A Hundred Dresses with Grandma

May 31, 2011

Here’s an idea I worked with Yahoo! Mail to develop. Remember those pretty dresses my kids were painting for Betty? Well, when my mom visited in March she helped them expand the project. My mom would draw dress outlines and the kids would fill them in with watercolors and crayons. They loved it! So, we thought it would be fun to continue the project after my mom returned home.

Every so often, Mom draws a new batch of dresses, scans them and emails them to Olive and Maude. Just 2 or 3 at a time. The girls print them out and paint them when they are in the mood. They are working on a collection of a hundred dresses — like the book.

It’s such a neat way for my kids and my mom to stay connected, even though they live so far away. This fall, my mom is moving to China to teach English and ideally, the dress project can continue — in fact, I’m hoping my mom will email drawings of traditional Chinese dresses!

Do your kids share any special projects like this with their relatives? I’d love to hear how you encourage those relationships when you don’t live nearby.


This 3-part series is sponsored by Yahoo! Mail.

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brittany May 31, 2011 at 9:23 am

Beautiful! I just got to read The Hundred Dresses for the first time (promise I don’t live under a rock! :D) and it was so amazing. Their paintings are just as beautiful as the ones in the book!


2 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

Such a great book! So glad you read it, Brittany.


3 Amber May 31, 2011 at 9:40 am

Your mother sounds like the most amazing woman. I wish she had a blog!


4 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 9:53 am

Hi Amber. I agree. My mom is amazing. And she actually does have a blog! She doesn’t post too often, but you can find her here: http://donnastanleymcevoy.blogspot.com/


5 Sara May 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

I LOVE this!! This is amazing!

This is inspiring me to think of something similar for my mom to do with my kids…just fantastic!!


6 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 10:02 am

Thanks, Sara! So glad you like the idea.


7 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag May 31, 2011 at 10:12 am

This is so fantasic! I have an artist friend who did something like this for my daughter Julia, she drew outlines of ladies in dresses and Julia would watercolor it in — Julia LOOOOVED it and this has inspired me to do this sort of thing with her a lot more!

What a lovely project for your girls and their grandmother!! ~Melissa


8 Heather May 31, 2011 at 10:15 am

You’ve got quite the creative family! Like Sara, I am inspired to give my mom a ring and suggest something for her to do with my niece. My little ones are too small just yet… Also, I don’t know how you manage 6 kids and working from home. It really is amazing. :)


9 Jen May 31, 2011 at 10:23 am

What an amazing idea! My 6 year old and I loved this book. It would be super awesome if you offered/sold the printables for shared use. My daughter would be all over a project like this (and alas, her mama can’t draw to save her life).


10 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 10:29 am

That’s a great idea, Jen! I’ll see what I can do.


11 Desiree May 31, 2011 at 10:40 am

This is a wonderfully inspiring project! I can not wait to share this with my mom & daughter. You always post such fun creative ideas – thank you!


12 Danielle Diehl May 31, 2011 at 10:40 am

That’s very cool that your mom is going to China. My husband actually grew up as an MK in China and his parents are still working away.


13 Deb May 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

This is great!! Passing this along to my mom to see if we can think of similar things to do to bridge the miles between us. Thanks for sharing!!


14 Natalie May 31, 2011 at 10:47 am

Such a fantastic way for you to keep in touch with your mom/grandma!

Are your parents going with the BYU program by chance? My grandparents did that and had an amazing time. They were in Jinan, China (a “small” city of 8 million) and loved it. We went to visit them and it was so cool.


15 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Yes! They are going through the Kennedy Center at BYU. I don’t know what city they’ll be living in.


16 The Woman Formerly Known as Beautiful May 31, 2011 at 10:49 am

Okay lady — you live in Paris. You named your kids Olive and Maude — which means they’ll travel abroad taking the waters as they write their Bronte-sisters type books which will go down in the literary pantheon as seminal if not ground-breaking. AND on top of all of this they speak to their grandmother through watercolor wardrobes. Meanwhile I’m gonna get my kids some Fluffer Nutter.


17 Ale May 31, 2011 at 10:55 am

Amazing…. tell your mother she should sell them on etsy! I know a lot of little girls who would love to paint such beautiful dresses!


18 Chris May 31, 2011 at 11:47 am

I am just catching up on your blog after being away for weeks in New Zealand with my husband’s family post earthquake. My son is their only grandson and he was like therapy for them following the loss of their home and some major trauma. I don’t know what we would do without skype and my blog. I’ve tried to do a montly photo of him so they can feel sort of connected but it is really hard.

This is such a cool cool project. I kind of want to do it with my mom! I love the way the prints look and I totally loved that book when I was growing up. I hadn’t thought about it for years!



19 Kate Coates May 31, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I so, so, SO love this! My mom and dad live a mile away, and my mom rides her bike every day, usually stopping to visit. She often tucks a bag in her bike basket filled with clippings from the Chicago paper, coupons, and the like. She and my 6 year old are especially bonding right now; they talk about our gardens a lot. She is planning to bring him some divisions to plant tomorrow.


20 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

How fun, Kate! I hope the gardening date tomorrow is sunny and wonderful.


21 Marcia Francois May 31, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Love, love, love this idea.

I just pinned it and was VERY tempted to create a new category “if only I could draw” :)


22 Cheryl Burchett May 31, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Lets spend just a moment complimenting the kids in their watercolor skills! At they using plain old printer paper, our are you running something thicker through the printer? I life that they are controlling the paint, but with some lovely washes. Nice!


23 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm

We are using thicker paper. If you can find a cardstock made with cotton that has a bit of tooth, it should take the watercolor nicely.


