There are certain undeniable signs of summer: barbecue grills being dragged out of the garage, sounds of more people talking and laughing outdoors into the night, visions of flags fluttering in the breeze. The warmer months bring a parade of people more inclined to show off their skin and their curves. Novelist Irwin Shaw wrote a classic short story called “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses.” Doll seamstress and designer Edith Schmidt is a BJD mirror to Shaw’s meditation. Her dolls seem to live and breathe the peaceful, halcyon days of summer. They are, indeed, “The Girl Dolls in Their Summer Dresses.”
Edith Schmidt’s company, Edith’s Editions, has been creating idyllic dolls and their couture clothing for more than a decade and a half. Initially, Edith made cloth-covered ceramic-headed dolls and dress them in white batiste and lace. They were lovely collectibles filled with hope and dreams. “It progressed and grew as I added more sizes and wired the arms and fingers so they could be posed,” Edith reminisces. “During this period of time, my mother traveled with me and was my best salesperson. We had many friends we enjoyed visiting with when we traveled to shows in the Midwest and the South. As times changed, mother’s health restricted her travel and space became an issue. I redirected the business to production of doll clothes specifically for BJDs.”
Recognizing that the BJD movement would become a force to be reckoned with, Edith Schmidt decided to stake a plot of creative ground in this new terrain. Noting how the dolls were snowballing in popularity, but the clothing providers were still scarce, Edith decided to fill that void. “When I transitioned to clothing for BJDs, I also added to my inventory of cotton fabric to include many shades and patterns of floral fabrics as well as coordinating solids and prints,” Edith reveals. She was aware that BJD collectors like to mix it up! The dolls, which frequently boast swappable limbs, eyes, and wigs, are the very definition of changeable. Edith’s costuming would match that versatility.
“During the past few years, many doll artists have introduced BJDs in various sizes. This creates a challenge when sewing for them,” she points out. Interestingly, many BJDs are getting smaller and smaller over time. Call it the “Alice in Wonderland” effect. It’s true that BJDs are fluctuating in heights: reaching mammoth sizes, like nearly 3 feet tall, and then scaling all the way down to way less than half that size. “One of my primary goals will be to include these little ones so they will also have choices for their wardrobe,” Edith Schmidt guaranteed.
Knowing that these outfits are a cornerstone of collecting — doll owners want their dolls to reflect their own preferences — Edith approaches her business with a keen mind-set. “I strive to create imaginative clothing that is serviceable and reasonable in price. I choose cotton laces and trims to complement the fabrics both in pattern and color,” she explains. “Since most of the outfits are in cotton, they are washable on a delicate cycle.” Edith Schmidt is one of those rare doll dreamers: she is able to combine wishes and reality.
Schmidt has always had a weakness for fabric and the cloth that transforms a doll into a faux person. She knows that the doll costume adds that essential finishing touch: guiding a doll into being nearly real. “During the coming months, I will be sewing for all the little ones, in addition to supplementing the wardrobes for MDSs and SDs,” she emphasizes. “My plan is to continue to maintain a collection of unique fashions for popular BJDs,” Edith stresses. True to her word, Edith Schmidt is busy fulfilling orders — literally becoming a “wish fulfiller.”
“I will be including inventory for the smaller BJDs in my Etsy shop (Ediths Editions Closet) and I’ll also be attending many of the BJD conventions,” she forecasts. As I go to blog, Edith Schmidt will be on hand at the BJDC Texas in Austin (August 29 to 31) and the MDCC in San Antonio (September 18 through 21). Edith Schmidt’s summer will include trips from her Arizona home to these BJD get-togethers.
If she stays true to form, when she’s not at her table or booth, she’ll be scouring for more fabric, more trim, more lace, and more ways to make her design dreams real. “Shopping for fabric is something I love to do. It’s a habit I inherited from my grandmother, aunt, and mother. When we traveled, Mother always knew that if I was not with her, I was in the fabric department,” Edith Schmidt recalls. Cloth and prints, patterns and trims — these are the fabric of her business. They are the tools that help her coax forward “The Girl Dolls in Their Summer Dresses.”