Stella Julianna and the New Autumn Jumper

 

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I like living here with Mama.  I wonder what I will get to do next.

Stella Julianna glanced up from reading her book, Heather Bells.  She was contemplating her cozy life since she came to live with her Mama, Miss Jennie.  Many days, she played and daydreamed by herself.  She had toys and books just her size, and she loved snuggling and pretending with the soft animals, especially her giraffe and the very soft lamb.  She also liked listening to stories from the antique dolls.  Miss Ruby always had a tale about her adventures in New England last summer, and the older dolls reverently told about long-ago times when they lived with little girls who were all grown up and gone away now.

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I was SO excited to go on this special doll outing with Mama!

Then there were the special times with Mama!  Julianna knew that she wouldn’t catch a wink of sleep the night before the Portland Doll and Teddy Bear Show in January!  She just knew there would be lots of things for her to look at there.  When the day came, she had ever so much fun!  She was admired by many people there, and even tried on a dress to help the mama of another Stella who hadn’t come to the show.  With Mama’s help, she found a sweet felt dolly for herself, hats, and oh, so many dresses!

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My felt dolly is just the right vintage for me!  (1930’s)  And looky my new clothes and hats!  A polka dot party dress, a shamrock dress, a summer dress, a flannel nightgown, and even fancy dresses!

When she came home, Stella Julianna dreamed of lavender scented summer breezes when she could wear her new “Patsy” dress from the 1930’s, and play with the ducklings as they waddled over the lawn from their nearby pond.

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Will everyone think I’m a china lady too?

While the weather was cold and rainy, Stella Julianna played fancy dress with her growing wardrobe.

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Mama brought me this one from Hawaii before I came to live here.  She must think I’m Miss Coconut Queen.  But I’m really a mermaid!

 

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This dress is much more comfortable.  All it needs is a blue ribbon belt.  (Hear that Mama?) Now, what to do–work or play?  Oh!  I know!  Laundry can wait for nice weather.  I’m playing Noah’s Ark!

Springtime came before she could say “Spring Freshet on Plum Creek,” and Julianna was wearing her pretty floral “Patsy” dress, admiring the Bleeding Hearts.

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Going barefoot is the best!–and my lamb really IS the softest of all.

All summer long, Stella Julianna played and daydreamed.  She hoped that she would get to travel soon, like Miss Ruby did.  Mama told her that maybe when the next winter was over, a trip would present itself.  Then, the days began to shorten, and the nights became deliciously cool for blankets on the bed again.  Mama told Julianna it was time to make her a new Autumn dress.

 

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Mama thought I would pick the blue flowers on the feedsack fabric, but I surprised her!  I want the green with bright bits fabric!  The purple flowers fabric behind me is the Gibson Girl blouse Mama is making for herself, but she stopped on it to make my new dress for Autumn.

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The first thing was to sew new stockings.  I got two new pair–red for the Autumn Jumper, and blue stripes for another time.  Which do you like best?

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My small clothes are all finished.  Thank you Holly Hobbie for sharing your pattern–only a few alterations were needed.  Next comes the fun part–the jumper! 

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Isn’t it just splendid!  Even a beret with an antique green thistle button!

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The back of me shows my matching hair bow.  Of course you know, every Stella dress needs a hair bow.

Now that Stella Julianna had a warm and comfortable jumper for autumn, she could settle into the cozy indoors for her lessons.

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Mama thinks I can learn better at home, and I’m glad because I like it here best of all.  I will study reading, writing, arithmetic, science, geography, history, cultures, ecology, art, music, poetry, spirituality, and handicrafts . . .  Oh, so many things to learn about! I like best when I can curl up with a cup of cambric tea and my favorite Laura Ingalls or Beatrix Potter book.

Julianna was glad to have so many things to learn about, and a new jumper to wear while learning.  She hoped that there would be new discoveries, and maybe even travels, to tell about soon.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Kling to Simple Delights: The Restoration of a Kling China Doll

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Author’s restored and dressed King shoulder-head doll

One of the most delightful simple pleasures for me is the creative act of restoring and dressing a dilapidated antique doll, and then basking in her new countenance. This is the story of the re-creation of Jasper Anne, a little Kling shoulder-head doll.

