About Real Clothes

 

I have sewn all my life, and for a number of years made a good part of my "working" wardrobe.  A chronic illness put a stop to my working life, and also to my ability to do the tailoring that was so satisfying to me.  I discovered quilting, and then free-motion work, which I seemed able to manage, and soon found myself teaching "Creative Sewing Techniques" for a sewing-machine-dealer friend.  Using quilting/fabric manipulation/texturing techniques to create the fabric for a garment requires unconventional sewing and construction techniques, and often these methods worked better than more conventional methods for other clothing as well.

 

Then about 3 years ago I got a call from my grand-daughters, aged 4 and 6;  it went something like "Grandma, you like to  make things, don't you?  We've got some Barbie dolls, and they don't have many clothes."  So I bought my first Barbie, and some commercial patterns, and with 3 weeks to Christmas, set to work.  I soon discovered that not only was I unable to find patterns for basic contemporary wardrobe clothing for these dolls, the patterns I did get were fiddly and awkward to put together; one Barbie jacket pattern had 9 pattern pieces, which was more than I'd use for a jacket for myself!  I quickly decided that conventional construction techniques were largely inappropriate for 1:6 scale garments, and set to work to make up my own patterns. 

After some trial and error, I developed some guidelines for construction and some basic patterns, and managed to finish two Barbie wardrobes (clothes for any occasion!) in time for Christmas.  The reaction was wonderful:  "Grandma, they're real clothes!"

 

Sometime later I wanted to make more, and found my original patterns less than complete - so started to develop more reliable versions.  One thing led to another, and I put together a print set of patterns which I offered for sale at a craft show.  The sample clothes I displayed on dolls got a great deal of admiration, which was encouraging.  The next step was to put them on the computer, and learning to draw the patterns with graphics software was a challenge!  Then my programmer son accepted my challenge to find a way to reproduce the patterns for a CD; he wrote the software, and organized the Perestroika website - and we were in business!  

 

My principles are simple:  the clothes should be as much fun to make as to play with;  they have to be easy to sew, and allow scope for modification and personalization.  The latter has been a strong focus;  for Volume 2, I got a digital camera and learned to take step-by-step photo illustrations of construction details and possibilities for creating original designs from the basic patterns.  I experience sewing as a creative art, and hope that others will use my patterns in the same way.

 

And of course, one good thing leads to another:  can't have 2 dolls looking identical, so I started redoing hair, changing eye or lip colour, searching out garage sale and thrift store dolls to renew, swapping heads . . . and discovered the internet communities that collect, sew for, and customize dolls!  I have started to revive an old interest in making jewelry, adapted to the dolls, and most recently, to making furniture and developing dioramas in which to display my dolls in their Real Clothes at local doll shows. 

 

One of the very real and lasting pleasures of this interest (is it a hobby, or an obsession?  My very tolerant spouse thinks the latter, but encourages and helps anyway) is the contact with wonderful new friends who are so generous with sharing tips, ideas, and encouragement.  Their skills and the examples of their work are constant incentives to improve, learn and develop new ideas, and see where we go next! 

 

The Perestroika Studio diorama

 

 

 

The Going to Camp Wizzy Store