Fashion is a fickle friend.
Just ask Theresa “Terry” Dixon, a Waverly clothing designer who spends her days measuring and cutting patterns in cotton, lace and satin to fit her models.
Don’t expect to see Terry’s name on a fashion show in Milan or New York, but count on her if you’re an American Girl doll collector.
Terry discovered her passion for creating mini dresses, gowns, shorts, capris and leggings, not to mention mini accessories, as she neared retirement as an agency employee. local insurance.
As unexpected as it may seem, when retirement knocked on her door, she took the opportunity to delve full-time into making doll dresses.
“It’s me now,” she smiled.
It’s more than her, though. She now owns La Petite Boutique, a home-based business she runs from her home on Third Avenue Southwest in Waverly, and mostly online.
Its success over the past seven years has earned it the attention of a DIY magazine called Make:. Now she’s up for a DIY Hero, an annual contest held by the magazine. Voting began on Tuesday and the first round will close on March 22.
Terry hopes his friends and customers, including at home and around the world, will vote to help him win the title.
If she were to win, doll fashion enthusiasts would see a rare exhibit – an American Girl doll wearing a unique wedding dress created by Terry four years ago. She bought it at Trinkets and Togs, the store in Waverly run by the Larrabee Center where hidden gems find new owners.
Terry had been looking for a wedding dress for some time to recycle for her projects, so when she found a satin dress with appliques on the bodice and on the train, she happily paid $25 for it.
“I knew straight away this was the one I wanted,” she said.
It wasn’t the first time that Terry had taken apart a wedding dress to create a new one. She turned her daughter’s wedding dress into a christening dress for her granddaughter.
“It was bittersweet to cut my daughter’s wedding dress, but making it a keepsake for her daughter was awesome,” she said.
So when Terry spotted the wedding dress at the thrift store in town, she knew what to do. This time, however, her creation was to be repurposed not for her granddaughter, but for the doll she had designated to be her wedding model.
It took her five hours to make the basic dress, but the back appliqués were a lot of work. It turns out that Terry had some spare time, sewing the fabric next to his mother’s hospital.
It occupied his mind while his mother, Geraldine, was hospitalized. It also helped elevate Geraldine, who had been Terry’s most devoted fan and critic, a presence she deeply misses after Geraldine passed away in December at the age of 88.
That role is played today by Terry’s husband, Raymond, an education coordinator at North Star. He loves all of Terry’s outfits, but his favorite doll is the wedding dress she made for Caroline, named by American Girl doll maker Mattel.
Occasionally, at La Petite Boutique, Terry displays Caroline in her wedding dress, but for the most part Terry keeps the dress sealed in a plastic bag for safekeeping.
In all her glory, the doll has a veil over her curly blonde hair and matching beaded slippers made by Terry.
Regardless of the outcome of the DIY Hero contest, Terry will continue to craft doll outfits, as it is her creative outlet for self-expression.
Her home is a living craft museum, filled with colorful fabrics, a wall of ribbons, several sewing machines, thread and buttons, and an embroidery machine set up in the attic, her workspace.
Terry works for clients of all calibers. A lady from the East Coast bought one of her doll wedding dresses for her daughter, another from California ordered several doll outfits to entertain her daughter while she was undergoing chemo treatment, and during the isolation of COVID-19, Terry even made face masks for her husband’s parents in England.
When Terry met her husband online on Boxing Day in 2000, their marriage on August 11, 2001 made the Waverly newspaper, as at the time romances were rare to blossom online.
“He’s my biggest fan and critic now,” Terry said. “He voted for me (for the DIY Hero) every day so far and his colleagues voted. It doesn’t matter if I win or not, it’s a great adventure and I’m enjoying it.