Mary Krombholz, the definitive authority on Thuringian porcelain factories that made china dolls, tells us that “The C.F. Kling & Co. porcelain factory made porcelain products in the Thuringian [Germany] town of Ohrdruf from its founding in 1834 until the early 1950s.” The production of dolls by this firm probably began in the 1850s with bald head glazed porcelain dolls. “From the simple bald heads made in the 1850s, the Kling factory artists designed a group of shoulder heads with elaborately decorated hairstyles and shoulderplates that are unequalled in modeling and facial painting.”

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Page 206, 207 from Mary Krombholz’ book, A Pictorial Reference Guide for German Chinas, illustrates the two Kling dolls in my collection on the lower right.

By the late 1860’s Kling was making Parian shoulder heads that were worthy of display in any fine Victorian home; however, the dolls were intended as toys for children. (Note, a Parian doll is not from Paris, rather is so named because the porcelain is very white like Paris clay. The porcelain on Parian dolls is not glazed, as it is for china dolls.) Kling continued to develop the style of their shoulder heads, following current fashion, and by the 1880s they were making black and blonde haired Kinderkopf, or child dolls, as modeled in these two dolls in my collection. Kling also made bisque dolls (unglazed flesh colored porcelain) with glass eyes, yet the facial painting is consistent through all of these doll variations.

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I currently have two Kling china dolls in my collection. They portray the Kling painting style of almond shaped eyes with large round irises. The lips are heart shaped on top, but unlike Hertwig dolls, the lower lip is a half-circle rather than an elongated oval, and has an accent line the same color as the lip paint.

My little Jasper Anne, the black haired Kling, started out as two parts. The factory made body, that had seen much play and child-made repairs, was found at the very end of a Portland Doll Show, hidden in a box on the floor, years ago. I liked its folky charm, and purchased it for next-to-nothing. I purchased the shoulder-head on eBay several years later, as I sought to add a Kling doll to my collection. The face has firing “pepper spots” which look like uneven freckles. I thought the doll would be a boy, and I named him Jasper.

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Kling china with pepper spots. Author’s collection

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The doll parts in process of restoration. The right leg has been re-covered in muslin to stop the sawdust leakage.

 

Eventually I realized that this shoulder-head and body needed to go together. The body had no arms and was leaking sawdust at the child-made repairs on the legs, and through the original dark brown, coarsly woven, fabric of the lower legs. It took me another year to find the appropriate arms to complete the body. I gently removed the old repairs which were made with wool yarn and bits of homespun fabric, then re-covered the original brown lower legs with muslin. I re-incorporated the dark yarn and homespun fabric in the repair to keep its authenticity. After making muslin upper arms and filling them with sawdust, I attached them across the shoulders, and then put the shoulder-head on the body, sewing it in place under the shoulder tabs.

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The back of the restored body showing the wool yarn and homespun fabric from the original child-made repairs. Jasper Anne is wearing her new felt boots in this photo.

Next came designing the costume. I wanted it to retain the “play doll” flavor, and to have a pastoral charm. I chose a piece of fine antique knitted lace to edge the petticoat, which is attached to a bodice rather than a waistband. I did not make drawers since the body incorporates lace at the bottom of the upper legs, as seen in the above photo. I added burgundy ribbon beading in the lace of the petticoat to match the dress. The lace on the petticoat makes it a little too fine for play, but what a lovely effect, and after all it is protected with her pinafore.

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Jasper Anne in her new petticoat with antique knitted lace. She is just shy of 9″ tall.

The dress is made of burgundy linen with a cotton calico pinafore. Sewing techniques included machine and hand stitching.

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The linen bodice is lined with the calico print. Setting the sleeve in the armhole was a careful proceedure, and it was hand-sewn in place. The length of the finished sleeve is just 3″.

