Monday, May 9, 2011


You may think that when a quilt group meets, they quilt. Well, we eat too and when we were sitting at the table, attention went to these dolls sitting on the shelf. I had taken them out for my granddaughter to play with and found they were falling apart. I don't remember how long ago I made them or how old they are now. Maybe one of my daughters will look and comment. (I do know some were still babys because one of the kids bit the nose off the girl doll and it had to be fixed.)The lower arms and legs are carved out of wood and the heads are made of paper mache. The girl doll was made first and her body was made from pigskin. The boy's body was made from deerskin and was first to deteriorate. Neither could take the rigors of play and needed new bodys. Long ago I had bought a piece of peach muslin for that purpose but had not gotten around to making repairs.

I had made my own pattern to make the dolls in the first place and had not saved it. I decided the time had come to get these fixed while we had granddaughters to enjoy them. I began with the boy doll because he had completely fallen apart. You can see beside him the body section. Taking out the stuffing, I traced them to make patterns. I was hoping to get the size about the same so the clothing would still fit.
I dressed him from time to time as I went along to make sure of the length if legs and arms was OK.

After fixing the boy, I was feeling better about taking the girl apart. Now they are both in good repair and waiting for a little girl to play with.

All the clothing was made without patterns and stored in a basket with a button lid. A lot of it needs to be washed. The girl doll is wearing a dress made from fabric I used to make a dress for my eldest daughter so they would match. The night gown for the girl is smocked and the tan striped nightshirt for the boy has a night cap too. There were a number of knit pieces too. The boy's sweater is still in good shape but the vest has moth holes as do many other pieces. The boy has a dress kilt and a tuxedo too. His grey corduroy suit has slit pockets and huge cuffs. Hmmm, when were those cuffs fashionable? The girl has more dresses as she was made first.

These days you can buy Barbie dolls and find a whole selection of clothing on toy store shelves but when I was growing up, your dolls came with only what they were wearing when purchased. I got my first doll on Christmas when I was three. Her name is Alice. She came with a black wig which I didn't like so I played with her very little.

On my fourth birthday she came to my party with a blond wig and can be seen in my arms in frequent pictures from then on. I do not recognize the dress she is wearing in the picture. Probably it is the one she was wearing when she was purchased. It was from this year I began to sew, begging scraps from my mom so that my doll had clothing for every occasion. An interesting note is that the teddy bear my twin brother is holding was intended for me on my first Christmas. There were two and I got the brown one which I still have, dressed in clothing to hide the bare places where his fuzz was loved off.

In those days there were no patterns that I know of for doll clothing. There was the depression and then a war and luxuries were in short supply. If a kid wanted something, you had to figure out how to make it! In many ways I think that was a good life for children. My own children, too, had lots of fun making things and even as adults have kept the creative spirit alive. It is not unusual that during some visit we spend a little time looking over some project one of them is working on and figuring out how to solve some challenge they might be facing.

You have seen the owls. Here is one corner of the doll shelf where Alice sits today. Beside her to the right is "Little Love", my second doll. Both are wearing homemade clothing as are the others. (there are four more shelves ... just like the owls, they tend to gather)

Well, this is a quilting bolg, not a collections blog, and if you look behind the dolls on the sofa, that bit of blue is a quilt I started to make many many years ago for those two dolls. I found it in my fabric box when I was hunting up that peach muslin for fixing the dolls. That was before the days of UFOs. I guess now that the dolls are fixed I'd better finish it up... or maybe get off this computer and get busy on other waiting projects. Strange it is, the things that side-track us!


  1. I love that quilt in the background !!! Must hv taken such a long time to make it !

  2. The doll clothes are so wonderful, not to forget the dolls as well. I had a little stuffed dog when I was a child, but my mother snuck it away and threw it out when it became so worn that the sawdust it was stuffed with was coming out. None of the dolls from my childhood remain, but I have a number of dolls that belonged to my girls, including the Raggedy Anns I made them. One day they will take them likely, but for now my grandkids enjoy them. You should definitely finish the doll's quilt. :)

  3. The boy doll has a kilt? I'm jealous. I have 3 meters of my family tartan and the Folkwear Pattern for kilts in FL. It'll have to wait a bit longer I guess.

  4. Your doll clothing is so detailed and that little sweater is precious. Glad you are repairing the dolls so they can be played with again. BTW congrats on winning a quiltinspiration giveaway.

  5. Julie, the dolls are precious! And, all of those doll clothes! Your granddaughters are going to love these new treasures. Now that I have granddaughters, making them dolls, doll quilts and clothes is on my 'to-do' list. I need to quit getting side tracked! :)

  6. my Grandmother sat up in bed in the nursing home and sewed outfits for Cindy. Not just any clothes but real fashions with hats to match. I have a large bag full. we never realised how many she made until after she dies. Now of course as years went by Barbie grew breasts so none of the clothes fit most available Barbies or Cindy's. However this has set me to thinkng about photographing the collection and putting on my Blog. My Blog is very non-specific which is why it is called "Whatsoever"

  7. I enjoyed this wonderful post and the pictures so much, thank you for sharing it.
    I've herded all my blogs together in one place so please pop over and see me at

  8. It's really odd Julie but I can't remember a doll that I had. I know I did because I remember playing "house" but the dolls weren't memorable I guess. I love that you made all the clothes! blessings, marlene

  9. Hi Julie, I am glad you commented on my autumn leaves at JudysPod as it brought me back here to your blog! I am amazed at all the handwork you do. I wish I could hand sew more, but my hands work better "steering" things thru the sewing machine. These same hands dropped the antique doll my mother had saved for me when I was four years old. The head shattered, not a good day for the doll!

  10. I certainly enjoyed reading about your dolls and their clothing. I'm 72 years old, still love dolls, make dolls, clothes, and quilts now and then. It's always fun to connect with someone who has the same interests. Charlotte