A Utility Satchel

Here’s another gift I made this year for Dottie – and she is an adventurer. She has visited many place and enjoys her travels. And every adventurer needs a good utility satchel.

Lots of goodies in her bag

The satchel was inspired by the contents. I found these a while ago and they are just so cute. There is a compass, a map, a passport and binoculars.

The satchel is lined and also has a functional button. Victorian doll accessories often were true miniatures of full sized items. A satchel is a very handy item for ladies who travel & adventure, read and sew, or like to shop and collect interesting objects during their day.

Ready for adventure!

It is lined with a pretty cotton and has a grosgrain ribbon strap. I’m sure Dottie and her person will have a lot of fun exploring the world with these new useful tools.

To make your own handy satchel, you will need:

Exterior fabric – firm twill up to light upholstery in weight

Lining fabric – a pretty cotton

Grosgrain ribbon – 4-6” of 5/8” wide

A shanked button – 1/4”

Needle & matching thread

Cut both fabrics in a rectangle 3” wide and 6 1/2” long. Fold each piece right sides together to form a square 2 1/2” by 2 1/2”. There should be a 1 1/4” flap. Edit: I wrote this rather quickly, so I apologize it is confusing. Starting with the outer fabric, fold one end right sides together, leaving a 1 1/4” flap. Stitch 1/4” side seams. This should leave you with a 2 1/2” by 2 1/2” square pouch. Repeat with the lining fabric.

Stitch the side seams on both pieces. Turn the exterior piece right side out.

Arrange the lining and exterior right sides together, aligning the open edges of the bag. Beginning at the edge of the flap, stitch down the flap side, across the bag, then back up the other side. Leave the end open for turning.

Turn the lining and then tuck it into the bag. Tuck in the raw edges at the open end of the flap and slip stitch it closed.

Add a buttonhole and button. Stitch the ribbon strap onto the back of the bag. Fill with whatever your dolly needs for her adventures or collects along her way!

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Merry Merry

Some time ago, I was told a story by a friend of an antique doll in her family. She does not have the doll and it seemed she was a bit wistful about it. I determined at that time to make her a doll so she would have her own.

Because she is intended as a Christmas gift, I have dressed her for the holidays. Her sleeves are bishop shaped and have draw string gathers at the wrist. Merry is made from a vintage Shackman kit and stands about 11” tall.

Her accessory is the sweet embroidery that I showed you recently. While I have been calling her Merry my friend of course can change her name as she sees fit.

A tiny bit of handwork

Today I will share a miniature bit of handwork I created. First, disclaimer, I am not the best at embroidery. However I liked the idea of giving my dolls an “activity” to work. Ok even more so I was inspired by the multitude of Victorian accessories for dolls and handwork was just one. This particular project is a gift but I will surely make one for my own dolls.

So to make this project, I found the miniature embroidery hoops on Amazon, but you can find them on Etsy as well. I bought a pack of assorted sizes & shapes with the idea I could make other interesting things.

Next challenge is the size of the work. It’s TINY! Yes I used the magnifying glass to make this work haha. First I sketched out the design on paper to work out how it would look. Many Victorian greeting cards include the word Pax (meaning peace) and because it’s a short word it became a shoe-in here. Christmas bells and holly are also very common images in Victorian greetings. I used a single strand of floss to work the design.

The work space is about 1 inch square. I tried to give the bell some dimension by taking the stitches from the edge to generally the center of the bell, then overlapping them. There’s probably a name for this method in needlework but I don’t know what it is. The stitches for the letters and the holly are about 2-3 threads long. The golden threads were unusual to work with as they don’t lay the same as a non-metallic thread would.

Because the hoop has a solid wooden back I padded the work with a piece of white cotton fabric to keep the wood color from showing through. I used tacky glue to hold down the backing, then again on the edge of the hoop.

Once the glue was in place I added the outer hoop, placed the screw and tightened gently. I don’t want it too tight. I read reviews that tightening too much will break the frame.

I hope you enjoy this little project and that it inspires you to create a little activity for your dolly friends, too.

A Fancy Apron

I had this lone 2” section of a Swiss embroidered edge left from another project and didn’t want to waste it. After considering many ideas, I decided to make it into a pocket on a fancy apron.

