dress you up in …

Wrong doll.  Where did it start and where will it end?

In the beginning there was Maude and Maude was … a dismembered doll’s head. Like a Beautiful Stranger, she caught my attention at one of Sheffield’s many vintage fairs and as soon as I clapped eyes on her, I knew she had to be mine. Even though she wasn’t for sale, the stall holder clearly saw this was a love that no vendor should cast asunder.

The acquisition of Maude coincided with embarking on a Fashion and Dressmaking evening class and a desire to breathe life into a vintage Jones. The sewing machine was a gift from an old and dear friend and has been sitting pretty on my window sill – its form triumphing over function for many years. It was during those initial painful months  – where the fruits of my labours consisted of sample after calico sample and the likelyhood of producing a wearable item was distinctively Borderline – that the tentative seeds of a plan were sewn.








My plan remains embryonic and is no small way dependant on the further development of my sewing skills. Until significant progress has been made, there will be no spoiler alerts within these missives. In brief and in vague – it involves combining my newfound passion for clothes making, with a long-standing affiliation for the off-kilter vintage doll. One day people’s eyes will be on Maude and the question on their lips: Who’s That Girl.

Since wrong doll came into fruition, I have neatly carved my friends into two – those who see the appeal and those who think I am mad. Unsurprisingly, the former is an extremely niche and select group, happening to feature some of my favourite people. Whilst a love of wrong dolls is not a deal breaker when it comes to forging relationships, this mutual appreciation is often reflective of other fundamental qualities –  a deeper understanding of What It Feels Like for a Girl.

In my formative years, I was plagued by a sense of being out out of step with the world; over-sensitivity and introspection; a longing and inability to connect with like-minded souls; a predilection for painful art and an increasing frustration at other people’s seeming preference for not wearing their insides on their outs. True Blue is an understatement and I sought refuge in the arts and the outcasts, revelling in their outpourings: Van Gogh; Egon Schiele; Francis Bacon; Morrissey; Michael Stipe; Pedro Almodovar; Hal Hartley; David Lynch ……. the list goes on.

Fast forward a few decades and the existential angst has all but fallen away. A succession of ‘alternative’ lifestyle choices has softened my edges and the adolescent conviction that I’m the only one who could possibly feel everything so intensely. There are subcultures a plenty out there teaming with freaks like me. You only have to type a few choice words into Google to find that whatever you’re into, you’re not alone. Express Yourself – find your people, Celebrate your difference and your parity. These days I happily steer my own idiosyncratic ship with pride.

So, back to my dismembered doll’s head and her lack of form – an absence which this week I have addressed in no small way. Now school’s out for summer, I’ve realised I’ll need some help to make the pattern adjustments my non-standard body shape necessitates. I’m hoping the Adjustoform Lady Valet is going to take me to the next level – meet Maude in head and finally body.








In preparation for things to come, this Material Girl has been on a fabric and notion trawl of late. In fact, I’m running the risk of option paralysis right now – an inability to make decisions faced with a plethora of choices (Coupland, Douglas, 1991. Generation X. 1st ed. Canada: St Martin’s Press).

Option 1: Apply the finishing touches to my second Hollyburn and seal the deal on the homemade bias binding that has been lingering on my sewing table.

Option 2: Bite the bullet and purchase this Megan Nielson Brumby skirt pattern. However, that would involve reneging on a recent pact with fellow blogger Twinks – her to desist creating shirts without sleeves and I to step away from denim topstitching for the forseeable.

Option 3: Indulge my obsession for patch pockets and utilise these dreamy fat quarters sourced from Heavens to Betsy’s stall at Eroica, as soon as this Dottie Angel pattern is released and inevitably goes viral.

Option 4: Do the spade work and start tracing patterns from Yoshiko Tsukiori’s highly aspirational Stylish Dress Book. I’m Crazy for You when it comes to choosing between the 26 patterns on offer but my choice of fabric was much easier. I happened upon this floral monochrome slashed in the John Lewis haberdashery sale and it beckoned me in with it’s Japanese smock potential.

So what will Maude be donning next? Unlike Madonna, it won’t be love … although it will be fashioned from its loins. I’ll sneak in those Hollyburn embellishments and then I’ll be getting Into The Groove and focusing my attentions – running amok with smocks.

Over to you – what’s in Vogue for your Summer Holiday?

2 thoughts on “dress you up in …

  1. best of luck with choosing a project, funny how starting on one piece turns into planning much more i tend to try and sew the easiest pieces i have planned first so i can finish them before moving onto the next, but having said that I have 3 simple-half-finished pieces by my machine currently …..and those patch pockets fabrics look so cute!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Eimear! I do enjoy reading your comments – your interest is much appreciated. I am usually very organised and systematic but since I’ve started sewing I seem to have ideas overflowing and it’s proving difficult to reign myself in. The fact that my sewing machine is temporarily out of service has slowed me down a little – the belt has broken and I’ve got one on order. Maybe I should use the time to formulate a plan. The patch pocket fabric is delightful isn’t it – I look forward to re purposing them x


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