‘Pride and Prejudice’ for Babies

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it’s never too soon to introduce the next generation to Jane Austen.

At least that’s the approach I took when I was trying to come up with the perfect gift for a fellow romance author expecting twins. After chatting with other mamas and conducting a number of Google searches, it seemed like an equally universal truth that one can never have too many onesies on hand. After mulling over a few ideas, I decided one can also never go wrong with using a sassy quote or phrase on a T-shirt. I mean, we want people to know that babies (and, okay, their parents) have senses of humor.

With those facts established, and my friend having a boy and a girl, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to two of literature’s best known characters: Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Lizzie quote was easy to choose. When Lady Catherine de Bourgh confronts Lizzie in the gardens at Longbourn, she really lays into her.

“Obstinate, headstrong girl.”

More than 200 years later, I’m sure our girl Lizzie would still consider that slam a badge of honor. She’d own it. And when I thought about funny phrases to see on a baby girl who would surely grow into a strong, independent woman, I knew this was the one.

Settling on a quote to represent Darcy proved a little more challenging.Later, I can admit I overthought this, because the answer was really quite obvious. At the time, though, I struggled in vain, and it would not do. I pulled out my copy of Pride and Prejudice and searched for descriptions of Darcy. Maybe I didn’t look long enough, but I couldn’t find anything more flattering than he was really rich and handsome. Then I looked for quotes about him. Or phrases he had said. It was while I was on that kick it hit me. Why not use one of Darcy’s most famous and oft quoted lines? One that every Austenite out there would see on a baby’s onesie and think, “that baby is so cool and eloquent.”

“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Seriously, what a smooth-talking baby.

With the quotes settled, I put the words into an InDesign document. I’d already decided to go with a 3- to 6-month onesie, and I created the text boxes accordingly. For our Lizzie quote, I quickly selected a fun and pretty quote. I can’t explain why, but that seemed to make it all the funnier to me. For Darcy, I once again tinkered around with options before deciding (again) not to overthink the whole thing. I went with a classic book-ish style once again figuring “if the shoe fits . . .”

I reflected the text so it would appear upright when ironed on. You can download the pattern here.

Because we’re working with babies, both quotes will fit comfortably on the same 8.5 x 11 iron-on paper. When you go to print, be sure to follow the directions on your paper of choice and set it to print in photo quality.

Cut out the text leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of white space around it. I learned this the hard way, but  this will help reduce your chance of peeling off part of the letters later on.

For this project, I used a 100 percent organic cotton blend onesies that I ran through the wash. Turn the iron on as hot as it will go and place a piece of cardboard underneath the front of the onesie. Put the onesie into position and run the iron over the backing in circular motions spending about 30 seconds in each area. This will take about two minutes.

Allow the paper to cool for a minute and a half to two minutes before slowly removing the paper beginning in one corner. If it appears the text hasn’t stuck, pause and run the iron over the paper once more.

And there you go, custom onesies for the next generation of Pride and Prejudice fans.

Be sure to read the directions on the iron-on paper you select for this project as the product manufacturers may have additional suggestions for making sure you have the best possible results.

If you do end up making these, be sure to snap and share a picture of your future Austenite models.

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