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.