Monday, 28 November 2011

Matching birthday dresses!

I live in a country with a vibrant throw-away culture. To the Chinese, handmade objects are not valued, and vintage is a foreign concept to all but a few. The old is deemed useless, second-hand is for beggars. If I showed a local something I made yourself, ten times out of eleven he would sneer, tell me it won't last, and ask why I didn't do something more 'productive' with my time.

Here, art is a hobby - never a profession, and never to be taken seriously. People would choose a mass-produced product over a similar handmade one every time, even if the two were the same price.

It's a lifestyle I unthinkingly imbibed until my university days, when Internet usage became prevalent. My online eyes were opened to the beautiful, quirky world of handmade objects - where imperfection was appreciated, variation was a boon, patina was valued. These were hugely foreign concepts to me!

It took me some years to fully embrace the ideals of handmade. But when I understood the kind of control one could have over things they made with their hands, I was inspired to do the same. One jewellery line and one felt doll line later, here I am at the doors of the sewing world.

Since I befriended my machine, I've had a strong compulsion to sew special objects for my special people on their special days. I'm extremely introverted in real life, so it isn't a tall order at all - my immediate family, children, and less than a handful of really special friends. I'm lucky that these few people are able to appreciate the effort that goes into handmade gifts, and how important that is to me!

This is what I made for my little bub's first birthday. I wanted something age appropriate and really special, so I settled on a dress-and-doll set.

I drafted the dress pattern from one of her existing dresses, adding 1cm all around so she could 'grow into it'. Not really the way you grade patterns, right? Though it did work...sorta!

The doll pattern is from the lovely Alison Berry (here).

This was my first children's garment, and I'm so glad I did the bub's dress before the doll's! There were so many tiny turns and corners on her dress that I couldn't handle on my machine. It was much worse with the teeny-tiny doll's! I ended up completing much of that by hand.

She did look nice in the dress, if I say so myself :)

Unfortunately, apart from strong de-frocking and de-shoeing urges, the little bub hasn't taken to the new doll. It's been sitting shoeless at a corner of her cot looking balefully at us since.

Bub's and doll's dress are quilting cotton - Hideaway glade in Berry, by Lauren and Jessi Jung. 1 yard was enough for both :)
Dress trim and shoes were mustard polka-dotted quilting cotton.
Doll's body was made from a silky cotton blend, stuffed with polyester fill.


  1. Adorable! I'm glad the pattern worked well for you, and I love the mary-jane details on the shoes.

    It's interesting that you mention throw-away culture, it seems so different from what I know. Handmade things aren't really a large part of the culture, but I feel that second-hand and vintage items definitely are. Yard sales, estate sales, flea markets, antique shops, thrift stores, they're everywhere here.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  2. Hello Deborah!!! It's me memoryseed on Burdastyle. So awesome that you have a blog now too. Being from Malaysia, your next door neighbour, I totally get what you are saying re the culture. I think it's very Asian.
    By the way, I love the dress you made for your adorable little daughter, happy birthday to her! The doll is very cute as well.

  3. Alison: Thanks so much! I wish it was like that here - I could do with a heap more yard sales, estate sales, thrift shops!

    Far: Thanks for dropping by, and for the kind words. You're the first Burda friend I made, and it was you who inspired me to start this blog!

  4. Omg! The dress is absolutely adorable! My mom was quite disapproving of my thrifting. So yes, I completely know what you mean!

  5. Really cute! I love it. I have the same name as you. The problem with the arm holes, can you prevent by first shoulders sew, second do bias and then as last the sides. When a child 3 years or older I do bias as last.
    Really funny to see how your country think of sewing. In Holland they think you sew because it is cheaper. But that is not true.