The very lonely Christmas tree

First, I trimmed the top edge so the shape was close to pocket sized. Next, I finished the sides with a rolled & whipped edge. I folded the top down 1/8” and then again at 1/2”. To pretty it up I added these gold beads as ornaments.

Golden baubles

To make the apron I used fine white cotton lawn cut 8” X 5” and also a grosgrain ribbon waistband 24” long. I decided to finish the three edges of the apron with red thread to make it more festive. Finally I then placed the pocket making sure the leave the top open. I did a very small whip stitch around the edges of the pocket.

Festive pocket

Attach the apron to the waistband, stitch and finish. For a really crisp look, starch the apron. I’m pleased with this little project. It took about two hours to complete and I expect one of my dolls to host a fancy dress party for the Yule season. Ok not really, but that’s a funny idea.

All done!

Follow along: I’m obsessed

This is just one little piece of Caroline’s dressing gown. This is the cuff of her sleeve. It is only 3” wide. I spent at least an hour quilting in that pattern. It’s gorgeous, but yeah, I’m nuts. :-) I sure hope I can duplicate this on the other cuff!

Free handed stitching

Here it is on the sleeve. We are in the home stretch and I will reveal the full dressing gown soon!

Pretty, pretty

Follow Along: I made a boo-boo

Look at these lovely drawers! They are exquisite with the delicate insertion and tiny ticks.

Pretty drawers

Part of making these clothes is of course making mistakes. Grr. These absolutely beautiful drawers don’t fit.

Tiny ticks and lace

Although I measured and used my paper towel muslins, the legs are just a smidge too narrow. The waist is also too small. Rats. The lace separated from the head as I pulled the drawers onto Caroline and I had to go back and resew all the insertion.

While I am waiting for some replacement lace, I’m soldiering on with something else. I decided to make Caroline her own dressing gown in an amazing silk I have in a copper & golden brown plaid with rust silk accents. As we know that Inez’s dressing gown fit a bit big, I’m tailoring the pattern to Caroline and also taking inspiration from a Victorian French drawing.

French Dressing Gown

Stay tuned for the results of this experiment!

Lydia Kidd

In my haunting eBay and learning about vintage dolls, I found many references to kid-bodied dolls. These doll bodies were made with kid leather instead of cloth. Then one day, I saw this artist’s reproduction made with a kid body, for the right price, and I had to have her.

Poor naked Lydia

She came with nothing, completely naked, poor love, and has been standing there in her altogether for quite some time now. You can see how her arms and legs were jointed which is fascinating. I can’t imagine the care and skill that went into making her. She is a bit stout around the thighs and her feet are rather chunky, but we can work with that.

As I was working on Inez, just for kicks I decided to try some of the undergarments on Lydia, fully intending to stop there. As it turns out, the Inez garments were a smidge tight…I made notes in my book and went back to Inez. But Lydia was right there, watching me with a look that said “I am naked as a jaybird, lady!”

I resized the chemise pattern and whipped one together. This one has gathers and white work trim, btw. Back to Inez…!

I made the chemisette and sheer low body dress for Inez, honest. I have a sheer dress made of this same fabric and plan to have Inez wear it the same day I do at our upcoming event. But in the meantime, Lydia is going to wear it. It fits her body better than it does Inez for some reason, but it’s too long for Lydia. You will note that Lydia’s petticoat is a fancy embroidered one. I used the edge of an old dust ruffle for it. It just barely shows through the sheer.

Sheer dress with chemisette

The sleeves are a two piece Bishop sleeve, similar to the sleeve on my sheer dress. Lydia is a bit more endowed in the bust than Inez, which fills out the dress differently. Perhaps I need to make some little “bust pads” for Inez. This was actually a thing back in the day!

This is a temporary dress for Lydia – I always pictured her in light pink with roses. I have the fabric but I haven’t decided on the pattern yet. Come back again soon to find out if I’ve made it yet!

Making a cage crinoline for your doll

For historical costumers, a cage crinoline is a necessity, but you may ask yourself what exactly that is. Modern lingo for this garment is “hoop skirt” which describes a skirt with hoops in it, typically made with plastic bands and sometimes flounced. But for the original cast, a cage crinoline was a modernization of the crinoline petticoat. A crinoline petticoat was a starched cotton underskirt, often times many layers were worn to achieve the desired bell shape to a skirt. In 1856, however, the cage crinoline was patented and allowed women to achieve the shape without all the heavy skirts! They were made with steel bands – not heavy ones – that were strong enough to carry the weight of one or two petticoats on top, plus the skirt of the dress being worn.

