film petit: introduction & the life aquatic with steve zissou

my favorite thing about blogging is getting to be as geeky as i want and having friends online that are right there with me. this was not the case growing up – in grade school and high school, it was never a good idea (socially) to overtly try hard at anything. you were supposed to hang back and blend in, not talk about how you were really into some nerdy niche thing.

i’m 30 now, and i’m finally over that. the sewing blog world obsesses over fabric lines and patterns and new creative ideas. i don’t blog to put out the thing that will get 100,000 hits. i blog because i’m a bit different, you’re a bit different, and we all support and inspire each other.

all of that is to say that today i’m super excited to announce a new ongoing, geeky sewing series i’m co-hosting with my buddy jessica from a little gray. she lives in ohio, i live in oregon, we’ve never met in person…but i consider her a good friend. you may recall i competed in project run & play season 3 last winter. well, jessica won season 4! we had been casual blog pals for a while before PR&P happened to either of us, but became pretty tight during her season. i had a really fun time cheering her on, sharing my mistakes to avoid, hearing about her designs as they evolved, getting photo previews, texting at 1am…

season 4 got a movie challenge, which made me insanely jealous because i LOVE movies. jessica made this drive outfit that totally blew me away. i mean, who has the cajones to sew from a new, violent, not-so-well-known movie like that, the skill to pull off a quilted, piped, satin driving jacket and oh by the way, she also whipped up some jeans?! jessica, that’s who. because she’s awesome.

once her season was over, we started chatting (texting constantly) about how it’d be fun to do something together where every so often, for our own amusement, we make outfits for our kids inspired by movies. we’re not talking about your classic “nice” movies here. we’re talking about kinda weird, indie, random movies inspiring outfits that are hilarious on little kids…and lo, a new series was born.

we’re calling it film petit and we’re just gonna launch right into it!

film petit: the life aquatic with steve zissou

as soon as i saw the season 4 movie week challenge, i knew i wanted to sew ned plimpton/kingsley zissou from the life aquatic with steve zissou, directed by wes anderson. ned plimpton is a pilot, and steve zissou’s adult son (allegedly). steve tells him “i would have named you kingsley, if i’d had a say in it,” so kingsley it is. a good part of the movie is ned/kingsley and steve developing an awkward father-son relationship with each other (as they hunt down the fabled jaguar shark). i didn’t have time to sew this during the sewalong, but luckily it’s jessica’s favorite too and she was happy to indulge me now!

kingsley header-5

my husband and i also share a love of movies, including this one. when i was pregnant with Em, i bought a light blue sleeper and red infant hat for him to open at christmas. that was 2007!

zissou view

now that we have a 19 month old son, i figured it would be most fitting to make him the full zissou uniform. here he is next to the real kingsley zissou, played by owen wilson.

kingsley header-3

wes anderson is famous for his careful attention to detail. i tried to get my little outfit as close as i could while making a few intentional changes (shorts instead of pants, kona cotton instead of polyester, no gun strapped to his thigh), but i did miss one major detail that’s driving me a bit crazy. i’m sure you spotted right away that their stoplights don’t match. AAAARGH!


i used the oliver + s sketchbook shirt and shorts pattern in the 12-18 month size as the base, appliqueing double stripes to the placket, sleeves, and sides of the shorts using steam-a-seam lite and topstitching them in place.  i chopped a few inches off both the sleeves and the shorts to give them a more retro look, and bound the sleeves (and used binding on the shorts hem too) for accuracy and to reduce bulk.  i added epaulets at the shoulders and a team zissou patch to the pocket.

kingsley header

kingsley header-1

his cap is the family sweater hat pattern from handmade home by soulemama, which i cut several inches longer than the pattern and folded it up to create a cuff. i hand-tacked it in a few places, then appliqued the felt stoplight on top. the hat is made out of an old tank top of mine (same one as strong boy).


here’s mini kingsley on a ping island rescue mission…


getting towed into port-au-patois harbor…

peeking over the rail

and relaxing with a snack at the zissou compound…

zissou shorts and snack

i finished hand sewing the collar the night before we left for hawaii…so worth it for the perfect setting, right?


head on over to a little gray to check out jessica’s version of how this series came to be, giggle-out-loud at her steveZ swimsuit, and admire her adorable little crayon ponyfish dress! so, so great. of course she sewed for both kids…that’s the mark of a champion right there.


here’s how film petit will work.

