Playing with Dolls

For a moment there, I considered starting this post in mysterious fashion, talking about how my latest sewing project isn’t going to be for me and should take less time because I’ll be sewing for someone a lot smaller than me.  Two smaller someones, in fact.

Then I realised everyone would probably think I was pregnant with twins, so I decided to give the cryptic approach a miss and come straight out with it: I’m going to play with dolls.

Yes, I should be trying to create order in my sewing space instead of a fortified wall of fabric and notions ringing my table.  Yes, I should be doing my best to clear the books off the spare room floor so my friend has somewhere to sleep when she comes down (somehow, I don’t think a mattress of books will cut it in the hospitality stakes).  But am I doing that?

No; I’m turning my attention to dolls instead.

Not just any dolls, though; dolls I made somewhere around the last ice age and who’ve been sitting about in their underthings ever since.  I unearthed them from somewhere earlier this year and they’ve been tormenting me ever since in their silent but good-natured fashion; smiling a little shyly about their lamentable state of undress.

This story begins back in my Year 8 Textiles class.  One of our assignments was to make and dress a doll and this consumed my life.  Long before I stayed up late to write my assignments the night before they were due, I stayed up into the wee hours sewing pants and crafting a denim jacket from willpower alone.

And because I grew up in the state where we dress in layers because the weather has commitment issues, I later added a colourwork jumper to the ensemble.  There’s no reason a doll should miss out on layering just because it’s incapable of feeling changes in temperature.  Or so I very much hope.

I made two more dolls using that pattern, of which one remains, sitting happily on a chair in the parents’ guest bedroom.  When I came to make some more dolls, I discovered I’d lost the original pattern, so I made up a new one and had great plans to dress my new dolls in old fashioned outfits.  Plans that faltered to a stop once I’d knitted up stockings for one doll, little socks for another, and clad them both in petticoats.

Plans that are being picked up again with a vengeance.

Before I go on, here’s a little gallery to catch you up.

Here is the remaining original doll, with her hair still crimped from the last time I did it (and this was a looooong time ago). This doll lives in the guest bedroom at my parents' place in Beechworth.
This was the jumper I made for my very first doll in my Year 8 Textiles class. It features colourwork and a completely improvised collar. An an Amnesty International badge, for some reason.
Here are the scandlously-clad dolls who have inspired my current project. I'm reasonably certain their names were Rosalie and Eleanor but I can't remember which was which.
Detail of the bows on the bodices. I may need to switch their underthings so the bows match the fabric on the outside. Despite the fact that no-one but I will know they don't match otherwise. This is in no way obsessive.

My first step was to get rid of the bootees on the dark-haired doll (possibly Rosalie) and replace them with proper stockings like the ones sported by the other doll (possibly Eleanor).  I made some changes to the originals, most notably the move to knitting them in the round and avoiding any sort of seaming whatsoever.

The next step is to stitch the plaits to the dolls’ heads to keep them in place.

After this, I will move on to the step that involves creating a pattern and sewing up two actual dresses for the dolls to wear.  And since I am continuing the layering theme, albeit from an historical perspective, possible-Rosalie will have a shawl and possible-Eleanor will acquire a pinafore.

And then it will be done and I will have to hold myself back from convincing myself that they each need a different outfit for fancy occasions and possibly a lighter-weight one for Summer.  Besides, I need some new clothes for Summer, so they’ll just have to wait in line and be grateful they’re not sitting around in their underthings any more.

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hashigal 7th October 2015 - 9:56 pm

OMG. They look just like a doll I had when I was a girl; her name was Mathilda. Except she had green “hair”. And I tried to give her a fringe. It didn’t go well. Then there was Jemima. She had black plaits. You’ve done so well!

Katie Writes Stuff 8th October 2015 - 11:29 am

I love your dolls’ names and I can feel a growing desire to make another doll and call her Matilda. This sort of project could occupy the rest of my life if I let it!

Thanks for your encouragement. 🙂 I’m hoping they’ll look even better once they’re properly attired and fit to be seen in company.

Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it!! 9th October 2015 - 12:17 am

My sister made two for me, one that looked and dressed like me and one that looked and dressed like my husband (before he shaved off his moustache!). The possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to see what you do!

Katie Writes Stuff 9th October 2015 - 9:39 am

That sounds absolutely amazing! I need to resist the temptation to do something like that or I’ll never get back to sewing for myself… 😀

Danielle 11th October 2015 - 3:01 pm

You definitely had me going there with that intro!

I miss the dollmaking days! They were such a fun part of my creative journey. This post encourages me that maybe that time will resurface someday.

Katie Writes Stuff 11th October 2015 - 5:56 pm

It will return when you least expect! On the up side, you probably won’t mind too much because it’s a lot of fun.


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