You wouldn’t have thought, yesterday, that we were halfway through September. The children were playing barefoot on the lawn, I’d taken my cardigan off by midday, and the windows were open to let the heat of our roasting dinner out. Summer came late this year but it’s making up for it now, hanging around until the very last minute, and nobody’s complaining. In the mornings, though, there’s sparkling dew on the grass. It’s just about dark by Ilse’s bedtime. It’s happening, much as I’d like to ignore it: autumn is on the way.
Most of us have enough to wear this year, should the first frosts suddenly strike. Fliss seems to have stopped growing, or slowed down at any rate, and Ben’s things are new enough to last a little longer. Seb’s trousers are a decent enough length to buy me a little time. But Ilse has shot up this past year and needs new everything. And while I can fill a few gaps with old things of Fliss’, she does need new school dresses and something to wear at the weekends. Not just any old something, mind you. Ilse knows exactly what she would like, please. My plans for some little dropped waist dresses were not well met: how does she know they belong to the 20s? They still look wonderful on little girls: easy and swishy and without an ounce of fuss. Happily, her own plans are equally practical and sweet. What she would like, please, are dresses with high yokes and full skirts to just above the knee, with three quarter length sleeves (so they’re warm, but they don’t get in the way) and possibly a peter pan collar. Three buttons at the back, like the pinafore she loves so much, and definitely some pockets to keep her precious finds in. It took a bit of sketching and and explaining and pointing to parts of other dresses around the house, but we got there in the end, and are both pleased with the design.
Making the pattern turned out to be a breeze, and not at all the afternoon of careful calculations I’d built it up to be. The block I made for her this summer was still in the drawer and, thanks to the fact I made it a size up, still big enough. So it took less than an hour to adapt it, and not much longer to cut out the fabrics she’s chosen. We’re starting with a Saturday dress in blue corduroy, the yoke lined with an old gingham shirt of John’s she’s always liked. It’s a bit of a relief, really, to have got to this stage. What with the cutting done, the rest is easy: I’ve made enough dresses now to sew a quick seam here, seam there in odd pockets of time. Dress number one is on the way.
As is the grey wool I’ve ordered for her school frocks, and my new spinning wheel, and the knitting fair next weekend. Autumn crafting is upon us. As is the season itself, though you wouldn’t know it by looking out the window. Stick with us, summer, for as long as you like. But when autumn comes my little girl will be ready with something warm to wear, just like the rest of us. And just as importantly, I’ll have a basket of wool to knit up, as well as two fleeces to learn to spin with. I have to admit, autumn does have its compensations.— September 20, 1931