Back to the beginning…

Early sewing efforts. Including pantaloons, T-tunics, leather breastplates and wooden swords.

I’ve mentioned before that, at the age of nine or so, I began my long and illustrious (snerk) sewing career on that most time-honoured of passtimes, making doll clothes.

Barbie clothes, actually.

Ok, clothes for Barbie’s friends, relations, little sisters, etc., mostly. As a non-blonde myself I took great pains to make sure my doll collection represented as much diversity of body shape and colouring as I could, given the medium (I was, however, a Barbie snob; no knock-off dolls allowed). Also finding a Ken doll that didn’t look doofy was a miracle, so when I did, I bought two.

And, when my father came up to visit us for Christmas and incidentally divest his

Soo styling. The bits on the right represented computer components for when I was feeling a bit sci-fi. Like the swirly keyboard?

basement of the horde of boxes I left there when we moved out of Saskatchewan, he brought the boxes containing the remnants of my childhood Barbie collection. So I took the opportunity to document, rather briefly, some relics of my first sewing adventures.

You may notice the lack of actual Barbies in any of these photos. This is because when my kids reached doll-playing age, I very cheerfully gave them the barbies. I’m not a collector. I loved Barbie because she was a blank slate, a vessel devoid of personality that could become any and everyone I desired. It wasn’t about preserving anything about the original doll, ever.

I wove those blue pieces on a home-made loom, too...

Of course, when you give a 15-year-old plastic doll to a three-year-old, well… let’s just say the attrition was fast and brutal. Necks are a particular area of weakness in these dolls (which mostly dated to the late 80s and early 90s)… it took Tyo only a few months to destroy most of them.

Ah, well. I always liked Skipper better, anyway.

The Barbie Library

Of course, clothes were only part of it. There were entire worlds to create. Computer components (see above), food (not pictured… it included beads for “fruit”, bits of shredded foam for bread and cheese, and little snippets of leather for dried meat…), and, of course, books.

Ok, Peter’s Ken dolls may be a bit better dressed…

but this is totally where it all began!

… why yes, I am a total dork. Don’t act surprised. 😉



Filed under Sewing

17 responses to “Back to the beginning…

  1. This is great – and just too funny how fast the Barbies go when given to 3-year-olds. 😉 I gave mine to my daughter, too, but it wasn’t the necks that broke. Oh, no. Mine got her kid scissors and all the hair was gone!

    🙂 What fun!

  2. Your barbies have an enviable library! It’s so fun to see the entire world you made for them.

    My little sister and I would create houses for barbies on the stairs, making furniture from anything we could find. The dolls were an excuse to play, and an excellent blank slate like you pointed out.

  3. Thanks for sharing that. I’m with you on the “blank slate” aspect… When we were old enough to read history, we tended to internalize it with Barbie historical dramas when it wouldn’t work out to act them ourselves. I remember a melting Barbie from our Inquisition period…

    • I find it really neat that you made historical plays with your barbies! I was all about Tolkien and Dragonlance at the time, so you can imagine my typical plotlines… figuring out how to approximate a dragon with pillows and bedsheets was always a bit of a pain, though…

    • Gry

      Haha! “melting Barbie from our Inquisition period” 🙂 My barbies also acted out historical dramas, but they seem kind of dull by comparison. They mostly involved skipper riding in a white dress without a saddle. If she occationally was about to be burned, she got rescued in good time.

  4. Curious to know what is in the Barbie Library…Once upon a time there was a handsome man called Ken who fell in love with….

    • Well, you can read the titles if you click through to the full size photo… just remember, there is no “Barbie” and “Ken”… each is an empty vessel, waiting for the character you provide them. It always annoyed me that all of my brother’s toys came with personalities attached (be it Ninja Turtles or superheroes.)… it seemed like it would be awfully boring. 🙂

      • I seem to remember that all your brother’s action figures came with weapons, and that the swords, axes, knives and that ilk vanished in the clutches of the ‘dolls formerly known as Barbie and Ken’. We still have a vintage suitcase here with a selection of the dolls, clothes and weapons. You will have to photograph them next time you are in town.

  5. Just goes to show you are never too old to play with dolls!

  6. That’s where I started sewing too! My daughter has all my Barbies and several of the clothes I made them. It’s fun to look back and I’m happy to note my sewing skills have improved tremendously…

  7. Is it going to be odd to admit that although I had a bunch of Barbies, I never actually sewed for them? Any clothes that couldnt be created from a single piece and tied together were deemed too hard and didn’t happen. That being said I did come up with some awesomely intricate origami type clothes in an effort to avoid sewing. Oh how I wish my parents had kept them.

  8. Gry

    I also began sewing by making doll clothes. I didn’t have a sewing machine, so everything was hand sewn. I would tell myself long tales while sewing the clothes and had a lot more fun with that than actually playing with the dolls.

  9. I love it! My sister and I used to do the same thing, but with troll dolls if you can imagine that!

  10. Joy

    My girls got my collection, too, and now they’re all headless, and some are missing limbs (the dolls I mean, not my girls). It’s more “Frankenstein” than “Fairy Tale Princess”.

    I remember making wardrobes for Troll dolls for my friends and I. I wonder if I still have those…

  11. Pingback: The Rolled Hem Foot—Devil or Divine? | Tanit-Isis Sews

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