24 Bek May 31, 2011 at 12:24 pm

I second the ” please give us some templates” thing. I can’t draw– at all. But my three girls would love to do this.


25 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Talking with my mom about it right now…


26 Corrie Anne May 31, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Nice. great idea.


27 Krystle May 31, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Such a great way to stay connected! Hopefully they can become books for each of them to have and always look back on and remember!


28 Sarah Berry May 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm

As someone who also has a far away family, I’m always looking for creative ways to bridge the distance between grandparents/granddaughter and this is great! SO simple and creative. Thanks!


29 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 12:38 pm

So glad you like the idea, Sarah! It really is an easy one. The only challenge is making sure your mom has access to a scanner. : )


30 Kendra @ My Insanity May 31, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Sweet idea! She is a great artist! And what a neat project for them to do together!

Are they doing the program through BYU? My parents went to China to teach a few years ago with BYU. It seems like a great program (though my mom tired quickly of Chinese food). I hope they have a wonderful experience!


31 Corrie Anne May 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I absolutely adore these dresses! What a fun way to keep up with Grandma! I’ve stayed in touch with my little sisters/nephews through videos, SKYPE, and blogging! My 11 year old sister actually has a tumblr account just to share everyday things with me!


32 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I think of skype as a modern day miracle. : )


33 Lacey May 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm

The Hundred dresses has been one of my favorite books for as long as I can remember. I just recently began reading it with my little girl. This is a really neat idea!!


34 Natalie May 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm

LOVE this sweet idea! thanks!


35 megwrites May 31, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I loved that book as a child–even though it always made me feel kind of sad.


36 Sarah @ Knit York City May 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm

This is a very cute idea! It reminds me of when I was a kid, I would draw pictures and make my mom photocopy them at work. Then I’d give them all to my friends, my own hand-made coloring books!


37 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 1:30 pm

What a cool idea, Sarah! I’m going to share it with my kids.


38 Ann Waterman May 31, 2011 at 1:31 pm

What a beautiful way for your children to stay connected with Grandma!

While none of us excels at the visual arts, we are a family of letters. My son likes to write notes to relatives and enjoys receiving letters even more!


39 Heather May 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm

great idea and that looks like a beautiful book.


40 se7en May 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Oh WoW… what a totally brilliant project!!! We love that book and we have tried to make 100 dresses time and time again…. it is a lot of dresses!!! But my daughter’s best friend moved to Canada a couple of months back and I have a feeling that together they could make a hundred dresses like this!!!


41 Design Mom May 31, 2011 at 3:50 pm

For sure! This would be perfect project for penpals or recently moved friends.


42 sony May 31, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Have you ever seen these sweet books?


Maybe your mother could use them for inspiration if she ever ran out of ideas. These are fabulous gifts and kids of all ages don’t seem to tire of them. BTW: it’s a great bonding activity!


43 Erin May 31, 2011 at 4:06 pm

What a creative way to stay connected! LOVE this!


44 Jennifer May 31, 2011 at 5:59 pm

A little friend of my daughter once asked me to draw a dress for her to color, and when I did it she was BESIDE herself — she demanded that I draw one after the other and colored them in an excited frenzy as fast as I could draw them. She has stacks of coloring books, but I think when someone you know (who might even take some direction!) makes custom drawings, it’s an entirely different experience!


45 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

Oh, I think you are so right, Jennifer! I can just picture your daughter’s friend feeling over the moon delighted.


46 Holly May 31, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Such a gorgeous idea!


47 bdaiss May 31, 2011 at 9:18 pm

What a wonderful idea. I was so lucky that my mom moved to SD from IL almost 2 years ago. Such a blessing to us to have her and my in-laws so close. Love the dresses! (Reminds me of Fashion Plates – remember those?)


48 Design Mom June 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

I LOVED fashion plates.


49 Mandie Peckover May 31, 2011 at 10:32 pm

what a sweet for your girls to stay in touch with their grandma while they are apart.


50 kristi May 31, 2011 at 10:52 pm

love, love, love!


51 Taunya June 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I would love to do this with my daughter. A fantastic idea. Shee has a large empty wall in her room and I can just picture a collection of these framed and covering that wall. I hope your mom agrees to sharing them with us.


52 dunski June 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm

My parents send a notebook forth and back with my daughter. They all write in it. My parents ask a lot of questions or encourage her to invent stories for them. And she tells them all , really all that matters to her. Her feelings, her struggles, her school projects, her friends etc. The notebook is a treasure! I hope they will continue with it, even when they live closer in a few weeks (those 2 yrs went by fast.)


53 kristi June 4, 2011 at 9:36 am

I can’t tell you how much I love EVERYTHING about this project. The art, the progression into a book, and the family bonding. Truly a remarkable idea. Thank you!


54 From Scratch June 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I love this idea. And how cool that your mom’s going to China. I lived there and taught for four years. I LOVED it and hope she will, too.


55 annie June 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

I must say I have done the same with my grand daughter , but i had done with my daughters. I think this is lovely site. And glad to see others do the same thing. Although my girls took it to a level of taking a coloring book of princesses because they thought every girl should be one, and would send it back and forth to each of their cousins in the mail,till college got in the way, they would leave silly messages. it was amazing they changes of growth, over the years. It is a treasure that i have kept on the shelf to look back and laugh at. The girls love to read it! when they come home to visit, keep your memories.


56 meta May 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I love your story!
My 4.75y daughter is very much into drawing and origami at the moment. She would snap a photo of each drawing with my iPhone and send it via WhatsApp to my mother (we live in Switzerland, my mother in Indonesia). And they also do origami “together” via Skype. My desk is now full of origami that my daughter plans to send to her grandma. :)


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