Monday, March 3, 2014

DIY: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Dress

After reading the title of the book to a class of kindergarten friends, I asked, "Why shouldn't we let the pigeon drive the bus?" 

Kindergartener #1: Because he doesn't have arms, he just has feather-thingies!

Me: What are those "feather-thingies" called? 

Kindergartener #1: Bird arms!


 Kindergartener #2: He can't drive because he doesn't have a driver's license!

Me: Do you have a driver's license?

Kindergartener #2: {look of shock} What?! No!

Kindergartener #3: His bird legs are too short to reach the pedals!

Hmmm. All legit answers I suppose. But, kids, this pigeon has dreams! Can't we just let him drive the bus once?!

All of kindergarten{with a look of is-this-lady-actually-crazier-than-we-thought?}: NoooooOOOOOooooo!
Last week was Read-Across-America Week which ended on Friday with a Dress Like Your Fave Book Character Day. Last year, I was Mary Poppins and another time I dressed as Madeline (which was actually for Halloween but whateves, I was still bookish). This year I had no idea who I would be until I came across this fabric at a local fabric joint during their biannual sale. I walked into the place, saw it right away and started seriously flipping out. The cutting counter lady was all, "ohhh, people have been buying this to make curtains for their children's bedrooms" and I was all, "ohhh, Ima gonna make a dress!"

She looked up from cutting with a frozen smile on her face and a twitch-tilt of the head. "Huh," said she.

End. Of. Conversation.
 Eh, whatever. I'm used to cutting counter snobbery.

I decided to try the vintage pattern on the left for this dress. If you notice, it's a pattern by my long-time pattern nemesis Butterick (go here for my tales of Butterick woe). Turns out vintage Butterick #7201 is a pinch easier to follow, praise little baby Jesus. The bodice came together easily and I especially loved that the sleeves were raglan (because I also have a hatred for sleeves. Funny thing about that link, it also contains a cutting-counter-lady tale!). However, I didn't buy enough of the skirt fabric to create the circle skirt shown in the Butterick pattern. That woulda required some serious yardage. So I went with the gathered skirt pattern from Vogue #8571, aka The Crayon Dress.
I gotta admit, I think this is probably the cutest fabric ever. I love the color and Mo Willems' retro-inspired illustrations. The fabric is an organic cotton created by Cloud9 Fabrics. After doing a little homework, I found that Cloud9 is pretty rad and committed to some warm -n- fuzzy, feel-good kind of stuff. Here's a blurb from their website:

Cloud9 Fabrics uses only 100% certified organic cotton in the manufacturing of our base cloths and eco-responsible low impact dyes for printing and dying. We work closely with mills that are committed to ethical and responsible conduct.  This includes respecting the rights of all individuals, a devotion to sustained social compliance, and an accountability to the environment.

And to think some people just use this amazing fabric for curtains. Geesh.
Oh! But back to kindergartenland!

After reading the book to the children for the second time (I had read it that morning during our televised "morning announcements". When I went to read the book again to the class, one girl shouted out, "Hey! That lady on the T.V. already read that book to us!" Yeah, I said. That lady was me. Moving on...). Then we did a little (choice-based teachers, brace yourselves) guided drawing (did I just hear a collective choice-based, "Eeeeewww!"? That's what I thought.)

 I actually got the idea for this drawing/watercolor project from the super fab blog Mrs. Knight's Smartest Artists. It was such a fun lesson that the kids loved!
(Again with the paint-splattery tables! I actually took all ya'll's suggestions of cleaning the tables and put 'em to the test. Whoever said Greased Lightening and Magic Erasers, I thank you! They work {despite what this photo shows} and makes my room smell so pretty.)
My wee artists were told they could paint their pigeon in any ole situation but most didn't have the chance to finish before class was over. I loved their colorful beginnings. My kindergarteners have painted with watercolor quiet a bit this year and I daresay they have a better understanding of cleaning their brush between changing colors than my older students. Way to go, wee ones!
So many of the children dressed up for book character day that it inspired me to possibly do a themed-dress day with the kids leading up to our school-wide art show. Dress Like Your Favorite Artist Day? What do you all think? Have ya'll done a daily-dress day for an art occasion at your school?
One of my sweet and quiet 4th grade students really surprised me with her colorful and outrageous outfit for Dress Like a Book Character day. When I saw her, I said:

"Wow!! Look at you, girl! You look fantastic! What book character are you?!"

"I'm Fancy Nancy...or Mrs. Stephens."


Oh, and before I forget, I'd like to thank the ever-awesome Mo Willems for his fantastic books, particularly one called...DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!


  1. So, I have an answer to your paint-stained-table problems-
    I worked for many years in the after school/ summer arts program at a private school, and they bulk ordered this amazing industrial strength, hospital grade cleaner. I cleaned anything, including layers of old paint on art tables. I just spent some time tracking down the magic cleaner on the internet, and here it is. They've rebranded it since I used it- its called " One Moment" now, but it used to be called " The Answer." The can claims that on nonporous surfaces, it will kill the HIV virus. Its intense.
    Here is a link to the stuff on amazon; I assume there are other places on the 'net where you can buy fewer than 18 cans.

    1. Wow, that stuff sounds serious!! Thank you for the suggestion!

  2. Great paintings. Your younger children would love the picutre books by Chris Judge. The Great Explorer and the Lonely Beast are among the favs in my class.

    1. Oh, I'll ask my librarian if she's got them, thank you!!

  3. Anonymous3/04/2014

    I use blue colored Pine-Sol on my tables and it cuts the glue and leaves a great smell. -R. Crawley

  4. Anonymous3/04/2014

    We LOVE Mo Willems and have all the Pigeon books! I love, love, love this dress! (I made my own Pigeon dress recently!)

    1. I wanna see it!! I know, his books are the greatest!

  5. Guided drawings are pretty much the foundation of my kindergarten program. We just drew pigeons 2 weeks and added our own sentence to make our picture. Very cute!

  6. Paintings of children are beautiful, but the most beautiful is your dress! You look at her prettily!!!!!!!!!!
    (Forgive my English-helps me to google translator) :)

  7. Camille4/24/2014

    Oh, I love Mo Willems! He is absolutely fantastic! And I want to make your dress so badly, but I live overseas, so finding any kind of material like that would be nothing short of impossible. You should check out Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie series, it's amazing, and the Knuffle Bunny series... Basically all of his books. My kids beg to hear his stories again and again. You do an amazing job- I shamelessly steal your art project ideas for my kiddos all the time, so thank you!!

  8. I love everything about this post! I am a huge fan of Mo Willems (so are my 4 and 6 year olds). I also love the directed drawings. I am planning a Mo Willems author study for my first graders this coming year and I definitely want to include the watercolor activity. I really try to add art into my classroom as much as possible and I think this project could pair with a writing activity. Thanks for the great idea!

  9. Oh mylanta! I am late to this party! I found your blog while searching for teacher costume ideas and I'm glad I did! Willems is my favorite author and I am over the moon about your dress! I teach pre-k and would love to commission you for a replica... Do you accept commissions?

  10. Hey! How many yards did you use for your skirt?

  11. i was just browsing along and came upon your blog. just wanted to say good blog and this article really helped me.

  12. I know this is an older post but found it through your recent Mo Willems one and YOUR DRESS IS JUST THE CUTEST. I'm so inspired to make one to just wear for no reason at all. Thanks for the pattern tips too. Seriously so creative.


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