And More Work in Progress… Historical Poppets & Hip-Hop

So, I confess that when I started this new schedule I thought it would be easier to keep up with, but these different types of posts have different types of requirements. I suppose, I am slowly learning what I like and don’t like about posting.

This Friday, we have some progress images from some of the paper doll sets I prepped earlier this week. I inked five pages from my sketchbook on Wenesday, added tabs to five, erased all the pencil work and then scanned.

All this and I now have 12 more paper doll sets in progress. Here are three of them:

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Back when I was setting up my massive paper doll index, I realized that I really didn’t have any Edwardian era paper dolls (one has one outfit, technically). Strictly, the Edwardian era is the Reign of King Edward the 7th, or 1901-1910. However, it is not at all uncommon to extend the era to 1914 which is the beginning of World War 1, as it was such a major social change, or to back date it to the 1890s when Queen Victoria’s influence on society was on the wane.

Anyway, the point is that, if you measure the era by 1901-1910, I didn’t have a single paper doll which applied. Shocking, but true, so I drew these dresses based on designs from a 1908 Macy’s catalog for the Poppet series. Part of why I don’t like this era is that I am not a huge fan of the pigeon breast look which so central to the period.

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In another dabble into historical children’s clothing for the Poppets, here is a set of dressed from the 1860s. These are from the early 1860s and are slightly higher waisted. I’ve also included pantaloons, shoes and hats. The accessories are meant to go with the two dresses.

As you may recall, I have dabbled in the 1869 before, but that era is practically the early 1870s anyway. These are early 1860s dresses before the whole bustle thing.

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In a totally different theme, here is my foray into hip-hop fashion. The list of major hip-hop stars with fashion lines is astronomical, so it makes senses to create something in this vein. I confess to not knowing much about hip-hop fashion, but I have been doing my research and I am excited to post this first page of what will be a few pages. I have two more pages to finish.

And that is the little preview of what I’ve been working on all week!

Which sets are you guys looking forward too?

A 1300s Fashion Paper Doll

1300s-historical-paper-doll-logo Once again, we are dabbling in the 1300s with today’s paper doll. There’s no new sources for this one, so if you want to know what I referenced, than I would recommend returning to my last paper doll of the 1300s with a sources list at the bottom.

One of my goals for 2016 was to draw ten historical paper dolls. I confess I am far from achieving that goal and we’re halfway though the year (nearly), so I seriously need to get my act together on this one. So, my goal for the next few days is to buckle down and get some drawing, scanning and finishing done.

We’ll see how that goes.

I have a few days off work and I always start these things with a long list of “goals”, but I fear my plans are often larger than my capacity. Still, I’m out of backlog and nothing is as good as an artist motivation as desperation.

A 1300s fashion paper doll coloring page with a five piece wardrobe. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Picking out colors wasn’t very hard, since I seem to always come back to the same ones when it comes to the 1300s. I blame it on medieval manuscripts I have seen. I always think of the 14th century was being red and blue and gold.

Sterotypical, perhaps, but none the less. There we are.

A 1300s fashion paper doll with a five piece wardrobe. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Between my new 1300s Buxom and Bodacious paper doll, my viking paper doll, and my Cranach paper doll, we’re starting to get a pretty nice set of early Western Fashions. I keep promising myself I’ll do one from a decade of the 19th century, but I can’t pick one. So, 19th century B&B series suggestions would be welcomed.

Lastly, I hope everyone has a delightful week.

Poppet’s in Spring Time

logo-poppet-spring-playtime So, I wasn’t going to post this today. I was going to post it later, but then I was complaining about how I didn’t know what to write.

And he said, “Do you have anything ready?”

And I said, “Well, I have some poppets, but I said I was only going to post paper dolls on Monday..”

And he said, “Do you really think anyone will mind an extra paper doll?”

And I was like, “You make a good point, honey.”

And here we are.

So, it’s not a Monday, but here’s a paper doll anyway!

A colorful set of paper doll clothing for the Poppets! A dress, blouse, shoes, pants and a skirt, plus some fun toys. Free to print from paperthinprsonas.com. A colorful set of paper doll clothing for the Poppets! A dress, blouse, shoes, pants and a skirt, plus some fun toys in black and white. Free to print and color from paperthinprsonas.com.

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These outfit pieces are in the same color scheme as Paradisea and Petal, so they cam mix and match with those girls wardrobes. The toys in this set are all based on two designs from Abby Glassenberg and are used with her permission.

