Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Friday, October 14, 2016

Simplicity 1179 for American Girl Nicki

 This is the third time I've used this Simplicity pattern.  I had already made view F (the coat & hat) and view B (the sailor dress) in the past, and now I decided to tackle view C, the blouse and pleated skirt.
While all these outfits have many pieces, steps, and details, they go together really nicely and make a quality-looking garment...much nicer than anything you could buy commercially, I think!
Nicki wanted to be my model today.  I think the browns and blues work really well with her complexion and hair color.
I used a quilter's cotton in a Civil War print for the skirt.  It has a contrasting waistband and brown, rayon lace at the hemline and shoulder straps.
The pattern went together quite easily AFTER I pressed all those darn pleats!  Marking and ironing seemed to take forever, especially since I had forged ahead without reading the instructions and pleated everything before realizing that I needed to have hemmed and trimmed the skirt FIRST.  Oh, well.  It all worked out in the end.
The blouse is made from a "specialty" cotton I picked up at JoAnn's is sateen with a subtle stripe running through it.  The sleeves are also pleated.  If fastens in the back with buttons.
The blouse bodice has applied lace and a lace collar to give it an "heirloom look.
The skirt opens all the way down the back and closes with snaps.  The straps are permanently sewn to the front with buttons, but attach to the back waistband with snaps.  If I were to make this pattern again, I would permanently attach the back straps as well.  There is no reason to make them detachable, since you don't need to undo the straps in order to get on the skirt.  I wonder why the pattern designer called for this?
I always like to make a hair bow to match.  It attaches to a small hair clip.
I think Nicki looks so pretty in this outfit!
We are currently having very stormy weather in our area, and expect to receive 5-6" of rain over the next few days!  I was able to snap these pictures when the sun came out for a few, brief moments between downpours.  Nicki had to hang onto the tree for support because the wind kept threating to knock her over!
I am off this afternoon to go teach my little sewing pupils how to make this outfit.  I hope to upload more photos later of their creations.  Have a nice afternoon!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ethnic Dolls

Lately, I have been finding sweet, old, ethnic dolls at the thrift stores.  I never thought much about these dolls before, but suddenly I am looking at them with a new appreciation.  Some of them are handmade, and their costumes are quite detailed.  I've been having fun trying to guess which country they might represent.  First up is this dignified lady, whom I believe may be from India: 
She stands about 11" tall and has a stiff, non-jointed cloth body.  It is firmly stuffed and her left foot is attached to a small wooden disc with a metal pin.  Her detailed outfit is made from cotton and silk.  She has black wool hair that is styled in a braid.  I am very intrigued with the metal chain that hangs across her face, as well as the nose ring made from small beads.  Her right eye is faded and painted higher than her other eye, which just makes her more charming to me.  I suppose she is more of a figurine than a doll, but I like her all the same.
Uneven, hand-painted eyes
I love the face on this girl.  Her expression is so sweet and serene.  She also has a stiff cloth body, but her arms are slightly jointed at the shoulders for a little more movement.  Her outfit is silk, her hair is wool, she has hand-painted features.  She also has separately attached cloth breasts and stitched fingers.
She measures 10 1/2", and I think she probably represents China.
Not sure which country this sweetie represents...maybe Germany, Finland, Sweden, or ???  She has a cloth body with jointed arms and legs, allowing her to take a seated position.  I think she's newer than the previous two, since her shoes are molded plastic.  Her costume is mainly cotton and non-removable.  She stands 8" tall.
She has a molded, cloth face with hand-painted features and blonde, (wool?) braids.
This celluloid (possibly early plastic) cutie stands close to 9" tall.  She is jointed at her neck, shoulders and hips.  Her detailed dress is completely removable, closing with metal snaps along the back.  Her cotton bloomers, however, are not.  She also has cotton stockings but has lost her shoes somewhere along the way.  Felt flowers adorn the upper portion of her removable apron. 
I adore her snail braids which wrap around to the back of her head.  No idea which country she represents...any guesses?
This is Neela.  While not a vintage doll, she does represent an Indian girl from 1939.  She is part of the Girls of Many Lands series issued by American Girl back in 2002-2005.  She is 9 1/2", all hard vinyl, jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips.  These dolls had very detailed costumes and originally came with a book which told that character's story.  My Neela was found at Goodwill, so she is missing part of her costume (a sarong?), and a former owner gave her a bad haircut.  That said, I still like her a lot.  These dolls weren't meant to be played with...simply stood on a shelf and admired.  This is where I think American Girl missed the mark.  They could have made them accessories, clothing, room boxes, etc., and I think they would have really appealed to older girls or adult collectors. 
If her face looks at all familiar to you, it is because these dolls were sculpted by Helen Kish!
Another Girls of Many Lands doll:  Spring Pearl from China.  I LOVE this doll.  I purchased her from Ebay after seeing her in person for a lot more money at a local doll show.  Her outfit is super detailed.  She carries a little draw string purse and wears bracelets.
Her character is from 1857.   Isn't her face just gorgeous?  I think there were eight dolls in this series.  I have two others:  Kathleen from 1937 Ireland and Isabel from 1592 England, but I didn't show them here since they aren't "ethnic".  There is always quite an assortment of these dolls to purchase on Ebay at any one given time.  Some are more expensive than others, but they are really quite affordable for the quality.  I have seen them go for as little as $15, depending on the doll.
And last but not least, here is the baby of the group, a 9 1/2" little guy from Japan.  His jointed body is made from papier mache or a light weight composition, and his head may be fashioned from crushed oyster shells.  His finger and toe nails are painted red, and his wig sits at the top of his head.  He has a detailed outfit which wraps around him and can be removed.   Look at those big ears!  His face is too adorable. 
Believe it or not, I only paid 87 cents for him at a local, hole-in-the-wall thrift store!
Excluding the Girls of Many Lands dolls, I believe the rest of these dolls were meant to be souvenirs.  Like I said earlier, I used to pass these dolls by, never giving them a second glance.  But now, I have become strangely intrigued.  What countries do they represent?  When were they made, and by whom?  I can just imagine some poor peasant woman, painstakingly hand-painting the faces of the cloth dolls and sewing their outfits to make a living.  Except for Spring Pearl, I haven't paid more than $2.99 for any of them!  I am now actively seeking out these little gems, and the older the better.  I especially love handmade dolls and the stories their faces seem to tell.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Adventures in Disneyland with Alice, and New Dolls!

