skirt as top

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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…

and relaxing with a snack at the zissou compound…

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.

PS – do you ever wish you could breathe underwater?