you were wondering!).

I came across the two ‘crocodile teeth’ (as Harrie describes them) pink toggle buttons in my spare button jar a few weeks ago. I’d forgotten they were there but recognised them instantly as the spare ones that Marks & Spencers’ always provide with their garments. They had come from two pink duffle coats that Natalie and her sister, Donna had worn when they were about six and eight years old (respectively).

Natalie's original pink duffle coat, circa 1988
Natalie’s original pink duffle coat, circa 1988

This old photo shows the original coat. (It’s a good job I’ve learned to focus the lens better these days!).

I dug around in my stash to find other scraps that would make a good match and then stitched together strips to make these brightly coloured squares, creating a cheerful top-side for the jacket. I decided on lining it with some of the pretty butterfly fabric that I used to make a dress for Scarlett last summer and as a couple of my other fabrics had butterflies on them, decided to use a butterfly embroidery stitch to decorate the quilting.

Detail of the 'butterfly' embroidery quilting stitches
Detail of the ‘butterfly’ embroidery quilting stitches
The original pink toggle buttons
The original pink toggle buttons
The butterfly lining for the jacket
The butterfly lining for the jacket

I’m pleased with how the garment looks. I’m thrilled to bits that when Harrie opened it, she squealed with delight and donned it immediately, over her pyjamas and then wore it for the rest of the day. It doesn’t take much to make us both happy!

Front and back of the quilted jacket
Front and back of the quilted jacket

I’m thinking of maybe doing another one of these jackets and posting step-by-step instructions to make it, which I’ll maybe do when I’ve finally finished the cushions I was making for Donna’s Christmas present!

Thanks for reading again!


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