And of course, where fashion for people goes, so goes fashion for dolls. There are remaining doll-sized cage crinolines in private collections, and they are of course on a smaller scale and not as robust as human sized garments. They can be used to fill out a skirt for a doll, or simply for the fun of putting a hoop skirt on your dolly.

Looking at how the originals were constructed, I realized this is a simple project I could make and share the instructions here. My doll is an 18″ Yield House Meg doll, but you can adjust these measurements to fit your dolls.

Supplies

I found this trim that is 5/8″ wide, 95% cotton and reminds me of Petersham. It’s a nice woven, flat trim that will do nicely. I’m also using some aluminum jewelry wire here but you can use what is available to you. You want something that is malleable enough to bend into your shape but strong enough to hold the round hoop shape once completed. All told, I spent less than $10 on the supplies.

First you need to do some thinking and measuring. For a Yield House doll, the skirt is made from a 36” length of fabric. This results in a nicely full skirt similar to those worn in the 1860s. Consider how tall your doll is and how full her skirt is. You want the bottom hoop to be less than the full circumference of the outer skirt. I chose to make the bottom hoop 30” around. The top hoop should be wide enough to fit over the hips of your doll. Meg here needed 15” for decent clearance. For the middle bone I split the difference and made it 23”

Once you have your hoop circumferences, measure your wire to that length plus 2-3” overlap. Cut the wires and then twist the ends together.

Twist the ends together

Make all three hoops, then you can measure the tape to cover them exactly. Allow at least 1/2” on either end to turn the raw edges under. Beginning at the joint, fold the tape around the wire to encase it and then whipstitch it closed.

I used quilting thread but any type will do

Once you get to the end, tuck the end under and whip all the way around the joint.

Bring the folds together and stitch

Repeat on the second and third hoop until all three are covered. The next step will be to find the quarters on each hoop and place a small mark. This will ensure the vertical tapes will hang straight. these marks will be covered, don’t worry.

Mark the quarters

Determine the drop of your hoop skirt next. This is the length from the waist to where you want the lowest bone. I chose a 9 1/2” drop so the lowest bone would be near the tops of the doll’s boots. This is about where my life size hoops hang as well. Consider you need 1/2” on either end to tuck under – so add this onto the drop measurement. This gave me a 10 1/2” vertical tapes. Cut 4 of these. Don’t forget to measure the waist of your doll and cut a waistband to that length plus 1”.

The hoops should be equally spaced on your vertical tapes. Don’t forget that you will attach them at the top and the bottom. I measured and pinned the placement for the first and second hoop. The hoops attach at 3”, 6 1/2”, and 10” (the bottom).

Beginning with the lowest hoop, wrap the tape around so the raw edge will be enclosed. Stitch that in place. Repeat at all four quarters.

Enclose the raw edge

Moving to the middle bone, fold the tape over the hoop so you can stitch through the vertical tape, through the hoop covering under that, then out the vertical tape. You aren’t stitching behind the hoop wire, just catching the tape wrapping it. Repeat on all quarters and then move on to the top hoop.

Pin it into place until you stitch it

Once all the hoops are attached to the vertical tapes you are ready to attach the waistband. Turn the ends of the waistband under and stitch so the raw edges are inside. Remember, the waistband is the measure of your doll’s waist plus 1”.

Finished edges

Find the quarters of the waistband, place a small mark, then pin the tapes in place.

Stitch these in a square that will secure the tape and keep the raw edge inside. Once that has been done you can add a hook and eye or thread bar. You are done!

My doll happens to have a modesty petticoat under her new cage crinoline and then a fine starched cotton petticoat over it. I’m making a silk skirt for her next and this should do nicely to help it hold it’s shape.

All told I used less than the full amount of wire I purchased and less than a full spool of the white tape. Had I made the vertical tapes in white I might have used close to the full spool. I hope you found this little article helpful in demystifying the cage crinoline and will feel confident in trying one for yourself!

Supply List

5/8” Petersham or similar woven cotton flat trim (don’t use twill tape as it will ravel)

2 1/2 yards white

1/2 yard red (to make in all white add this to the length above)

Aluminum jewelry wire – 16 gauge – 72”

1 size 1 hook

Needle and thread to match

Ruler or tape measure

Pretty Paula

Today’s doll is one I don’t have to redress. She is quite beautiful and I don’t plan to change a thing about her.