  • every month or so, jessica and i will sew an outfit (or outfits) for our kid (or kids) inspired by a movie we love.
  • starting next month, we’re going to invite a rotating third blogger to join us! we’ll decide on the movie together, link to each other, and it’ll be fun to have a fresh face sewing with us every time. our friend gail from probably actually will be joining us in august!
  • we started a film petit flickr group to celebrate the love of sewing inspired by movies, and have added a few of our past projects in there (i know, i sewed a dorothy outfit – i’d only been sewing a few months, gimme a break!).
  • feel free to add any movie-inspired sewing you’ve done in the past, and if you decide to sew along with our film petit movies, we’d love to see that too! once we get a good number of projects in there, we’ll start doing roundups (or maybe ask you to join us for a future film!).
  • this is a pretty relaxed series, really the only rule is to make handmade outfits for kids based on films you love. if you have any questions, please let either of us know!

PS – do you ever wish you could breathe underwater?


84 thoughts on “film petit: introduction & the life aquatic with steve zissou

  1. Sarvi says:

    Eep! Finally, an excuse to make ALL those fabulous dresses Maggie Cheung wears in In the Mood For Love. I have to question what rock people are living under who have never heard of Drive, though? Ryan Gosling is obscure? Anyway, who has a pattern for a tiny cheongsam.

    • kristin says:

      Yeah, you should do it! Awesome. I think people have heard of Drive, but it became clear during PR&P voting that week that many people hadn’t seen it (or didn’t like it). You’d think Gosling and her amazing sewing would make up for all that, but I guess not. I seriously thought that outfit was gonna go viral. 😉

    • Cherie says:

      Hahaha! LOVE that movie and my kid would probably look adorable in one of those dresses, though it has to be on the “hardest pattern to find” and “least practical for a toddler” lists. 😉

  2. gail says:

    oh yes, you guys are good. that little zissou outfit is killing me, despite the fact that life aquatic is the one wes anderson movie i haven’t seen! very much looking forward to this series!!

  3. Jill says:

    I LOVE it! Wes Anderson movies are awesome. My favorite is The Royal Tannenbaums by far though. Great Life Aquatic outfit! Very impressive. I’ll have to upload my movie sewings once I get on my laptop later. Great blogger idea!

  4. Carla says:

    I can not begin to tell you how much I adore this idea. You gals are helping change the image of women who sew for their children. We’re not all sickly sweet. Many of us are a little geeky and funny and in your case very very cool! I adore Wes Anderson films, and that little outfit really just made my day. I am so excited to see what’s next!

  5. Heather says:

    Oh, Kristin—this is so brilliant and hilarious! Now you’ve really got me thinking about my favorite movies and the looks I could imitate for Lauren. So fun!

  6. Laura says:

    Such a brilliant outfit, the detail is perfect and your son looks so cute in it. Friends of ours called their son Kingsley. I absolutely love the series idea and look forward to seeing what you come up with next. The two of you are amazing.

  7. Tara says:

    Yay! So excited for this series to start! This outfit is perfect, I love it! I just saw Moonrise Kingdom this past weekend and the entire time I kept nudging my husband and whispering how great the clothes would be to sew! I can’t wait to see what you two come up with!

  8. Chelise Patterson says:

    Your skills are amazing… I’m so impressed! My favorite about this series is that both you and Jessica mentioned you are not doing this to get hits or to get super popular, but because it is fun for you. I think that is why I have never been a great blogger. There is a lot I love about blogging, but I don’t want to live my life as a blog post, ya know? I just want to do what I like to do! You guys are great.

    Also, I am realizing I am not so hip in the movie realm. I’m looking forward to the recommendations 🙂

    • kristin says:

      Aw thanks, Chelise! Yes we’re definitely doing it for fun and for the creative challenge. Agree that I just want to do what makes me happy, which was a bit of my downfall during PR&P! 😉

  9. girllikethesea says:

    Gah!!! This is such an awesome idea! I love indie quirky movies. And your little outfit is totally adorable! I think I’m going to be brainstorming outfits from some of my favorite movies for the rest of the day now.

  10. Lucinda says:

    I haven’t seen this movie, but you sewed up a fabulous recreation of that outfit! Great attention to detail and adaptation of patterns you already owned. What a great idea for a sewing series!!

