Fireflies and Summer Nights

1-firefly outfit

Do you all remember catching fireflies on young summer nights?  A glowing mason jar served as a torch in the early darkness at the end of a lazy day of sunshine.

A few summers ago our grandchildren experienced this delight at our cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.  It was especially exciting for them because lightning bugs are rarely seen in Florida, and never before seen by them.


1-back deck to west


Prowling the woods behind the cabin in the dark seemed like such an adventure.  I can’t find the photos of that nighttime hunt but can you imagine the mystery of this with nothing but a little moonlight and fireflies to light the way?  The adults held the glass jars so all the little hands were free for balance and capture.

In a few weeks we will be headed back to the mountains with our two younger grands and their parents.  I’m hopeful that the fireflies will be plentiful.  If so,  both 2 yo Vivian Rose and 6 yo Alastair will make some special memories and capture some twilight magic.


1-front fab

This  outfit will be a reminder of the nighttime hunt. The is a Michael Miller fabric from Sarah Jane’s Wee Wanderer collection.  For fun, I stitched glow-in-the-dark thread over the glimmer of each little bug.  I think that will really tickle our little gal and her big brother as well.  I just love sewing things for my grandchildren that delight them.



The upper row of floss is really a deep coral, nearly a perfect match to the coral/orange in the children’s clothes.


The shirt pattern is my current favorite, Children’s Corner Jane, with the addition of a sleeve ruffle.  That ruffle is edged with Swiss insertion.  The embroidered dots remind me of the firefly glimmer in the fabric. Six strands of embroidery floss were woven through the entredeux for extra color and to make this heirloom trim a little more casual.  Picot edged bias finishes the sleeve ruffle.




The bloomers are made from the Wee Wanderer companion fabric and Children’s Corner Jackson pattern.


Vivi beach

It was a windy day at the beach.

Vivi was so pleased with her Sail Away outfit that I used the same patterns.  We do all we can to keep clothes on this child who has serious nudist preferences.

There are some things I would have done differently. The shoulder ruffle is too wide. I had drafted the little ruffle and used it satisfactorily on another Jane.  For the firefly outfit 1 1/2″ were removed to make up for the addition of the Swiss insertion and the candy pink bias picot.  But it wasn’t enough.

Vivian Rose does not like tight sleeves so I used longer elastic.  But these I think are too loose.  Still,  I won’t adjust them until she tries it on.

Frankly, I think the outfit looks cluttered.  Maybe the print is just too large for such a small size (2).  Maybe I would like it better if I hadn’t added the bias to the bloomers. What I really would prefer is a pair of bloomers in the same soft aqua color at Jane’s hem.  I’m going to include a plain white, eyelet edged pair with this and let Vivi and her mother choose.

It’s always reassuring to remember that children are not nearly so particular about these details as I am.  No matter what, she will love the glow-in-the-dark fireflies.

What summer sewing are you up to?

10 responses to “Fireflies and Summer Nights

  1. How adorable, Janice! Vivian-Rose will love the outfit and will most likely insist on wearing it every evening to catch the “blinkers”. Years ago, when we vacationed in NC my children delighted in capturing (and releasing) those insects, too. I have enjoyed catching up on your blog. I have been sewing more casual clothing lately, too. Your grands are so lucky to have you in their lives!

  2. Thanks, Karen. So many of us have childhood memories of catching fireflies. I’ve never heard them called “blinkers” but love the name. I’ll introduce that moniker to the children when they see those bugs blink. These little ones bring us so much joy–and laughter! We are the lucky ones. So you are sewing more casual garments as well. I’m doing it out of necessity because that’s what they wear the most. But I’m enjoying it more than I ever thought I would. Of course, all the adorable fabrics make it so much fun.

  3. Love the outfit & the fabric! Catching lightning bugs is a great childhood memory! We were fortunate to have one of my dad’s first cousins to live across the street. It was if we had brothers and sisters who just lived across the street. We had so much fun, day or night. From playing hide & seek in the dusk, to catching lightning bugs after dark. As long as we were in one of the two yards, we could play outside well after dark in the summer. The fabric just brings back such great memories.

  4. Beckie, that sounds like a magical childhood. Neither set of our grandchildren have cousins nearby for this kind of daily interaction, but we try to orchestrate special times at our house, the beach and in the mountains. I’m glad you have such happy memories and hope my grands will have lots and lots of them.

  5. from SewForum: Cute. Your little ones will love the fireflies!!

  6. from SewForum: I love that fabric…cute idea with the glow in the dark thread…
    When I was a child fireflies were abundant here…I had a jar by my bed almost every night in the summer….and it didn’t take long to fill up the jar…they are not a pretty bug in the daylight but at night they are beautiful…I would let them go in the morning and catch more that evening.
    They are no more…I wondered why because I always loved them so and now that I’m retired I have time to think about such things 🙂 ….so I went on a search to find out. It seems they lay their eggs in dead wood (like a fallen tree or limb) on the ground in undisturbed areas…So…there’s the
    answer…in Florida there are hardly any “undisturbed” areas anymore 🙁 so may be in the middle of the Ocala National Forest or the Everglades they
    still have fireflies…but I haven’t seen one in years and years and years.

  7. from SewForum: Really nice Janice!

  8. SewForum: Love this little outfit and the idea. How cool!

  9. Such utterly adorable fabric! Loved reading everything! I’m living in England……what exactly is the fabric and does anyone know details of who sells it?

  10. Melanie, the fabric is a Michael Miller print, available from Hawthorne Fabrics, here. I purchased it from but they seem to be out of the border print. Hawthorne has both pieces. It really is a fun print, especially with glow-in-the-dark thread.

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