As a kid my mum taught me to sew my own dolls clothes. Inauspicious as that might sound everything was mini – mini coats with fur collars, buttons, lapels – all hand stitched to perfection. No false seams, all seams finished off properly. Dresses and skirts fitted like gloves. Blouses were neatly tucked into skirts.
My Barbie dolls were the best dressed in town…well – on the farm anyway. Ken was my Dad’s name, so I didn’t have to impress Barbie’s mate. My Dad thought my sewing was pretty awesome anyway.
The first pattern I ever made clothes from was given to me by my younger brother. It was for my Barbie doll. Mum soon had me shift from cutting out mini patterns to the ‘real thing’. I learnt to make dresses for my bigger dolls! They were sewn on my first machine – a trusty treadle. Years later, after I left home for the big city of Perth, Mum thought the sewing machine was worth something and sold it. I was not happy! She did say sorry many years later – after I bought myself a similar one. I sidetrack. My sewing sidetracked.
From dresses for Sophia and Pollyanna I graduated to my own skirts. One I remember well. It was patchwork. What a great way to learn to sew! I had to sew all those fabric pieces together, get the seams flat, iron them the right way, finish off neatly, tie threads, and finally line the skirt in a soft blue cotton. I wore it for years. When it became indiscreetly short I turned it into a pillowslip and used it till it fell apart from wash-and-wear. By the way, Pollyanna and Sophia still sit in my dolls pram in clothes that were knitted and sewn for them.
Yes, other skills crept in along the way. I was taught to sew, embroider, knit and crotchet – in that order. More on these skills later.
My childhood dolls needed to be warm and comfortable, and so I made sateen pillowslips, and sheets for their cot and pram. They sleep cosily to this day, never really aging, timeless in their own ways.