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The dark burgundy linen dress works well with Jasper Anne’s bright face painting. The bobbin lace (I think) on her cuffs echos the petticoat lace and is set off by the dark dress, which has two “growth tucks” above the hem.

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The pinafore was based on an antique style which had red embroidery worked on white fabric. I hand-drafted the pattern based on the photo of the antique pinafore, and hand stitched all the way around to finish the edges.

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Next came a bonnet in a Kate Greenway style to coordinate with the dress and pinafore. I used a little antique Staffordshire dish as a template for the circle of the bonnet crown.

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Finally, to complete the outdoor ensemble, Jasper Anne needed boots for her muslin feet. Again, I hand drafted the shape for the wool felt boots. Her feet are stub shaped, so no sole was needed.

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The boots have glass bead buttons, and the bonnet ties with a silk ribbon.

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All of the garments fasten with metal snaps, and glass and mother of pearl buttons were added to finish the outfit.

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Jasper Anne is completely clothed and ready to play on the prairie or walk to town.

From conception to finished doll, this project took me close to two years, including much wait time between finding parts, gathering materials, and the calling of life’s necessities. Jasper Anne is another example of how a lovely antique doll can be restored and created from inexpensive parts to become a true simple delight.

Reference:

Krombholz, Mary Gorham. A Pictorial Reference Guide for German Chinas, 2009.

 

Antique photo English curly blonde girl with lowbrow china doll

A doll to be played with.

 

 

Introducing Hannah Lavender through The Daybook of Eleanor Rose

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Although an antique doll who comes to us often feels private and personal, we  know that our antique dolls and their clothing have a history of their own. To have provenance for a doll is a wonderful validation of her place of origin and her people who came before us. Many dolls that come to us from “The Market” do not come with provenance. Below is my creative imagining for how this wax head doll, who I have named Hannah Lavender, came to her family of origin, and how she had her wardrobe bestowed upon her:

Antique French Regency dress in muslin

Antique Regency Era Fine Muslin Dress. Notice the diamond shaped back panel.

April, 1811:    It is in this month that I, Eleanor Rose, reach my 16th year. I have received an invitation to the ball to be held at Dawlish next month. I am admonished to keep my deportment demur, tho I must confess here that I am quite overcome with excitement! MaMa has orderd muslin from London. My new gown is to be the latest cut with high waist, tiny puff sleeves, and narrow skirts.

Late April, 1811:    My new gown is ready! The muslin is of pale lavender patterned in circlets. The sleeves and bodice seams are set with tiny piping, and there are self fabric bands accenting the hem. How the muslin does flow when I walk and dance! MaMa has saved some nice lavender sprigs to accent my hair, and I am to wear her amethyst necklace and earrings. The ball is Saturday next!

 

Antique Sheer Regengy dresses Hamburg Museum

Oh what airey muslin!

May 1811:    The Dawlish ball was just the most gay affair! Ever so many ladies turned out in the palest muslin gowns, though mine was not to be bested. I was introduced to Mr. Adam Fletcher, a most amiable dance partner. He attended on me often during the evening and arranged to be seated at my side for the banquet. He is to call on us tomorrow. My heart is aflutter!

Antique Regency cream muslin dress with Spencer

A spencer jacket and lovey embroidery.

June, 1817:    Our dearest baby girl, Juliet Henrietta, arrived this month–the very month that my Mr. Fletcher and I were wed these five years gone. Charles and Hudson are lovely energetic boys yet I am delighted to have a girl child to dote upon.

January, 1823:    Christmas was a fine celebration this year. Charles received a bow with arrows and Hudson has a fine set of soldiers. Juliet was delighted with her wooden doll with black curls on each side of her face. Adam also brought her a wee set of tea dishes made in the Staffordshire district. We all delighted in the artistry of the blue painting on the pot and tiny cups. They will be kept back for Sunday play until Juliet is old enough to care for them properly. We will keep occupied these cold rainy days in making petticoats and frocks from pickings out of the rag bag for the new poppet.