I am somewhat embarassed to admit that I think I drafted this set at least a year ago. Possibly 2 years… either way, its finally up now. 🙂

Sometimes I am slow on these things. Don’t judge me!

I am hoping beyond hope that I can get out my sewing machine, but I’ll need to do some cutting first, so I don’t know if I am ready to sew. The truth is that very little sewing is actually “sewing” and a lot is “prepping”.

But this time I am going to make something I can post here in progress rather than have to wait until it is done.

Anyone else have fun plans for the weekend? Or want to say what they think about the paper doll? Drop me a comment.

A Lady’s 1912 Fashions: What a Fashionable & Practical Bride Wore

I have always been obsessed with the idea of trousseaux, as anyone who has read this post or this post or this post can attest.

While skimming through the 1912 issue of Good Housekeeping on my lunch break, I found this wonderful fully illustrated article on the 1912 trousseau. While I tried to capture photos with my iphone, I quickly realized that the quality of the images was much poorer than what I could download from HathiTrust, so I went with Hathi’s images. If you want to read the whole article in context, you can in the 1912 May issue of Good Housekeeping.

Good Housekeeping was founded in 1885 and was aimed at affluent housewives. It was not the very high-class Vogue magazine, founded in 1892, and was more inline with the other magazines founded by pattern companies such as Woman’s Home Companion and Lady’s Home Journal. Along with articles about fashion, Good Housekeeping published works about health, housekeeping, and budgeting. It also published short fiction pieces.

Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. image
Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. The Bridal party which includes the flower girl, bride, bridesmaid and the mother of the bride in 1912 fashions. Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. Three different suits are illustrated and described.
Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. Lingerie gowns described and illustrated from Good Housekeeping.
Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. Blouses from 1912. Her Wardrobe Article by Carolyn Trowbridge Radnor-Lewis about a bridal trousseau in 1912. Accessories from 1912.
Most of my trousseau knowledge comes from the 19th century when young women were advised by an etiquette manual to have two years worth of undergarments and one years worth of dresses before getting married. In 1912, however, ladies were advised to only put aside dresses for the next season as fashions were apt to change.

In total, the trousseau outlined here includes nine dresses (not including the wedding dress), six blouses and a variety of accessories. It is hard to tell from the text, if the gowns are “examples” of the styles recommended, rather than the entire list. Unlike today when a wedding gown is generally worn only for the occasion, I have yet to find a magazine in the 19th or the early 20th century which does not suggest choosing a wedding dress that can be adapted to be worn later.

Now, I confess, I am itching to illustrate one of these for a paper doll!

A Woodland Mage

woodland-mage-logoIt’s Monday! And that means a new printable paper doll!

I previewed this set last Wednesday. As I said before, this paper doll was inspired by the idea of woodlands, fauns and spirits of the forest. I wanted to create something that felt layered and collected, rather than planned or purchased.

When I designed these pieces, I was thinking of autumn. Of course, it’s not autumn here. Summer is officially here in Alabama, which means it was in the 90s today and horrible humid. I have been hot and miserable every-time I go outside. I don’t know who invented air conditioning, but I am so grateful to them.

Today’s woodland paper doll is being modeled by Margot. There’s sixteen pieces with today’s paper doll set which is a lot of mix and match options.

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I went back and forth and back and forth about color options here. I wanted to do a autumn scheme at first with all oranges and browns and yellows, but that looked kinda dull. So, green got tossed in to the mix to add some zest and brightness.

The light browns were based on colors of deer, which I always think as being a big part of the forest. I’ve always loved deer, both as beautiful animals and as tasty chili. (Seriously, venison chili is amazing.)

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Many of my paper dolls are really characters I invent in my head who come from well formed worlds. Today’s is less so. I was thinking maybe a fairy of some type or a druid or perhaps a mage who focuses on woodland magics.

In truth, I don’t really know who this Margot paper doll is, but perhaps you have an idea you’d like to share in the comments?

Paper Doll Principles: Artistic Quality

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One of my early paper dolls with an elaborate background.

Today, I want to talk about Artistic Quality and my belief that paper dolls should be beautiful both before and after they are cut out.

Listen, let’s do something radical for a moment, let’s think about Art.

No, let me say right now that I do not think of myself as an Artist. I just don’t 99% of the time. I am an avid doodler, a lover of paper dolls and someone who likes to draw.

But in that 1% of the time I do slip into that Artistic Head-Space, I realize a few things.

