Has it truly been a month since my last Hope Chest post??? Golly, time flies! Oh, yes, that’s me above in all my makeup-less glory. 😀 But today I’m here to talk about the little cloth dollies I’m holding in my arms. These, my dears are the companions that I told you about in my first Hope Chest Post, and I alluded to in my Memorabilia post. If you didn’t know, before I started sewing clothes, I was an avid doll-maker. My sisters and I would make everything from pipe-cleaner dolls with wooden bead heads, to clay doll-house dolls, to, my specialty, cloth dolls. And today, I am going to share with you a small portion of my doll family that I created in years past. Some of them don’t have names anymore, either because I forgot, or they just never were given names. But the ones that I held dearest in my younger years still have names and stories behind them. Let’s meet the “big sisters” of the family first, shall we?
To the left is Florence. She is the first version of my cloth Queen-Anne doll (an idea I repeated and perfected until I finally achieved my goal in the last doll I ever made), and the first doll pattern I drafted myself. Florence actually came from a dream I once had about some Tuck-Comb dolls (I was infatuated with those and Queen Anne dolls for quite some time): Our family was driving in the car going to our favorite park. We girls each had our very own Tuck-Comb doll that stood about 2 feet high. My doll had brown hair and a blue dress. The tragedy was, when we parked the car, my doll fell out and tumbled down a steep, grassy hill. She wasn’t damaged in any way, but I woke up before I could retrieve her from the gully. Ever since that dream I knew I had to try to make that doll, and so Florence came into being! She didn’t turn out quite the way I expected, but she led me on to even greater heights in doll-making, which perhaps I’ll share with you all one day.
Ah! Cassandra! Cassandra was my favorite doll that I ever made. She is just a simple rag doll, but she had such a gentle, quiet character to her, that she immediately became the “head of the doll family” when the last stroke of the paint-brush landed on her face. The pattern for Cassie came from a doll-book (Cloth Dolls: How to Make Them by Miriam Gourley) I found at the library just before we moved to Ohio. I brought the book home, copied the pattern, and stitched up Cassie during the turbulent time of moving. I can still remember Jessica re-doing the eyes for me (it was my first time painting a face!), and Cassandra sitting on top of the washer in the month of March, while I waited for her to dry.
Next up! These were some dolls I made towards the end of my “play-time” years, so they have more artistry and time put into them, but unfortunately less memories. The felt doll on the left was made as a sample for a doll-making class I taught some younger girls in our circle. The pattern is a free one from PurlBee. She doesn’t have a name, unfortunately, but she is quite a dear, don’t you think?
In the middle is mini Brigi. Towards the end of my doll-making years I started to get into needle-sculpting the faces, and Brigi is one of those dolls. She was made from cotton jersey, and I painted the face myself 😀 . The pattern for her came from a British doll-making book (Cloth Dolls by Brenda Brightmore) Mom and Dad got me for my birthday one year. Let me tell you, the dolls in that book are so sweet and full of character, sometimes it makes me wish I had time to make dolls again!
Oh yes, my Godey’s Ladies doll. When I started looking more into the history of dolls, it piqued my interest about the history of clothing. There soon came a time where I was totally in love with the styles of the 1860s. Unfortunately they were a bit too impractical for me to make the clothing for myself, but when Mom and Dad bought me this Godey’s Ladies doll kit, it was the perfect compromise. This buxom lady doesn’t have a name, but she is a funny little dear who’s a bit too stout for her clothes (a bit of a mistake on my part with not paying attention to the seam allowance). But because of her quaintness, she reminds me of the actual dolls from the 1800s. The homemade ones always had odd proportions, but they were still loved and played with, and given pretty dresses to wear. I hope someday this little lady gets her chance at having a name, and a whole trousseau of clothes made for her by little hands. Someday…
The faceless princess on the right is another doll made from the same book as Cassandra. She was originally made for Jessica, but when she didn’t want her anymore, I took her “under my roof” and gave her a home. It’s funny the fascination we girls had for faceless dolls such as those the Amish children play with. We had a whole dollhouse family (the aforementioned pipe-cleaner and wooden bead menagerie) that didn’t have any faces, but they had oh, so much character! They were my absolute FAVORITE dollhouse dolls to play with. They could be sweet, or angry, or spunky, or quiet, whatever your heart desired! But this princess… somehow she just seems blank without a face. Maybe if some little girly wants a face for her in the future, she’ll get one, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Sock dolls! Did any of you ever make or own a sock doll? Mom had the Sock Doll Workshop book, and she made us ever so many delightful little dollies. I remember her working late past our bedtime on a doll, and then when we woke up in the morning, there it would be, sitting by us on our bed. I made Poppy, my sock-doll baby, years after these night-time gifts, when I wanted a simple doll to play with. I still remember going to the store looking for the perfect lacy sock to make her onesie and bonnet from.
The last of my actual “dolls” that I am going to share with you today is perhaps the sweetest of the bunch. Sky is her name, and she is a Waldorf doll. We picked up “Kinder Dolls: A Waldorf Doll-Making Handbook” at the library once, way before I even knew what a Waldorf doll was, or the tradition and detailed handiwork that was put into them. I followed all the instructions to make little Sky, using an old white T-shirt for her body, and some pink jersey from somewhere for her head. I remember following the instructions for forming her head, and thinking how odd they were (they use real wool roving for authentic Waldorf dolls. I didn’t even know what wool roving was at the time, and thought it most curious trying to follow the instructions while using poly-filling). Sky turned out to be a gentle soul, making her deserving of not only her own little dress, undies and red boots (red boots were an honor only Sky ever received), but a jacket and hood of her very own. Sky is probably the simplest of the dolls that I made, but she was loved ever so much, and is still my little favorite to this day.
These last dolls are really just pieces of art that I made when I didn’t have anything else to do with my time. Jessica had doodled (yes, that is Jessica’s doodling!) a face on some jersey, so I cut it out, padded it, and stitched it onto a piece of paper. Then I wrapped a scarf around the face, added some hair and a scrap of lace for a cap, and the Parisian lady on the right was born. On the left was a further attempt at finding a process that worked better for a surface to sew the clothes and head onto, but she didn’t turn out quite as good as the lady on the right. They are sweet dears, and perhaps someday they’ll be hung in a picture frame on a wall in my house.
Did you ever make any dolls?
Do you know about Waldorf dolls?
What was your favorite doll you ever played with?
Brigid, the Middle Sister and Singer