This year my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  That deserved some sort of vacation, right?  I mean, we hadn't been away for more than one night from the kids in about 27 years!  So we decided to go to...Disneyland!  This was a big step for me, since I hadn't been on a plane in over 13 years, and flying makes me VERY nervous.  But I conquered my fears for a chance to get away with just my husband to the "happiest place on earth".  And, I'm happy to say, we had a wonderful time.  Of course, I had to take along little Alice for my travel doll, since I wasn't going to have my cute kids around for photo opportunities.
Here she is, sitting on a railing while we were waiting for a parade to begin.
Reclining on the Mark Twain paddle wheel boat.
At first, my dear husband had to look the other way when I would bring Alice out and pose her for pictures, hoping that nobody was watching!  But by day 2, he decided to embrace my "strange" hobby, taking delight in chauffeuring Alice around in his shirt pocket.
What a goofball!  A husband that can make you laugh is the very best kind around.
The view from our caterpillar car, traveling through can you guess which ride?
Alice, of course!
I was thrilled to see that Alice is now a permanent fixture in the "Small World" ride!
A poster of my favorite Disney character in the tunnels you pass through upon entering Disneyland.
Every afternoon we rested our weary bones while enjoying a Dole Whip.  What a delicious treat!  Alice wanted to try it as well.
This is the White Rabbit's door.  It is located right next to the tea cup ride.  Every time we have visited Disneyland, I have taken photos of my kids in front of this door.  Well, now it was my turn!
On our last day in the park, I was thrilled to see a display of Precious Moments dolls dressed as Disney characters in one of the gift shops.  To make it even better, the designer of the dolls, Linda Rick, was also there!  I just had to buy Alice, and she signed her for me.  Linda was so sweet and gracious to pose in a photo with me.
Big Alice meeting Little Alice for the first time.
I had really hoped that I would meet the "real" Alice character while in Disneyland.  However, I didn't hold out much hope since I've rarely seen her before.  Well, as luck would have it, we decided to get an ice cream in one of the shops.  I sat down at a table to hold our seats while my husband went to stand in line for the ice cream.  The minute he walked away, who should walk around the corner but Alice!  I was so sad that I could only watch Alice from a distance and not get my photo taken with her since my husband had walked away.  But just a few seconds later, he returned because the line for ice cream was too long, and before he knew what hit him, I had thrown my camera in his hands and dashed over towards Alice!
I even got Little Alice in the picture!
On our way home:  Since we were sitting in the emergency exit of the plane, we needed to be familiar with the emergency procedures.  Alice took this very seriously.
She got a little bored during the flight and decided to climb the seats for a better view.  Unfortunately, she got stuck between the cracks.
"Is it time to exit yet?" she kept asking.
Hanging from the window, above the clouds.  What a view!
After an uneventful flight, we made it home safe and sound.  And oh, we brought another stowaway home with us:
He was just too cute to leave behind in Disneyland.  My sweet husband could see how much I liked him, and persuaded me to buy him, too.  I think Big Alice was pleased to have a friend along for the trip to their new home.
"Why, Pinocchio, what a big nose you have!" (But I think it's rather cute!)
These cuties are all vinyl and stand about 16" tall.  They have nice quality wigs and well-made, detailed outfits.  While Precious Moments dolls are sold on the web, these Disney versions are only sold in the Disney Parks.  I am so glad that we happened to be there at just the right time which afforded me the opportunity to add these two to my collection.
It's hard to believe that the past 30 years have flown by so quickly.  Here's to 30 more years with my sweetheart!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Liberty Jane Ruched Hoodie Pattern, plus an Upcycled Dress for American Girl Dolls