Paula in soft dimity

The dress she wears was described as dimity. I had to look up what that is, because while I have heard of it I don’t think I have ever seen it. According to JoAnnMorgan.com, dimity’s trademark feature is a line in the weave, and a windowpane dimity looks like it has boxes. This pretty dress appears to be of windowpane dimity as you can see the boxes in the weave.

Sheer windowpane and ruffles

The dress is just exquisite. It is sheer and airy, so incredibly fine. The pattern likely is from the 20th century. When Paula emerged from her shipping box, I was thrilled to discover she has a hoop skirt. It’s is a single bone bridal-style hoop, but nonetheless it helps with the shape of her dress. The hoop was completely crunched up, but with some gentle adjustment it went back to a round shape. Her drawers feature some of the tiniest tucks I have ever seen.

Paula’s dress has a bit of a train, or is in an elliptical shape. This shape came into fashion in the second half of the 1860’s, moving more fabric to the back of the skirt. You can also see in this photo the 3/4 sleeves with the repeated three rows of lace trim. The ribbon trim is an 1/8” velvet. It may have originally been a brighter teal color.

Paula in profile

The bodice of the dress features a starched wrap, probably made of batiste. I hesitate to remove the wrap to see the bodice underneath. I am not certain if this wrap piece is considered a bertha or not. A bertha was often part of a ball gown. Take a look at the tiny buttons. They are a teal color. Maybe the are really beads, I’m unsure.

One of the unique features of Paula’s styling is her hair. I don’t know if you will be able to see in these small photos, but she has a braid that goes all round her head and then a cluster of curls on the crown of her head. This is hair styled for a ball.

Another thing that attracted me was the inclusion of a letter from a previous owner of this doll. It was written in 1972 by an unnamed person, and explains the doll was a kit designed by Julia Hoople, and Paula was created by Merry Lane in Florence, Oregon. I think Merry Lane might be a person, but it could also have been a doll boutique. She originally had a yellow bead necklace and a white picture hat decorated with flowers. Those items have been lost to time.

Paula has joined the rest of the gang in my cabinet and I am pleased to include her in my collection. I hope you have enjoyed hearing all about her. See you again soon!

Emma’s got a new dress

I promised you I would show you how I upgraded Emma’s dress from the *lovely* lavender polyester she came with, and I’m keeping my promise. I admit it, I stopped working on her in the middle of the project and did something else. Shock! Teaser: it was another doll, and yes I will tell you all about it in another post, soon, I promise. For now, let’s focus on Emma.

I previously showed you her polyester dress, and that was just not to be allowed. Since Emma is styled as a child or youth, I felt a traditional long dress was not right for her. After consideration, I decided on the 1876 La Mode Illustree dress for a youth doll. This is again a pattern that I had to first translate from French, then trace & size to her. Since we can’t do things the easy way, of course I made her some undergarments.

These undergarments are from an 1875 edition of the same magazine, and at first I was thinking I’d make all the underclothes. Then I realized that the dress I wanted to make wasn’t compatible with the longer petticoat, so I set that aside for the time being. Of note however, like how I made the underbodice look like it opens in the front? But really it opens in the back. I admit, I don’t love the underbodice. I feel like I could have spent more time fitting it to her, but I really just wanted to move on to the dress, so I accepted the less than perfect result I have here.

This petticoat should give you a better idea of where I planned to go with her dress!

Here’s the original drawing of the dress I planned for Emma:

Described as olive faye with pink silk ribbon trim

And, here’s what I created for Emma:

This is a fine cotton in green plaid with pink silk ribbon trims. I found this project to be super fiddly! Making the yards of trim was extremely time consuming, and while beautiful in the finished state, I really hated it about 3/4 of the way through, lol. I also know where my mistakes are, and that is always a killer. We are our own worst critics, after all. But, I am very proud of my ability to draft the patterns, put them together with literally no instructions, and create a lovely dress for my precious doll. I have not yet found a hat quite right for her, and I will likely make a necklace at some point. Perhaps a hoop for play would be cute, but I’m not going searching for one.

Thanks for visiting and reading about Emma. Next time, I will show you something truly exquisite!