Regency boy and girl

Early 19th century attire for well-to-do children

October, 1847:    Our Juliet has given us a granddaughter. Praise God, the child is born alive and is thriving. She is christened Louisa Elizabeth. Master Graham, being nine years her senior will not be of an age for her playmate. He will soon be learning the estate.

October, 1856:    Louisa is quite the young lady. Adam, the ever doting Grand PaPa presented her with the most lovely wax head doll for her birthday. The doll has curls of real auburn hair and blue glass eyes. She is of a likeness to Louisa. I took my old muslin dress that I wore when I first was introduced to Adam from the rag pile. There is enough good material to make a play frock with a yoke for Louisa and a dress with tiny white braid trim for the doll. Louisa has named her doll Hannah.

Blonde girl white dress wooden doll portrait

Mid 19th century child dress with wide neckline and puff sleeves.

June, 1870: Some days my tired old bones do not allow me to walk down the stairs. Today Louisa came up to sit with me. She is quite the fashionable lady now, and is skilled at copying the latest Paris designs. She learned sewing making simple frocks for her wax doll. She brought that old doll up to show me with a new frock she had created with remnants. It is fashioned of bright red strips with gold tinsel woven in the fabric. The little frock has a low waist and a nicely fashioned coat. I must say, it lacks the elegance and flow of my old lavender muslin dance dress. I wonder what ever became of Juliet’s wooden doll with the black curls . . .

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This is how the wax head doll appeared on the sales table in Portland, August 2015. Everyone, including me, noticed the lovely and demure muslin dress before noticing the doll to whom it belonged!

Again, the above journal is a fictional account. Yet it is an apt provenance for a lovely little doll and her varied wardrobe.

Hannah Lavender is 14.5″ tall. She has a shoulder-head attached to a cloth body with possibly papier mache arms and legs with bare feet. Her limbs are smoothy painted or gessoed. She has blue glass stationary eyes and soft mohair auburn hair with bangs. I believe that she is English.

Dating wax dolls is not easy because they are rarely marked. This little girl seems to be from the mid 1800’s. A post by Dolls By DianeComplete History of Wax Dolls, gives good information on this type of antique doll.

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The lavender muslin dress seems to be the earliest style in the wardrobe , possibly dating circa 1850, while the red dress with the drop waist, pleated back, and longer jacket is an 1870’s to 1880’s style.

 

The lavender muslin dress, which is the highlight of Hannah Lavender’s wardrobe, is a lovely creation in its modesty, even though the red dress is more showy. Muslin is a plain weave fabric which originated in cotton in the Middle East and was imported to England from India. It was a favored dress fabric in the early to mid 19th century in gauzy weave of pale pastel colors. Jane Austen’s Mr. Tilney knew all about fine muslin–his sister wore only white muslin dresses. Today, we know muslin more readily in a denser weave of bleached or unbleached serviceable material that was used for backing quilts and making sheets, curtains, aprons, nightgowns, and undergarments.

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This photo shows the reverse side of the dress with the cartridge pleats at the waist. You can also see the ties that fasten the dress at the back neckline. All is hand sewn.

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The hem is reinforced with a denser cotton which gives the dress more body to hold its flared skirt. This is different from the airy flowing Regency styles shown above.

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Here is the condition of the dress when I received it, after a light laundering. The hem is adorned with two self fabric bias cut bands edged with tiny white braid at the top of each band. Some of the thread holding the bands in place has rotted away, leaving the bands loose and with frayed edges.

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A close-up shows the delicate print of white circles on the pale lavender muslin. It is faded with a few sections showing more color. The top band is newly sewn while the bottom band is tacked in place with pins to position it for hand sewing.

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Hannah Lavender’s wardrobe consists of the featured red dress and lavender muslin dress. She wears a knee-length chemise and ankle-length split drawers under her muslin dress. There is also a cream wool narrow petticoat with a cotton waistband, two coarser made short dresses (one in off-white with black velvet bands at the hem, one in pink with white stripes) and a soft muslin nightgown with a pink satin ribbon. She also has a straw bonnet with blue silk lining, which is cracked at the brim. The added brown velvet cap with red flowers compliments the red dress.

