Dressing Barbie dolls is no child's play: Meet the Malaysian behind these miniature gowns
BINTULU, Sarawak: A mother of two from Sarawak has turned her knack for sewing tiny dolls' dresses into big business as orders from collectors pour in for her Barbie doll gowns.
Erpha Ahdayani Othman, 41, secretly used her mother's sewing machine to stitch doll gowns when she was just 10 years old.
“The interest in sewing doll dresses was always within me ... This hobby was long abandoned but in recent years I have been keen on dressing Barbie dolls.
"Not only that, every dress I produce is a record in terms of size and design," she said.
Erpha said she now focuses on producing Silkstone Barbie doll gowns. Silkstone Barbies, also called fashion model Barbies, are collectors' items made of a durable material meant to simulate porcelain.
According to Erpha, since her return to sewing, she has produced hundreds of Silkstone Barbie gowns with most orders received from customers in the United States.
“To sew a small gown you need skills. If one millimetre is missed, the gown will become big. I can stitch one gown in a day, but need to be fully focused during sewing. The stitching pattern should be correct so that the quality is maintained,” she said.
Erpha who hails from Kampung Dagang, Bekenu, said besides the stitching techniques, she has to cut the fabric accurately.
The secret behind producing a dress that can attract customers are the types of fabrics and patterns used, said Erpha.
These features play an important role so that the stitched gown suits the Silkstone Barbie doll.
“Among the designs I usually sew are pencil skirts, and vintage gowns or classic gowns.
"Each garment I sell is between RM150 (US$36) to RM200 and the price depends on the type of fabric used.
“Designers for dolls’ clothes are not many. The design may be the same, but the type of fabrics used and the sewing differentiates the handiwork of each tailor,” she said.