Headline-grabbing fashionistas regularly cite childhoods spent playing with dolls – or rather time spent pulling apart the quotidian outfits issued to their various playthings, mixing, matching, altering and re-styling until their own personal vision was satisfied.
These two new books by Louise Scott-Smith and published by Thames & Hudson are aimed arrow straight at the stylish child, offering them a simple route to becoming a small scale designer. I Can Make: Dolls' Clothes is the simpler of the two, pitched at those children still keen to play with Barbie-esque dolls. Of course, little miss plastic fantastic already has a dizzying array of available fashion options, as do her nearest and deadliest rivals, but I Can Make is intended for the craftier end of the market.
If you live in the kind of household that has drawers-full of interesting off-cuts and a sewing machine to hand, the book’s collection of ultra-simple patterns would easily benefit from some special fabric and a jazzy button or two. Pippa, seven, is currently a big fan of "upcycling" old clothes, with varying degrees of success, and has also made several beautiful teddy bears at her school sewing club.
This small scale pattern book was right up her street, and she was raring to tackle the designs and improve her entourage’s outfit options.
PWT rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Fashion Rebel Outfit Maker is far more involved. More of a kit than a conventional book, it consists of a pack of template cards and a pad of tracing paper, with each page bearing a trace outline of a mannequin.
The idea is you sift through the templates and build up a collection of "looks", each of which is then traced onto the figure on the pad, coloured in and accessorised in any way you like. The end results are pictures, not clothes themselves, but there's perhaps a bit more scope for creativity and it might also spare the destructive upcycling of real garments (an occasional issue in this house).
Pippa seized the challenge with gusto, happily filling the page with colour and fulfilling her current "rock star" dreams. Regardless of the path you take, each book offers a shot at a new creative direction.
PWT rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
I Can Make Dolls' Clothes: Easy-to-follow patterns to make clothes and accessories for your favourite doll and Fashion Rebel Outfit Maker: Mix and Mismatch Styles! both by Louise Scott-Smith are available from Amazon.