Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Small-Scale High Fashion

If you're a follower of this blog, you've seen Judy Hansen's two most recent lines, Garden Whimsy and Cook's Helper in quilts, aprons, bags, and more, but we bet you've never seen these fabrics on Barbie dolls!

Until today.

Rita Nussbaumer, a sewer who shops at Judy Hansen's store, Quilt Shop of Deland, shared her story with us. Through a pastor friend, Rita contributes shoeboxes of basic hygiene items and toys that are sent on mission trips for needy children.

The boxes are supposed to include a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, bar of soap and a facecloth (which Rita knits), then she adds a coloring book, crayons, balloons – ''whatever other little treasures I find on clearance,'' she says, as well as pencils and a pencil sharpener.

Last year, Rita began buying used Barbies and making clothes for the dolls to go in the little girls' boxes, many of whom have never had a doll. Enter Judy's fabric. ''I saw Judy's main print [from the Garden Whimsy line)—it's small but it has so much color that you can put anything together with it. It was just perfect!" She uses old patterns from when her daughters were young, and aims for finger-friendly clothing for easy wardrobe changes.

From August through November last year, Rita stitched clothes and hunted down/received used Barbies for 40 boxes. This year, she started right after winter, and has 5 big boxes of clothes already made. A gift certificate she received for Christmas went toward more of Judy's Garden Whimsy fabrics, as well as some from Cook's Helper.

Friends scout yard sales for used Barbies, buying them for $1-$2 each, and Rita cleans them up, combs their hair, dresses them. ''I usually put one robe in the box with a nightie with a long and short bottom, a jumpsuit, a dress, jumper, undies, and a variety of blouses with shorts, slacks, culottes, knickers and skirts - all mix and match to make more outfits,'' Rita says.

''The kids carry those shoeboxes around for years because that's all they have what's in that box. I can sew some scraps together and give them something special," Rita says.

Rita, thanks so much for sharing your story!  


  1. Oh, wow. I may have a stash of Barbies that need a good home! I need to find them, but please pass along my contact info to Ms. Rita?

    1. How nice! We've emailed Rita with your email address. Thank you!

  2. This post really brought some sunshine into my morning! You are very inspirational, Rita!

  3. Very, very, cute -- I have some granddaughters that would love those clothes.

  4. We all have scraps that could be used in this way, and I also often see Barbies at garage sales. What a fantastic way to brighten a child's day, reduce our scraps, and reuse/recycle unwanted Barbies. Great idea.

  5. I have a Barbie that's 52 or 53 yrs old! I'd love to dress her up and donate her to your cause! Do you have or know where I can get patterns! I'd like to make them myself!

  6. I'd also be happy to knit face clothes for you to if you let me know the dimensions you would like if my contact information is sent along.

  7. I'd like to practice my sewing , that's why I'd be happy to make the clothes myself, not that I don't adore yours!