Barbie Clothes for a Troubled Soul

The past few months have been difficult for our Frugal Fam. After a miscarriage in the fall, I have taken several months to find my voice once again. Yet, the Frugal Fam principles of family first, saving money, being environmentally friendly and living healthier continued to be a bedrock of my life. So after a great deal of thought, I am bringing back the Frugal Fam blog, but on a weekly basis. So look forward each Friday to it.

During these difficult times as I have questioned everything about life, I have also found a great deal of solace in things from my youth, chief among them the arts and crafts with which I grew up. As I have shared in the past, I grew up in an area with few children. My best friends were my great-grandmother’s friends, most of who were in their sixties and seventies. I learned to crochet at the age of six on the evenings when I visited Mama Tattley or the hot summer days spent deep within Mrs McCall’s cool basement.

My Barbie bride

But by far, some of my favorite times were the sunny mornings spent on the floor of Aunt Mildred’s sewing room. She made everything she wore and took in sewing to supplement the family income. What I remember most fondly were the times when Aunt Mildred used the scraps of material left over from her latest project to sew my Barbie’s new clothes. It seemed that in a matter of moments she could transform those remnants into the latest designer clothes for my dolls.  Over the years, I have supplemented my older daughter’s Barbie collection with such special outfits. Now as Emily is reaching an age when she is discovering Barbie’s, I have re-discovered a stress relieving hobby. Over the past week, I have made several outfits for my daughter’s dolls, including a bridal gown that makes me rather proud.

So let’s look at how this stacks up in terms of our Frugal Fam core values:

1) Family first – Like I mentioned, some of my fondest childhood memories are watching Aunt Mildred use her magic to transform scraps into Barbie outfits. My own daughter is similarly entranced with my magical abilities. I usually sew while she is at school, because Emily does not have the patience to sit at my feet as that little girl once did. But still she is fascinated with my sewing machine that has taken up a home on the corner of our dining table. She has even asked if she can learn to sew…when she is a big girl.

The simple stuff

2) Saving money – To understand this one, visit our local toy store. If you can even manage to find Barbie clothes in England, they are very expensive. You can pay as much for her clothes as you do for your child’s. And all for a few scraps of material. Even the impressive bridal gown required less than a quarter of a meter of material and a meter of lace. Total cost of about two pounds and half an hour of my time for something that would have cost ten to twenty pounds. You do the math.

3) Environmentally friendly – From a 3 R’s perspective, you are re-using small pieces of material from other projects.  But perhaps more importantly you are reducing the demand for environmentally destructive imports. Most dolls clothes are made in China in sweat shops. Beyond the moral issues, these large producers often harm the environment. But add to that the miles that those clothes must travel to reach your local store…and the pollution from that journey.

4) Living healthier – As I said, I re-discovered sewing as a hobby to reduce the distress that I have encountered in the past few months. I find the quiet moments spent cutting the material or bent over my sewing machine to be relaxing and enjoyable. Medicine tells us that we all need hobbies. Have you thought about sewing as yours?

So before you spend tonnes of money on expensive clothes for your child’s doll consider an alternative…making your own. All it takes is your sewing machine, a pattern, some scrap and a few moments to create joy in your child’s eyes. And if you don’t sew…consider supporting local cottage industries such as my new ‘business’ making clothes for my daughter and her friends.

2 responses to “Barbie Clothes for a Troubled Soul”

  1. Sorry to hear about the trouble last fall, but it sounds like you have the talents, the values, and the creativity to make things work. Congratulations in anticipation of the brighter future to you and all the Frugal Fam!

  2. Good for you moving forward, after difficult times. The bridal gown looks lovely… are there some markets where you could sell some of your lovely hand crafted garments? You obviously have a gift there.

    Keep having fun with your family.


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