Maud Humphrey

Maud Humphrey

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A New Dress for an Old China Head

Recently, a friend from my doll club asked if I could make a dress for her antique, china head doll.  This is what she wanted me to use:
It appeared to be a vintage baby/toddler dress.  The material was a soft, loosely woven, homespun-type fabric in a delicious shade of peach that beautifully set off the doll's coloring.  I can see why my friend wanted it.  However, once I started on the project, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.  Notice how the dress is sleeveless?  Cute for a baby, but not so appropriate for a late, 1800's style dress.
I placed the dress over the doll, just to get an idea of what I might need to do in order to make it fit.  I knew for sure that it would need sleeves, but how was I going to make those when I didn't have much fabric to work with?  I wanted to leave the bodice as it was, and gather the bottom of it to a waistband, which was a popular dress style for these dolls.  I started by cutting the skirt from the bodice.  Then, I removed the lace from the armhole openings and cut in armhole curves from the bodice.  I discovered that there was quite a deep hem at the bottom of the skirt, so I decided to let it out. (It ended up being 4-5 inches in width)  This still wasn't wide enough from which to cut sleeves, but I could use this extra fabric for the waistband and trim on the sleeves.  Luckily, I ended up finding some cream colored, vintage fabric in my stash that worked perfectly for the sleeves.
After several hours of picking out seams and carefully planning how I was going to make this work, here is what I came up with!  I was pretty proud of myself when it was all said and done.
I realize this photo isn't completely in focus, but it's the only one I took of the detail on the sleeves.  Since I didn't want it to look like the sleeves were an afterthought, I added a strip of the dress fabric and the lace I removed from the armholes.  I think this helps tie the sleeves to the dress.
A closer view of the bodice.  Isn't this doll just gorgeous?  I forgot to measure her, but I think she was around 28" long.  Not sure of her maker, but probably Kestner or ABG.
Back view--the buttons and buttonholes were already there, so all I had to do was add a snap at the waist.
I took this little beauty to my friend today when we met for doll club.  She was thrilled with how it had turned out.  I was sad to see her go, but someday, I hope to own a beautiful china like this, also!


  1. Hi Angela!
    What a wonderful job you did creating this beautiful dress for your friend's lovely china head doll!!! Wow, it turned out stunning! It looks like it could have been her original dress. Thanks so much for giving me a link to your blog. I just love your blog and can't wait to read more!!!

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa! I enjoy reading your blog as well. It's so fun to find others that enjoy dolls as much as we do, isn't it?