Dec 27, 2019

Also from A Patchwork Memoir:

Last night, as I sat trimming a doll sleeve with delicate lace, using the finest needle I could find—and only half-listening to the succession of TV programs Ella was watching—I told her how peaceful I felt; it occurred to me that I was carrying on a tradition of women down through the centuries who sewed by oil lamp or candlelight in the evening, which gave me a feeling of continuity and even of community, strange as that may sound.

This morning as I contemplated the pile of fabric swatches I had chosen—with geometric patterns, hearts, and flowers—I had a sudden impulse to examine a paper doll book of Scandinavian folkwear I bought for Arielle a few months back. But I couldn’t find it anywhere and was seething with frustration by the time Ella joined in the search. She finally spotted it on a shelf with my drawing books. When I thumbed through it, there they all were: the geometric patterns, as well as the hearts and flowers. And the next thing I knew I got goose bumps, wondering if my predilections were a kind of ethnic memory, my Swedish grandmother Marie’s legacy to me.

Above is the first dress I made for my new doll, perhaps inspired by those women of old.

Below is a sampling of the clothes I went on to make. In the meantime I discovered I could buy Wendy dolls for a lot less at doll shows. So Ella and I started going to the Nancy Jo Doll & Teddybear Shows, held at the Vallejo County Fairgrounds, where I could also find vintage fabrics, ribbon, and lace, as well as accessories—like shoes and hats to match the outfits I was making. One of my most exciting finds was an extensive collection of mini rickrack, which is no longer made and is the perfect size for my creations. I must have bought two dozen different shades.

As for buying dolls themselves, I now have a collection—and blame Ella for egging me on.


I realize the layout above doesn’t show any details, so I’m adding a closeup that does.