Going Dutch: Dressing a Vintage Wooden Doll

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Last spring I was fortunate to attend a Luncheon in Junction City Oregon with a presentation on wooden dolls. This luncheon had quite a large selection of “Helpers,” or dolls and related items for raffle. Attendees could purchase raffle tickets and place their tickets in the bag next to items they hoped to win.


The “Helpers” that I won at the Wooden Doll Luncheon

Almost embarassingly, I won several items for which I had placed only one ticket in the bag! However, I did win one doll for whom I had placed half a dozen tickets–a hand carved wooden doll from Europe.


This 12 3/4″ doll is marked on the back in ink with the artist’s initials and the date, 2001. She is reputed to have been bought by Barb Hilliker, the Bleuette doll expert and author, while on a trip to Europe. She was donated as a “helper” by Annie Roupe. It does amaze me the experiences my dolls have had before they come to live with me!



This doll has marvelous carved details in her face, hair, hands, and even a carved chemise neckline. As with many of the dolls who come my way, she came with no clothes. Her upper arms are made of coarse muslin fabric, and are not stuffed.

Since she is a girl of the Netherlands, I wanted to dress her appropriately. I am not too familiar with traditional Dutch costume beyond the wooden shoes and the cap with pointed ends, so research was needed. I found these images that inspired my doll’s costume:

Dutch girl and Daschund

Traditional Netherlands girl costume 1910s

Dutch girl w wooden doll Nico Jungmann 1872 - 1935 Dutch

Young Dutch girl w basket of fish Edmond Louyot 1861 - 1920

My Dutch girl now has doll-sized greeting cards that I made with these images to carry with her so that she can reminisce about her origins.


The costume that I made consists of six pieces of clothing, mostly made from small fabric remnants. The drawers and slip are of unbleached muslin. No blouse with sleeves was needed because the doll’s arms are made of muslin. Therefore, I made a sleeveless full slip rather than a petticoat. The skirt is lightweight denim. The bright red bodice is lined with the striped fabric that makes the top part of the apron. The stripes and patches on the apron are similar to those in two of the vintage images above. In one image above, the young girl has a lace apron, and she is holding a doll. She is dressed for indoors, and appears to be wealthy. My doll is a working girl and carries a basket with a (Japanese) clay fish, similar to the last vintage image. However, she does have lace on her bonnet, which is made from an antique fabric remnant that had the lace on it already.


For me, making this Dutch costume for an almost vintage hand carved doll was something different from making a 19th century dress for a German doll. It may not be completely authentic, yet I am quite happy with the regional quality that it evokes. And this fine, hard working young lady can be proud to stand on display fully clothed in the Dutch fashion.

Dutch school, 17th century from Christies

This Dutch kindje is certainly nobility with her rich dress and delicate poppet.