Sunday, September 07, 2014

As I Promised...

  I love my early china dollys!  Poor little Sarah has been nekkid for so long. When I bought her, she had the most hideous 1950s made dress on, the sight of it made us both ill! I then found this lovely gown, and she liked it very much...but I didn't....
 Well, I did like it.... but it was white! It was stitched beautifully and all original to her period~ then along came a ladye who really wanted it for her dollye, so I gave in and sold it. Even tho it was white, I should have kept it...yep, shouldn't have sold it. But I did, and I have promised I would find Dear Sarah another prettier gown to wear ever since.  There are an absolute plethora of whites available...whites whites whites...but Sarah did not want a plain white dress. So I have been looking and looking, and poor girl was just tired of waiting, so Mamma promised if we didn't find a period gown over her nap this summer, I would make her one
 I have quite a large chunk of the lining of an old quilt made for a 4 poster bed~ its a fabulously thin early block print cotton ...quite a bit earlier than Sarah, but something a girl would have had around in Mamma's scrap bag to make dollye a dress out of. She chose a popular fan front style
 Dress doesn't look bad without the sleeves does it?  Sarah is an oddly rather plump shaped girl~ that's one of the reasons its so hard to find original gowns to fit the early dolls~ their bodies all hand made and proportions unique to themselves~ one cannot just look at the shoulder to hem measure of an old dress and have it fit. Her chest is very broad & full, tiny waist, and not much body at all! Her legs are extremely short with fashion feet
 Her arms are stuffed very firm with horsehair~ so in making sleeves I had to give her something that would slip over them easily without having to have them bend, because they wont! All of my other early dolls of this period still retain their original clothing, and are all wearing the popular pagoda shape, or bell sleeves~ I have to imagine that part of the reason, aside from them being in fashion at the time, was because they were the easiest to get the dolls in and out of.  Little piping at the waist and neck are the only simple embellishments
 Look at those chubby feet! They are so short and broad over the foot I dont think I will ever find her shoes....I thought perhaps she could wear these little red ones I have, but nope, too long, way too long and clumsy looking on her. She will just have to wait a bit longer.....
She is happy to join the girls~ Abby, Sophie and Joy(you can just see her feet there) are getting ready for Pip's birthday today~ nine years old already! The girls are all giggling and trying to remember back when they were just nine years old.....

 Addendum~  Priscilla has asked about Sarah's ugly dress in the comments, so here it is!
 As you can see, it was newly thrown together and did not suit her nature. Priscilla also asked the ages of the girls in the picture~ large girl on the far left is Abbigail Blake,  her(or her owners) actual name inked on her body~ she and Sophie sitting next to her in the green dress are c1840-50 girls. Sarah is a little later in period, 1855-1860~ the mold of her exposed ears is not a common one~ she has no ringletts around the sides or back of her head.
To answer yet another question, yes, textiles were so precious they were used and reused and reused again. I do not, nor have I ever partaken in the cutting  of early clothes or finished textiles (quilts, coverlets, runners, church garb) to use in my doll making. My hands would literally not be able to cut, never. I do run across pieces tho at sales and such, unpicked large hunks are very rare these days. The fabric I bought that I used for Sarah's dress I bought as actual yardage wrapped tight in a sack at the International Quilt Festival in Houston several years wasn't until I unwrapped it after I returned home that I found it was in two large pieces, a right and left, each with cut outs for the post at the foot of the bed. I also found several little snippets of string every here and there, telling me it was indeed once a lining of a tied quilt or coverlet.  Flat yardage I have no problem with cutting~ I can think of no better way to honor the textile itself, and all the hard work and skill that went into its making, than by using it to dress an early dollye


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy seeing the dolls and how they are dresses. did you take a photo of the dress she was wearing when you got her? I would like to see that.
what era are your 3 china heads shown with the hair flat on top of their heads and tucked behind the ears?

a tidbit of info: you said the fabric came from the back of an old quilt....I was antique shopping about 25 years ago and a couple came into the shop who were curators of a museum. they were working on native American dress for the museum. they were looking at the back of early quilts for uncut backing cloth. they mentioned that the back of a quilt was many times uncut and that is their source for creating clothing for life size museum models. they didn't find any that day but I learned something from them that I thought was interesting. so the back of old quilts can be used to sew clothing that would be considered "trade cloth" and also clothing for the settlers moving into the territory and now as you show, doll clothes.
the long life of fabric!

Priscilla miller

Town Common Folk Art Dolls by Penni Sadlon said...

I have been following your work for sometime and I enjoy your creative posts. Your little Dollye looks plenty happy in her new dress. Thank you for posting the progress as well.

Rachael Kinnison said...

Thankyou Ladies~ so happy you enjoyed the post. Priscilla~ I will answer your questions in an addendum to the blog post, there is not enough room here! xoxo rachael

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for the photo and info. yes she looks much better the way you dressed her!