Sunday, May 1, 2016


The other day I finished Gigi, one of my oldest unfinished projects. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, though. I have “cutter’s remorse.”

Gigi is a panel doll. I purchased her through an ad from “The Chocolate Soup,” a shop in New York City. The envelope was postmarked August 5, 1971. I had visited France that summer, and I guess this French maid struck my fancy. However, when she came, I looked her over, carefully refolded her, and put her back in the envelope, a practice I would repeat from time to time over the next 45 years.

You see, back in the day, I cherished expectations that one day I would be a good seamstress. With time I would gain experience, I thought, and so I put things away toward that day when I could do a really good job. (Dream on!)

And now, from this perspective, things look different. It occurred to me that it might be better to leave the panel uncut. At the bottom it says, “Made and hand-screened in Ireland,” and “Designed by Alice Wadowski-Bak 1967.” A little gold sticker on the fabric reads, “Warranted Genuine Irish Linen – Made in the Republic of Ireland.” It would be interesting to see if it would sell online, but I don’t do that. I also thought of framing the panel as is.
At any rate, Gigi was mine – and the decision was also mine. I had always intended to make the doll, so I went for it.

And now it’s done. I cut the doll from the fabric and sewed her. Then I stuffed, restuffed, and restuffed again. (A stuffer I am not.) Then I stitched her opening by hand – “et voila!” – here she is.

Here’s the translation of the instructions on the fabric:

Pretty Country Woman (or Farmer’s Wife)
Good day my friends . . . . Cut sweet little
Gigi out by following the dots. Join the
two right sides of the pattern. Sew following
the lines around the dress. Don’t
forget to leave the hem of the skirt open
for stuffing. Turn inside out and press with
a hot iron. Then stuff Gigi from head to
toe with old rags. Fold the hem inside.
Then sew in very small stitches on the
black line. Goodbye.

Si jeunnesse savait; si vieillesse pouvait!
(If youth only knew; and age only could!)


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