 

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Hannah Lavender is sweet and demure with her freshly mended dress. Though stable, the crack in the wax on her forehead is evidence of her age and endurance.

 

Finding an antique doll with her original wardrobe is exciting! Some dolls had several dresses and accompanying clothing made within a few years as their young mistresses learned sewing skills. Other dolls, as seems to be the case with Hannah Lavender, had clothing evidencing styles from a wider span of years and sewing skill level. The styles and construction are indeed a delight to behold, learn from, and speculate about.

 

Clothes Maketh the Doll

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As we know from revered doll collectors and historians such as Mildred Seely, the best and most valuable antique dolls to collect are those that are all original.  That is, they retain the head, limbs, body, and clothing which they had as new dolls.  We also know that these all-original dolls are now scarce, and expensive when they are available. As Mildred said in her book, Beloved China Dolls, there are more collectors now than there were in the mid-twentieth century, and the same number of antique dolls.  I would add that there are likely fewer dolls, as some of them break and deteriorate, though we can always hope that more are being recovered from years spent sleeping in attics and closets.  Furthermore, the price of desirable dolls goes up so that only wealthy collectors can afford and hoard them, while the economy in the USA has decreased the ability of most of us to be able to buy luxury items such as dolls for our beloved collections.  If you follow auctions in Antique Doll Collector magazine and similar venues, then you know that the price realized for many of the antique dolls on auction, or for sale, today is enough to cover the wages of a woman such as myself for a number of years!

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Fear not, kindred low-income doll collectors!  There are still many opportunities to find inexpensive not-so-perfect antique dolls that can become lovely additions to our collections with just a little bit of creativity, and perhaps a small stash of sewing remnants.  Such was the case for Florence, a little unassuming doll-house sized china head doll who I acquired a few years ago, for about the equivalent of one hour of my wages.  Florence has an unusual hair style with her black hair covered with a net in back.  I have never before seen a small doll with this style.

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Because of her small size, it is difficult to photograph Florence with my inexpensive camera. Sorry for the poor focus.

Florence is 7 1/2″ tall and has her shoulder head glued to her body since she has no sew holes.  Her face painting is well done for such a small doll, yet I cannot tell which factory made her, or which 19th century decade she originated from.  I do not know if her body is original to her, or if it was placed with her head later.  Her limbs are bisque in the style made in the early 20th century for inexpensive play dolls.  Her coarse woven fabric body and legs are made all in one piece in a rather blockish shape.  She seems to be stuffed with cotton batting.  I sewed across her legs at the hip so that she could sit in a chair.  Her body has mildew stains as well, and is not very pretty.

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Choosing fabric and trim for Florence’s new clothing,

Even though Florence has a well-painted face and an unusual hairstyle, she came clothed in a poor child-made dress of cheap wide-width lace, and she is modest about her less-than-perfect body.  A new outfit is just what she needs to improve her self-esteem!

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Blocking out the small clothes.

As usual, I did not use a pattern for the simple lines of this outfit.  I measured and estimated size, adding seam allowances.  In the photo above, the white undergarments are cut from an antique petticoat remnant.  The large rectangle at the top is Florence’s petticoat, the small piece under it is the waistband, and the two rectangles to the left are the drawers.  The final shaped piece on the right is the chemise.  You can see that the antique indigo remnant is narrow, and this size dictated the overall width of the dress.

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Florence already appears more shapely in her new small clothes made of antique fabric and vintage lace.

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The drawers, made from two tubes of fabric, are “split” and only connect with the drawstring waist. The vintage lace on all three undergarments matches.

