Monday, March 23, 2015

Sewing in Miniature

I was the type of girl who was obsessed with dolls--their clothes especially.  I started sewing when I was six because I wanted to make doll clothes.  My grandmother was a kindred spirit and she used to make the most wonderful doll clothes for me and my sister and our cousins, including fantastically styled, retro Barbie doll outfits.  (I inherited her 1960's magazine of Barbie patterns and it is awesome.)

As an adult, I didn't lose my interest in sewing for dolls, so Grace and Brigid had pretty nice doll wardrobes, and I dabbled in doll making as well.  I had a standard rag doll pattern and I used to sell or donate them or give them as gifts.

My "standard" rag doll--not sure where the forehead stain came from.  
Anyway, this is all a long preamble to say that I haven't had any time to make dolls in years, but recently, I was going through my box of patterns and found an unfinished doll, not one of my standard rag dolls, but a doll from a kit designed by Gail Wilson for her Early American Doll series.

I had two kits, actually.  The kit for the doll itself and another for a Shaker outfit.  The doll was faceless and with no arms or legs.  So I finished the doll and made the Shaker outfit.  It was a fun project and not particularly difficult, although sewing in miniature can be fiddly and the straw bonnet was a bitch--partly because the glue that came with the kit was dried out and I substituted Martha Steward glitter paste, which is too stiff.  (The glue itself isn't glittery, it's intended to affix glitter to things.)

I had difficulty with the facial antiquing.
The paints and varnish had dried out and reconstituting them with water wasn't entirely successful.
Painted on shoes.  The feet are filled with sand to give them heft.
Shaker dress and apron

Shaker bertha
                                         

Straw bonnet



The bonnet barely fits over the hair, so I hung it from her neck by the strings and it looks like she's hauling a covered wagon on her back.  I wouldn't have chosen all that brown myself, but it's what came in the kit.

Now that the doll is finished, I have no idea what to do with it.  For now, she's sitting on top of the pantry shelves, guarding our staples.

Pantry Goddess

9 comments:

  1. She's sweet! I love dolls - I've made some clothes but I've yet to make a doll. I have an old craft book that's full of doll and other small animal patterns. I've made some of the smaller stuffed animals, but the dolls sort of intimidated me.

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    1. Doll making is strangely satisfying. I tend to anthropomorphize objects, so it's almost like creating a living thing.

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  2. My mom used to sew and knit outfits on the fly for my and my sisters dolls. The outfits were more utilitarian than fancy, usually because the doll's clothing had been lost, and we couldn't have naked dolls running around. :-)

    Emma and I (mostly me) made lots of clothes for her American Girl Dolls. I actually really enjoyed it --I only sew by hand, and doll clothes are small enough so that method works well. The AG dolls and their wardrobe have been put away now, perhaps for some future grandchild. I've never made a doll, although when Emma was really young her favorite doll was a rag doll made by a great aunt. We still have that doll too, although her face is mostly fabric threads now.

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    1. I loved sewing for my daughters' AG dolls, and it's awesome how many AG sewing patterns there are.

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  3. What IS it about sewing or knitting in miniature that is so much fun? Those clothes in the first picture up there are positively adorable!

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    1. Thanks! Unfortunately, the sweater is badly moth-eaten. :(

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  4. knitting yes but sewing is beyond me......you are very clever....delightful!!

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  5. I have made so many doll clothes...and a few dolls too. Yours are darling.

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  6. Sweet doll! My mom made me scads of Barbie and doll clothes from scraps. I wish I'd kept some of them, but I passed them along with the dolls.

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