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Thelma Lewis DeMet                                                                                                                                                                          

                     St Charles Designer Making a Splash With Clothes
                          Small in Size, But Big in Quality and Style

By Christine A. Verstraete

Move over Perry Ellis, Halston and Chanel.

   Those looking for miniature haute couture are noticing the Thelma Lewis DeMet label.

   While the apparel items created by this St Charles resident are small in size, they are no less appealing, fashionable - or well made - than their life size counterparts.

   No matter that they are designed for miniature dollhouse enthusiasts working in one-inch to one-foot scale. Her insistence on quality and attention to detail, are what has this astute businesswoman succeeding at something she loves.

   "I knew my forte was working with fabrics," says Thelma, who has been a seamstress since the eighth grade. "Every time I make something, I think, 'oh boy, I'd like to wear that." Thelma honed her flair for fashion working as a buyer at some of the more exclusive clothing boutiques on Michigan  Avenue and Oak Street in Chicago. Then she discovered dollhouses and miniatures,  attending her first specialty miniature show as a dealer in 1989.

   Since then, she has developed a full line of miniature clothing and become a recognized dealer  nation-wide, and has clients in Canada, France, England, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. She also was named an Artisan with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans, in 1991 and received her Fellow status in 1997.

   Her success lies in her craftsmanship. Although her scale clothing pieces are not functional, but designed for that added touch of realism in a miniature room setting,  Thelma doesn't believe in shortcuts. "I want to make my garments look as real as possible," says Thelma, noting her preference for working with silk. "Drapeability - that a garment flows naturally - is extremely important."

    If  her women's apparel pieces could be blown up to life-size, their contemporary styling would put them on top of any best dressed list. There are the flashy gold metallic skirts with the black and gold metallic jackets, plus matching evening bags.

    Other wardrobe pieces include, lacy peignoirs and nightgowns made from antique fabric and lace, and even lacy undergarments and hosiery. There are leather skirts and handbags. She also makes hats of every style from mink to classic or with a dash of color.

    Her menswear line includes everything from striped sport shirts and colorful ties to complete suits, tuxedos and formal shirts with matching cummerbund and bow-tie.  Oh, and don't forget the sexy striped briefs and sporty silk boxers. There's a full line of children's wear, too.

    Besides running a successful business and making her mark in the miniatures world, Thelma is also a supporter of public education. A former Chicagoan, Thelma organized a grassroots program to monitor the Chicago Public Schools' student bus system, resulting in fines levied against many contracted providers. She received an Outstanding Volunteers Award from the school system and was also nominated for a United Way Golden Heart Award for her contributions.

    She also presented her business and products to Chicago students as part of the school system's speakers bureau, introducing the students to a different kind of art form, many had not had the opportunity to see the miniature Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute.  She hopes to continue her work with students in her St Charles community.


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