  11. Danielle says:

    You are my freaking hero!!! seriously I could not love this outfit or idea more. I think this might be the series that gets me to actually “sew along”. Something I’ve never done before. Love!

  12. Devon says:

    Oh my gosh, I love this so hard, I can’t even begin to explain it. I think this is the best idea I have seen in the longest time, I am finally coming to terms with my inner nerd and not giving a $@#! what other people think about the fact that I love things dearly that not everyone “gets.” Can’t wait to see the next movies and projects you guys come up with!

  13. Mrs. Martin says:

    I love *every*single*thing* about this post, which is probably why yours and A Little Gray are two of my favorite blogs!
    … and yes, I wish I could breath under water every single time I go to the beach 🙂

  14. darci says:

    hey i work in fashion- and the company i work for often uses a movie as the jumping off point for each seasons inspiration. perfect idea!
    i did make a cinderella dress from a purchased pattern for halloween last year, but that doesnt really count does it ? 🙂

    • kristin says:

      Oh man, that’s so cool Darci. There’s so much in movies to be inspired by – we won’t always be so literal and costumey, but with this one we just had to because the costumes are so fun! 😉

      Your Cinderella totally counts…if you want to add it. We accept all movies in the flickr group!

      • darci says:

        Ooh, i forgot to mention, few yrs ago we saw owen Wilson riding his bike in central park. we stalked him for a bit before My husband approached him and asked if he could take his pic!

  15. Erin says:

    How fun! Your rendition is spot-on! Wes Andersen never fails to produce quirky characters worthy of cult status, with a full complement of remarkable sets and costumes. Like one of the other commenters, I watched Moonrise Kingdom and strategized the entire movie how best to recreate Suzy’s cute dresses–maybe for myself as much as my daughter 😉

    • kristin says:

      Thanks, Erin! I know, Suzy’s dresses are so great – as is her coat, and the the Khaki Scout uniforms, and the narrator’s outfit, and the Island Police outfits, and Bill Murray’s pants, and the general woodsy tone, and the music, and the everything! Love that movie.

  16. nestedinstitches says:

    Yay, what a fun series this is going to be! Your outfit is, as I expected, seriously awesome. I love the hat, upside down traffic light or not. And you quite obviously put so much work into the whole look! Now the question is… Will you dress O in this and take him out in P-town? I wonder how many people will recognize the outfit. 🙂 just saw MK last night… 😉 it was sooo good. Wes Anderson is genius.

    • kristin says:

      I totally would. He didn’t get recognized at the condo in Hawaii, but I bet he’d turn a couple heads here. Maybe Saturday Market? Powell’s? Bolt? Haha. It’s even funnier in real life since he’s so tiny – hard to get a sense of scale here.

  17. kat says:

    Yeay! Kristen! This is such a great idea! I thought about doing something like this, but never wanted to dedicate a whole month of detailed movie outfits, but once a month is totally doable! I eluded on Jessica’s blog that I wanted to do a whole closet full of Miyazaki outfits, so if you ever decide to do one of those movies, count me in!!! But I’ll probably want to sew along to whatever you all are up too!!!

  18. Jess says:

    How fun! That sounds totally awesome! Love his little outfit…soo adorable! Much cuter on him than Owen Wilson I’ve gotta say. 😉

  19. Inder says:

    OMG this is the coolest thing I have ever seen! I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan, and I agree – the details are key! As my friend Elizabeth says about his movies: “Style IS emotion.” Love it!

  20. Stef says:

    I totally missed this post! But I LOVE it! So much fun – it really gets the juices flowing!! And that outfit is just SO cool – makes me wish I had a boy to sew for. Can’t wait to see what’s next!!

  21. Cherie says:

    Oh my gosh, I had to scroll FOREVER to get to the bottom of all these comments!!! I obviously don’t need to tell you that this is FANFREAKINTASTIC. I love it. It really is a perfect example of your incredible attention to detail and your awesome, indie-geeky, ridiculously cool taste and style. CANNOT WAIT to see every month’s creation for this series!!!!

  22. Laura says:

    Oh my gosh I LOVE this!!!! Can we please be best friends? This is seriously the best thing I’ve seen on a blog in a very long time. I love Wes Anderson. xoxo

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