Sunday, August 30, 2015

Doll Chat.

"The little girl who has taken a part in making her doll's wardrobe, and then keeping it up to date, will find that the knowledge she has gained in this way will be invaluable to her in after life. The child who has helped to put together her doll's combinations will have no difficulty in making her own later on, neither will she be perplexed when she in turn has little people to sew for.  ... The next step is for the little girl to see to the household linen and general furnishings of the doll's house." 

---from Victorian Needlework Techniques and Designs

Mary Alice, the formerly bald doll, has found a new home with a friend of mine. I just couldn't warm up to her too-blue, intense features. But I still wanted a doll of my own. Rather than leave it to thrifting fate, I decided to spend a bit more and get exactly what I wanted. Yes, I comparison shopped for my doll, just like Consumer Reports magazine.

Ultimately, I decided on the My Life collection from Wal-Mart. Originally this line was manufactured by Madame Alexander. Now it's not, but they've kept the face much the same, but with a more natural look that I find very sweet. The hair is decent quality and doesn't tangle and mat when played with. The doll is jointed at the neck, shoulders, and hips, but also has a wire armature inside so you can bend the elbows, knees, and waist for more natural postures. Best of all, the body is half vinyl and half cloth, so she doesn't look strange in strappy dresses or tops. And the price? Only $24.99.  Except when I bought mine, she rang up at $13, no explanation, no sales signs, just magic.

She came in this outfit, along with a black patent leather vest and red glasses, meant to portray a "rock singer", but I just like her appearance, and her black maryjanes and grey t-shirt are things that can work with stuff I make.  I had a little toy terrier that seemed to go nicely, so now they're friends.

So please meet Everilda and Scraps. Yes, I said "Everilda" -- it's from an E Nesbit story called The Princess and The Cat. At home she is just "Rilla".

I had some old-fashioned looking print cotton, so I made her a little back-to-school style dress. Yes, those are tiny cartridge pleats at the waist. With her hair loose, I think she looks like a young Mary Tyler Moore.

See the resemblance?
Now to get to the quote up there at the top --talk about burying the lead, huh?  I've been thinking while I sew tiny hems. I bought Rilla from a long aisle of pink boxes, sided by every accessory you could imagine: kitchen sets, bedroom sets, pony stables, boats, campers, hairstyle salons, cupcake bakeries -- it seemed endless.

How far dolls have come from their original purposes! Little girls used to make doll clothes from scraps from mother's sewing bag, and in doing so, they learned and practiced hems, buttonholes, pleats, and other basics.

I got a load of free patterns from American Girl's website, amazingly. I can't believe they're giving away anything these days, much less patterns for 24 outfits and accessories! They work up into beautiful little things quite easily, but it says right at the beginning "The doll dress patterns and instructions in this portfolio are intended for an experienced sewer, not a young girl -- unless she works with and is directed by an experienced sewer."

I hope there are people out there who sit with their children and dolls and show them "This is how we place a pattern...", and "This is why it's important to..." and "Let me show you a trick about that..." because there is so much pleasure in creating things, and it's so powerful to learn I CAN MAKE THIS.


Oh. Sermon over, I guess, but I also wanted to show you my doll case that I worked up. Sometimes I want to take Rilla over to a friend's so we can sew and play, and this makes it easy and tidy. Just a old suitcase that I put cloth-covered foamcore board into. I ran a cord through one side so I can seatbelt Rilla in place -- less rattling around keeps her hair from getting messy. The little bags that came with the suitcase and snap in place were perfect for shoes and small things. I just lay her dresses out and there's a rouched flap that fastens down over each side to hold things in place when I close it up. Best part: the suitcase was free, just hanging around in the attic.

Now go make stuff with a kid! Go on! Shoo!

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