When I was little we lived in various caravan parks in heavy industrial towns around Australia as my father pursued his career as a construction electrician; Port Kembla in NSW where the steel industry is town's lifeblood, Mount Isa, the red heart of Outback Queensland and an obscure place called Saraji, about 100 miles inland from Mackay in Queensland, the home of a massive open cut coal mine. I had a constant companion during these years, my teddy who I gave the highly original name of Ted.
My Dad documented my childhood with his super eight camera and there are blurry movies of me running down endless hills swinging teddy by the hand. Me swinging upside down on some jungle gym which wouldn't get Occupational Health and Safety approval today showing my knickers with teddy sitting safely propped against a pole at the base looking out for me. Me curled up sleepily somewhere with teddy tucked under my arm and my thumb firmly in my mouth.
But Ted wasn't an only child. Somewhere in my early years, Susie also came along. Susie was my other constant playmate. She is 15 inches tall (39 cm) about America Girl sized but she was made in England. (It even says so on the back of her head). The weirdest thing about Susie has always been the fact that she has white hair - old lady hair on young girl doll.
|The suitcase here holding Susie's clothes is my first school suitcase, or port as we called them in New South Wales.|
|Susie in her winter underwear|
I honed my dressmaking skills dressing Susie. When I was little, my Mum made her clothes and Teddy would cross dress in Susie's clothes. As I got older, I learned to sew and the rudiments of pattern drafting from my Grandmother who was a professional seamstress. I remember being able to rummage through her precious offcuts and trimmings to make Susie clothes. Not many of these gorgeous but somewhat shoddily made creations survived to this day.
|This was my first dress I made on a sewing machine.|
|Nightie and Dressing gown|
|This outfit was original made for the boy's defunct knitted boy doll "Man". They also fit Teddy when he wants to dress up and the cable cardie fits Susie too.|
|Underwear and socks|
|Some of the wardrobe|
|The girls had matching outfits to this.|