Is this really the fifth time I've made a Sophisticute collection? How did that happen?
It started in 2016 with one dress. I'd recently received my first package of retro style fabric from the Japanese boutique brand, Antique Fabric Pinks and couldn't wait to get sewing. Around that time, I'd also been adapting some 1960s people-size patterns to fit Blythe. The one I loved most had a darted bodice, ruffled sleeve and a uniquely shaped skirt that was perfectly rounded and longer in the front than the back.
With this dress, Sophisticute was born (though it took a couple more months for me to name it that).
Encouraged by the positive response, I set out to make a whole collection using Pinks prints. Anouk, my classic Kenner chunky-bangs brunette, was my muse and as I always do, I found myself constructing an elaborate back-story, in which Anouk was the lead designer of the collection. The story line stuck. In fact, Anouk soon became the muse-designer for almost all of my collections.
By the time summer 2017 rolled around, I had new Pinks prints and was ready for Sophisticute, round two. I made offered a selection of made-to-order pieces and variety of dresses, but there was one look that stood out. It was called the Pleaty dress, but was soon renamed, as so many people pointed out to me that the skirt looked just like a cupcake liner with the tiny grooves I made by experimenting with a custom silicone mold, two expired credit cards, a hot steam iron, a pressing cloth and starch.
The Cupcake dress that debuted that year became a Sophisticute staple and has been included in the collection every year since.
Fast-forward to summer 2018 and I was juggling working on new patterns for Blythecon UK in London that was taking place in October, with another summer Sophisticute collection. The common denominator was a seventies' style sleeveless jumpsuit I simply couldn't get enough of.
The vintage-style piece could be made of all sorts of fabrics, but for Sophisticute I wanted something soft and something bright. I settled on a sheer, white dotted Swiss bodice that featured a white-and-gold ribbon up the front and white frilly lace at the neck. The bottom was made of daisy print Pinks brand cotton. A belt with a big flower buckle completed the look, and the jumpsuit quickly became a signature Endangered Sissy look.
Then there's 2019, the year of the ruffle maxi-dress. Inspired by the Hawaiian caftans of the seventies, this dress took a ton of fabric (relatively speaking — it's doll size, I know) and suited my girls so well, especially my four beloved Kenners.
I had actually made the first draft of the pattern a year before when my Sarah Shades arrived and I wanted to make her a special dress. At that time, it was too late to include the maxi in the 2018 collection, but I vowed to return to it the following year. I did, and it was a smashing success.
A year later, and the Ruffle Stuff dress is back, along with the most popular Sophisticute styles of previous years. But what to do about a 2020 look?
One of the most successful styles I've made so far this year has been the Nina Suit, made of Liberty of London Tana lawn cotton, so I chose to use my custom Blythe, grumpy hacker and vinyl collector, Nina X, as muse. I thought to myself: what would Nina choose if she had to wear a Sophisticute look?
I settled on a pair of cropped trousers with deep, working pockets (Nina loves her a pair of pants!), paired with a short-sleeved blouse with pleated trim and tiny beads. Styled with engineer boots and suddenly it's Nina-style Sophisticute.
As for what 2021's break-out Sophisticute style will be, only time will tell. In the meantime, my plastic muses and I hope you enjoy this anniversary collection.