Completed: Pete hat

On Saturday November 12 Sinterklaas and his Petes arrived in The Netherlands. They will stay until Sinterklaas’ birthday on December 5th. During this time, children put out their shoe occasionally and it will be filled with a small toy or some candy. On December 5th they’ll receive a couple of larger presents.

A handmade green Pete hat is shown next to a tiny chocolate Sinterklaas and a shoe with a drawing in the back.

A colleague gave me a Pete costume to dress up in that his own children had outgrown and this now sort of fits my oldest daughter. She was so excited when I got it out and put it on immediately. My youngest got a little bit jealous but it is way way way too large for her. I thought she was mostly jealous of the hat, so I decided to see if I could make her one so they can both dress up.

Top view of a green handmade Pete hat (pietenmuts) with a silver ribbon and a pink felt feather.

I googled for a pattern and used the first tutorial that came up. There may be better ones but this one fit the “easy, quick and I (sort of) have all the materials in my stash” bill. I used a remnant of interlock knit, a silver decorative ribbon thing, felt and some elastic. The hat is basically a circle with a tunnel for the elastic with the ribbon stitched on in a circle and a feather sticking out from under the ribbon. I didn’t have a real feather so I cut a feather-like shape from felt.

bottom view of a green handmade Pete hat (Pietenmuts) showing the elastic tunnel.

For over a decade now, there has been controversy around the Petes, Sinterklaas’ helpers. Until several years ago the face of most of the Petes was painted completely black. They enter houses through the chimney to put gifts in children’s shoes and they turn black from crawling through all those chimneys. The black was very stereotypical though and usually accompanied by large golden earrings, curly wigs and big red painted lips. It caused pain to many people in the black community.

A green handmade Pete hat (pietenmuts) with a silver ribbon and a pink felt feather. Sideview on top of a child's head.

When this controversy started, I did not really get what all the fuss was about since Sinterklaas is just a fun children’s holiday. I’ve changed my opinion over the years though. A holiday that causes pain to other people is not ok, especially when there are easy solutions to make it fun for everyone. It is good to see that most of the Netherlands is now free from completely black Petes. They are now simply smeared a bit in the face to create a sooty look and have lost the other stereotypical items as well. Rather ironically, I think this change is for a large part due to the people that are most passionate about keeping the blackface tradition. In their protests in favour of the blackface they have been rather exceptional at proving just exactly why it is very much a racist stereotype that should disappear.

A green handmade Pete hat (pietenmuts) with a silver ribbon and a pink felt feather. Back viewn of a child's head.

I am glad that my children now get to enjoy the magic of Sinterklaas with sooty Petes. It is really fun to see how they get into the story and are excited about putting their shoes out and wondering what kind of gift they’ll get this time. And now they both have their very own Pete hat.

A green handmade Pete hat (pietenmuts) photographed from the top next to a tiny chocolate Sinterklaas and a shoe with a rolled up drawing sticking out.

On a completely unrelated note, this is probably the last blog post that I will publish on this blog. I am setting up a new website and all blog posts that were published here will be moved to I hope I will be able transfer everything so that you still get a notification when a new post appears on the new website. If you want to make sure that you don’t miss anything you can sign up for my newsletter and will be among the first to know that the new website is live!

Another fabric crown

Remember how I made a set of fabric crowns for my niece and oldest daughter? Now my youngest daughter has one too. She requested a blue one.

I made it during a nice afternoon crafting session with my oldest daughter. She made a bracelet from beads while I made the crown. She was very adamant that her sister’s crown should also feature a star like hers. Unfortunately, I am completely out of iron on star patches. I did, however, have this Alison Glass iron on patch that definitely features a star. And a safety pin. Quite a funny detail to put on a crown, but I’ll go with it.

The construction was basically the same as last time. The sequin colours that I used were matched to the colours on the iron on patch. The back of the crown is an Alison Glass print.

My daughter is very happy that she now has her own crown to wear. Not only because she wasn’t allowed to wear her sister’s, but also because this one actually fits her much smaller head.

Pictures come with complimentary peanut butter stains because my daughter already wore it to daycare before I could take pictures. Fortunately, I think it’s probably safe to wash these crowns…

Completed: Dress 18 from Knippie December 2019/January 2020

I made a dress for my daughter using a pattern from Knippie December 2019/2020. If you feel it doesn’t really look like the line drawing you’re absolutely right. The pattern came from a party issue of the magazine and it features a lace ruffle at the shoulders and a detachable overskirt. I am not big on ruffles and detachable skirts aren’t really all that practical for everyday use. I was looking for a basic dress pattern for knit fabrics and couldn’t really find anything else in my stash that fit the bill so decided to give this one a try skipping on the extra frill.

I gave my daughter some options for fabrics from my stash and she picked this lovely stripe. It feels very soft on both front and back and behaved well under my sewing machine. Sewing the dress was quite straightforward. Stripe matching was definitely more successful on one side, however, and when I got to hemming I realized this was probably due to how I cut the back bodice because the stripes at the back hem are definitely not so straight…

I followed the instructions for attaching the neck binding but this is definitely not my preferred method. You start by sewing the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the bodice and then fold it over to the right side, fold the other raw edge under and topstitch. I find this super fiddly and had to use a lot of pins to get it to look somewhat decent. With a solid fabric this is probably easier than when you’re also dealing with a stripe though. The V is created by folding the attached binding at the front and sewing a small diagonal seam. One advantage of this binding method over what I usually do is that the finish on the inside is very neat. I just find it a lot easier and faster to attach the binding already folded.

One of the annoying things of the current pandemic situation is that it’s not possible to buy matching thread. I didn’t have any dark enough blue thread left and in the end decided that topstitching with black thread would be preferable to waiting until I could buy matching thread with the risk that by that time my daughter no longer fit the dress.

My daughter is happy with her new dress so that’s always a win. I do find that the V-neck finishes a bit on the low side though. It’s a too cold right now to not wear anything underneath which now sometimes peeps out. Otherwise it looks comfortable to wear and that’s one of the most important things when you’re an active 4 year old.