{case study} an invitation to play like a child again


An older friend of mine
gave me a doll
and invited me to play again.

This dress and apron is the result.


Some of the first things I ever sewed were doll clothes.

But then I grew up
and left the dollies to my sisters.
Until I met Kathy, that is.

She was a doll collector,
and when she saw what I had designed and sewed for people
she invited me to try making doll clothes again.

She gave me and my sisters
dolls from her collection
and told us to have fun.

The first outfit I designed, I gave to Kathy.


There are many things about sewing doll clothes
that are the same as sewing people clothes,
but there are also things that are different.

For example, some areas get bulky easily.
(Like where seams come together
at the neckline or underarm.)

And since doll clothes are small
and the pieces you’re sewing together are even smaller,
things can get fiddly rather quickly.

My main goal for this project
was to remember what it was like to play
and have fun creating something beautiful.


My initial concept for the apron
didn’t work out quite the way I envisioned,
so I tried again.

Because I was working at a small scale,
starting over didn’t take up much time,
and I didn’t waste much fabric either.

The small scale also gave me freedom
to give the dress a full circle skirt
without needing to use a lot of fabric.

I used narrow bias tape
to finish the dress neckline, sleeves, and hem,
and made a matching sash to pull everything together.

One way that I “played”
as I designed this outfit
was to use a lot of color.

Usually I like to use
straightforward and subtle color combinations,
but I stepped out of that comfort zone for this project.

Not only did I use multiple colors,
I also used multiple patterns
and a variety of buttons!

It took some experimentation to get it right, but it was worth it.
I maintained a tranquil pallet while still infusing color.
Almost like a beautiful watercolor painting.


This outfit is still my favorite
of all the things I’ve made for our dolls.

Kathy’s red-headed doll wore it for a while,
but then Kathy passed away
and the outfit was given back to me.

Now my doll wears it,
and when I see her I think of the whole story
of my friendship with Kathy.

The colorful dress and apron represent
an invitation to play again,
to approach life like a little child.

To explore - stepping out of my comfort zone
in order to create something beautiful.


This outfit
and the story it carries
bring me so much joy.

I wouldn’t change a thing about it,
even the trial-and-error process
and the fact that Kathy was only able
to enjoy it for a little while.

Because she was able to enjoy it,
I was able to enjoy it with her,
and I am still able to enjoy it.