Creating the dress took many fittings.  I wanted it to be high at the neck, long of sleeve, and to have a mid-19th century look.  The shoulders are slightly dropped and the sleeves are slightly flaired at the shoulders.  I added darts at the waist of the bodice for a more fitted look.DSC01921

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Florence’s pinafore is made of the same fabric as her under things, but I gave it a trim of new lace that is crisp and white to accent the white striped pattern in her indigo dress.  My plan for the shape of her apron was to rely on a photo of an antique doll in a similar costume. The apron part is perfect, and the bodice part is a bit unique, as I didn’t want to make it just like the one in the photo.  That’s the way mommy and auntie made doll clothes were sewn in the past, so it’s still authentic, even if I just made it up!  The tiny mob cap renders Florence fully dressed and ready to go out and tend to her sheep.

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Creating this outfit for Florence took oh so many tiny hand stitches!  I worked on it during spare moments and quiet times intermittently throughout the winter and spring. It consists of six pieces and transforms Florence from a rather modest and unremarkable doll into a winsome beauty!  I think the cotton country work clothes fit her countenance perfectly!  Admittedly, she is not all-original, and perhaps not that most desirable doll sought after by wealthy and discerning collectors.  Yet she is now rather irresistible in her unassuming way.  And all for under $30 (including the antique fabric) and some diligent sewing!

Happy creating!  ~ Jennie

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Good Old Toys and Good Old Times

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19th century American folk art. Paintings like this one are invaluable archeological evidence for clothing styles.

For me, a trip back to Connecticut means a journey into the past, in more ways than one. Part of it is that the history of European settlement on the American continent goes back so much further on the East Coast than it does on the West Coast. This means that I see architecture, homes, and museums that are older there than in Oregon, and I can find some antiques to purchase that are older than ones I can find here.

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A vintage commemorative mug proudly displays the founding date for the towne of Glastonbury.

Part of it is that one of my life chapters was spent living in Connecticut. As a result, when I visit my brother’s home in Colchester, I re-encounter memories, and belongings that have been patiently waiting for me to un-box them and bring them back into my current life.

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A treasured antique Japanese doll that I found at the Nagoya (Japan) Temple Sunday flea market in 1989 when I lived in Tokyo–another of my life’s many chapters. This doll is in the process of being restored, and has had a long nap while waiting. I will share more of her, and other Japanese dolls, in a future post.

And finally, my East Coast family keeps changing in the years since I have been back!

CT July 2014 OSV 4 grownups as old family

Oh my! This is indeed a change! The young boy on the left is me; the tall one on the right is my brother–but I’m really the oldest.

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Breanna (left) was twelve the last time I saw her. Now, though she is nine months younger than Brighde (right) she has grown taller! Okay, what can you expect? Their Grandad was 6’4″!

This trip was FABULOUS in so many ways! My brother actually took time away from work, so I was able to spend some relaxed time with him and my sister-in-law. Thanks to her awesome culinary skills, I ate scrumptious food that I didn’t have to cook! We went to lots of fun places, and I didn’t have to drive!

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Our trusty steed, AKA the salsa red van, took us everywhere we wanted to go, including to this roadside seafood stand in Mystic where we devoured yummy lobster roll, crab cake, clams, and chowder.

We encountered mermaids, pirates, and tall ships with plenty of deck prisms to let in the sunlight at Mystic Seaport Gift Shop. (We didn’t actually visit the Seaport this time.) DSC01828 DSC01832 DSC01831 DSC01830 Old Sturbridge Village Massachusettes was a mystical place that I never arrived at when I was living in Connecticut, so we made sure to set our time machine for the 1830’s this time. DSC01863 DSC01864 DSC01865

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Side view of an early 19th century “small house.”

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Detail of a reproduction 1830’s lady’s dress bodice.

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Chemise with underarm gussets is laid out on the bed.

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Oh yes! Those sweet little girl red shoes resting in a house ’til their next outdoor venture protecting little toes from the summer dust. These shoes were “for sale” (in 1830, that is) with several pairs perched on a shelf at the town’s general store

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Brighde is diligently working on her tin (aluminum) candle holder.