I've had this pattern for awhile, and finally got around to making it.  It's the "Ruched Hoodie" pattern by Liberty Jane.

Cute, right?  I was particularly intrigued about installing a separating zipper, since I had never done that before.  The pattern calls for a 5" doll-sized zipper which can be purchased over at Liberty Jane's website, but of course, I couldn't wait.  I wanted to make it NOW.  So I headed over to my neighborhood JoAnn's and found they had a fairly decent selection of separating zippers.  The smallest size they carried was a 7", which I figured I could just cut down like a regular zipper.  I went with a white, plastic coil zipper since the metal ones had pull tabs that were just too big and out of scale for a doll outfit.
Here's the finished product.  I am very pleased with how it turned out!  The pattern instructions are very clear concise, and each step is illustrated with a photograph.  While this has more pattern pieces than an average sweater/coat, the instructions were very easy to follow.  From start to finish, this took me less than 2 hours.
I did take extra time with installing the zipper (I even ripped it out once because I wasn't happy with the placement at the bottom of the hoodie), but it turned out better than I expected in the end.  I wish I had a "before" photo, but the material for this hoodie was a thrifted, women's knit shirt in a lovely, soft shade of light green with a beautiful texture.  I picked it up at Value Village once when they were having a 50% off sale on all their clothing.  They have these sales quite frequently, and when they do, I try to stock up on knit clothing items which I can later upcycle into doll outfits.  It's kind of hard to see in the photo, but there's a pretty, floral ribbon which binds the raw seam on the inside of the hood.  I found that to be a very nice touch.
Back view...isn't that ruffle adorable?  The hoodie jacket is self-fabric lined, but the hood is not.
Marie Grace's hair cannot be contained in this hoodie!
Hood up.  This pattern is adorable and a little more "special" than ordinary jacket patterns with all of it's extra details.  I highly recommend it.  You can purchase it as an instant download over at .  If you sign up for Liberty Jane's newsletter, they will send you one of their patterns FREE every Friday.  That is how I got this pattern!
Marie Grace also scored a brand new dress to wear with her new hoodie.  The skirt portion was also thrifted from a teenager's skirt.  It started it's life as this:
I knew when I first saw this skirt that it had the potential to become several, cute doll dresses. 
I used a "fancy cotton" for the bodice, to which I added a couple rows of the skirt ruffle to pull the look together.
The back closes with snaps under decorative buttons.  The skirt also has an attached, cotton lining.
Adorable, right?  This dress was super-simple to put together.  I love the combination of pink and white--so feminine and pretty.
I have been picking up more and more cute clothes at the thrift stores for the express purpose of turning them into something charming for dolls.  Most times, this is the only way I can find nice knits...our local fabric stores don't carry many knits at all, and never in any cute prints or textures.  So if you love to sew, don't overlook thrifted clothes as valuable resources for doll clothing!