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Talie and I sit on her bedroom floor in a sea of clothes. She's in the midst of modeling last year's shorts and T's — plus her sisters' outgrown twirly skirts — when she lets out a shriek of joy. Peeking out from under a khaki skort is her most beloved shirt, a light blue number with long sleeves that's festooned with nine embroidered hearts.
It's adorable all right (that's why I fell for it in the first place), but it's also a size 2, and hasn't fit her in two years. After she pets and hugs her shirt for a few minutes, I suggest we put it in the bag for cousin Lucy, 2, who would fit into it now. This suggestion is not met with great happiness.
I'm no fashionista, but I can relate to falling in love with a piece of clothing. When I was 5, my mother had a heck of a time convincing me to wear anything but a kid-sized navy blue NASA jumpsuit. And I when I was 8, it just wasn't a good day unless I could wear a certain pair of very loud red, white, and blue striped jeans.
So instead of insisting that Talie part with her beloved shirt, I try to think of ways we could use it in its too-small state.
Put it on her teddy bear? Arms too long. Frame it and hang it on her wall — I'd seen this idea in a magazine recently — but hard to touch it, smell it, cuddle with it when it's behind glass. Make a pillow out of it? Yes!
As soon as these words are out of my mouth, I remember that though I own a vintage yard-sale sewing machine, I'm no crackerjack seamstress. I backpedal and suggest a blanket.
"Yes, yes, yes!" yells Talie, throwing her arms around me.
When we're done with the clothes parade, I get out my giant super-sharp shears. I'm a bit nervous as they bite into her precious shirt, but Talie doesn't wince. So I cut off the entire front panel where the hearts are and we're left with a rough square of fabric.
My sewing skills have not improved since fifth grade when I made a stuffed mouse in 4-H. But I do manage to fold over the edges and stitch a seam along each side to keep things from unraveling. It takes all of 10 minutes, I don't have to deal with an empty bobbin — and I don't run the machine over my finger.
Most important, the blanket is a hit. It has outings now and then, but mostly it's tucked around Talie's favorite baby doll Rose, alongside her bed.
Kind of makes me wish I still had those old red,white, and blue jeans — they'd make perfect knee patches.