Of course, my ultimate shopping experience was the Brimfield MA antique fair! It was pleasant to have my brother’s company. Although he is not enthralled with antiques as I am, he is a shopper in his own right. And, I got to show off some of my antiques knowledge to him! The antique wooden boxes of all labels and sizes caught his attention, and several came home with him. I was too busy shopping–and walking!–to take many photos. I came away with everything that I had set my sights for, and a few unexpected treasures. I found a wonderful late 19th century quilt top and bottom sans batting–even though I brought my seam ripper with me to Connecticut in case I had to dismantle a quilt to fit the parts I wanted into a suitcase, I didn’t have to use it. I also found some china rimmed buttons.

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Excellent late 19th century pieced quilt top and red patterned cotton bottom. The red squares in the top are faded, but the bottom is still nice and bright. A nice selection of china buttons, and a very nice pink roller print European cotton from the mid 19th century.

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The roller print European piece and the red quilt back.

The Textile Trunk offered the most amazing finds in 19th century fabrics!

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The Textile Trunk with antique French work clothing for sale in the front.

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You can check out this awesome selection of European textiles at http://www.TextileTrunk.com

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I think this was my most wondrous find! This is an early 19th century woodblock print French cotton that used to be a bed valance curtain. Characteristic of woodblock prints of this time, it has dots of the gray color around the roses for shading. I love it so much that I bought the whole piece instead of just half of it.

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I wasn’t particularly shopping for pewter, but I ended up with a couple of interesting 1960’s pieces, and these three little “sadware” dishes made in England in the late 18th century. They are probably the oldest manufactured items I own! (I count my rocks and crystals as being older, but they are “nature’s art.”)

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I passed up several toy dressers that were not the right vintage and too costly before I found just the right place! I actually had my choice of three very nice models. One had a swivel mirror. This is the one I chose, and it works perfectly with my Victorian doll bed that came from an Indiana flea market in 1979–yes that was also another chapter in my life when I was newly married and going to school at Purdue U.

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Karen is home after a morning of errands and visiting. She is glad to have her bedroom to return to, and a cool cotton pinstripe dress to change into. The French block print cotton looks lovely as a bedcover. Notice the exquisite net and ball trim at the lower edge of the fabric. Mmm-mmm, such a find!

Amazingly, I didn’t buy any dolls on this adventurous trip, though I did consider a few, including the most astoundingly wondrous antique cloth doll that was WAY out of my reach in price. But I did bring home a few old friends.

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The large Raggedy Ann on the left was a recent fortuitious Goodwill Bins find. The middle one was also a second-hand store find years ago for my daughter. I made her replacement blue dress (she has her original pinafore) and gave her antique shoebutton eyes from Brighde’s Grandma Meta’s stash. The Little Ann and Andy are ones that I bought new in the 1970’s. The larger Ann is of the same vintage and manufacture as the small dolls. Notice that the dress print is the same.

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Here are Karen and Vicki’s childhood Ginny dolls from the 1950’s. I like to believe that the blonde was Vicki’s doll and the brunette was Karen’s, to match their coloring, but I don’t know for sure. See “About the Author” and Categories: Family, for more on Karen, Vicki, and their dolls. I’m glad I can show them to you now.

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I told you about my Liddle Kiddle in “About the Author” too. This is the only childhood doll that was actually mine in the 1960’s that I still have. The Lily of the Valley on the left is my original doll. The Rose one on the right is one I found at that Indiana flea market circa 1980.

My camera decided to stay a few days longer than I did at Old Sturbridge Village, but it finally arrived safely home in Oregon. Lucky me! But as a result, I had to rely on my brother’s good will and camera to take my final photos of a most enchanting time-travel place on the Airline Trail near Colchester. I want to share this place, and part of a story I’m working on about it, in a future post. I’ll have more to tell you about antique dolls, and I haven’t forgotten about the history of the factories that manufactured the china dolls. I’ll tell you lots more about them, and the dolls they made, soon. Happy summer adventures to all of you! Truly, Jennie

Oh, Those Enchanting Spring Bonnets!

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Miss Ruby finally gets to go out barefooted in the sunshine! The ground is wet, so she dances on her antique quilt today.

Miss Ruby has her new white dress in time for warmer weather, if we ever get any! We had pouring rain this morning, and it stopped in time for us to go out among the almost blooming tulips for a chilly photo shoot in a little bit of sunshine. Lacey white cotton dresses with snowy white bonnets are just the thing for little girls to wear when the sun shines bright. Little pink toes love to get tickled by cool new-grown grass.

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Ruby likes to feel the breeze around her ears with her bonnet hanging down her back by the bonnet strings, just like Laura Ingalls!

Ruby’s springtime dress was made from Paula Walton’s dress instructions. It is made from a vintage cotton eyelet skirt and has a bell sleeve variation. In the mid 19th century, when little girls wore dresses like these, mothers and grandmothers seldom used patterns to cut out the clothing. Learning how to cut and sew garments was part of a girl’s education on housekeeping. This dress is made entirely from strips of fabric with no pattern. It was typical for the skirt to have one or two growth tucks sewn in, to be let out for length as the girl grew. Because of the position of the lace panel in this skirt, I did not add growth tucks to Ruby’s white dress. I don’t think she will have a growth spurt soon. 🙂

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Notice the similarities and differences between my white bonnet and Paula Walton’s calico one.

 

Bonnets for girls and women can be found with many subtle variations, as well, and my guess is that they were also usually made without  patterns. I “made up” Ruby’s little white bonnet as I went. I measured the eyelet fabric across her little head for the right fit, then layered it with more fabric and quilted it. I wanted more fullness at the top of the crown, so I measured and cut a balloon shape accordingly. Then I added the ruffle all around, bound the seams, and added ties. The full crown and narrow back give my bonnet a kind of a Dutch silhouette. I think it is charming! And I am so satisfied with the results of “just making it up!”

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This antique child’s bonnet from my collection has rows of tiny tucks to stiffen the brim. The crown is not gathered very full. It has ties to gather in the fullness in the back, and another set of ties inside the brim for under the chin. It also has a long shawl edging to keep the sun off of shoulders.

Actually, having the opportunity to handle and inspect antique bonnets, or doll bonnets, is helpful, if not downright necessary to the “making it up” process. I could see how Paula attached the crown to the brim on the little antique calico bonnet that she made for Ruby, even though I made my crown quite different from hers.

Folkwear patterns made a useful one-piece pattern for a slat brim prairie sunbonnet that comes with the girl’s prairie dress pattern. I reduced this pattern to make a bonnet for a prairie dress outfit for a My Twinn doll.

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This informational handout came from the End of the Oregon Trail museum in Oregon City.

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One year old Brighde wears a prairie style white bonnet with the brim folded back. South Dakota, 1999

Viewing old photos is useful for learning what styles were worn when. As you can see, even turn-of-the-twenty-first century little girls wore sunbonnets. Well, at least in MY family, they did! I have two cherished antique family photos with white bonnets in my collection as well:

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This circa 1928 photo is of my dad, Quinton, in a straw hat, and his cousin, Margaret, in a white bonnet, near Little Rock, Arkansas. Notice the shadow silhouette of the brimmed head of the photographer in the foreground!

The bonnet in this circa 1928 photo, above, has a short double or triple ruffled brim with the crown gathered into the center back of the bonnet. It reminds me of Kate Greenway style.

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This circa 1933 photo is of my Aunt Darlene and Aunt Lila on my Grandpa Carl’s farm in Nebraska.

Above, the toddler, Darlene’s, bonnet has a tall upright ruffle, while the baby, Lila’s, bonnet fits her head closely with a narrow ruffle.

So now you know–you CAN sew a sunbonnet without a pattern. Just make it up! Try it with some fabric that is not too valuable, and that you have plenty of to cut new pieces if something doesn’t work quite right. Then, take pride in your creative efforts, and enjoy the sunshine with your new “old” bonnet!