The first is that paper dolls are not fine art. There, I said it.

Now before people get out their pitch forks, let me tell you why.

Art is useless. By definition, a piece of art has only a decorative function. And this is wonderful. Making art is part of what makes us human and we should darn well continue doing it, but paper dolls are toys.

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One of my more recent paper dolls with her custom background and layout.

That means they have a function- to be a plaything. (Remember my first Principle about playability?)

So, I think of paper dolls not as an art form, but more as a craft like sewing or quilting or knitting.

(This is not the place or the time to get into a debate about craft vs art. I will NOT go there, today.)

However, in the 1% of the time when I enter Artist Mode, I do consider two things.

The first is that paper dolls actually exist in two states.

State One is as a flat print object of a doll figure and her clothes. Sometimes, as a booklet, but often just as a flat sheet.

State Two is when the pieces have been cut out and then the paper doll can be fully realized as a toy.

If a paper doll is art, it is when it is in State One- flat sheet mode, before it has been cut.

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Sometimes I use the same backgrounds on all the paper dolls in a series for coherence.

So, when the paper doll is just a sheet it needs to be attractive, just as it needs to be attractive when it is cut out.

The point I am making here is this- Layout and Format Matter!

The backgrounds I put on my paper dolls are there, because I think it makes for a more attractive work before it is cut out.

Now none of this matters if you are just creating for you, but once you start putting your work into the world, you have to ask, “Does this look good before it is cut? Does it look good after it is cut?”

So, I charge anyone who is thinking about these issues to go look at their favorite paper dolls and notice the layout, notice the time spent thinking about spacing, about placement, about clarity. These things are all important.

It’s not just about the doll and her clothes, it is about the whole experience.

Thoughts? Comments? Let me know 🙂

Work in Progress…

Just a quick, Works in Progress post today.

I have a whole list of paper dolls I am trying to get finished. Some are destined for the blog and some I hope to put up for sale eventually, once I get my act together.

First up we have one of the Sprites. She’s a mermaid, but a modern one. I liked the idea of a modern mermaid girl with some contemporary beach clothing along with her tail. Plus any excuse to draw an aqua-blue afro.

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My little mermaid paper doll in progress.

One of the requests from my Patrons (Join if you wanna) was to create some more fantasy gowns for the Ms. Mannequin series. So, here are some! I actually drew these back in December, but just now have gotten around to posting any pictures of them. I am still coloring. I haven’t really settled on a color scheme for these, so it’s been a struggle.

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Some fantasy gowns for the Ms. Mannequin series.

Third up is another Patron request which was “Woodland”. So, here’s my woodland fairy/fantasy set that I have been working on. I am thinking a green and autummal color scheme with lots of browns, greens, oranges, yellows and rusts.

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A woodland paper doll set for one of the Marisole Monday & Friend’s paper dolls.

And that’s what I’ve been working on!

Along with all this, I am also working on a series of videos about drawing paper dolls and am looking for questions about my process so I can answer them. I’ve gotten a great one so far, so anymore would be appreciated. Just leave them in the comments!

(Or anything else you want in the comments. I’m flexible.)

An 1830s Historical Paper Doll Coloring Page Featuring Greta

1830s-greta-logo The 1830s is an era of Western fashion that I have generally found mystifying. Poke bonnets, giant sleeves, caplets are all features of this era of historical dress and none of them have ever really appealed that deeply.

And yet, I am nothing if not someone who like to learn about stuff and sometimes I try to challenge myself. I want to embrace periods of fashion that I don’t really like all that much and so I found myself deciding that this year, I was going to try out the Romantic period.

I would, I told myself, draw a paper doll with 1830s fashions and I would enjoy it!

(Or at least not totally hate it.)

The 1830s are an interesting time fashion wise though. The introduction of the metal eyelet in 1828 means that the 1830s are the first era when corsets were really capable of being laced terribly tightly (metal eyelets can take a lot more stress than handsewn ones) and to make matters more interesting, vulcanized rubber was used in clothing as well for the first time in the 1830s. Innovations all around.

The cage carioline which was used to support skirts in the 1860s doesn’t exist yet, so skirts are held out with horse hair petticoats and horsehair sewn in the hems. That means the silhouette isn’t as full as it would become in a few decades.

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All right, so Greta, the paper doll modeling these 1830s outfits has a full set of underwear from this era which includes a chemise, corset, petticoat and sleeve supports. In order to fill out huge leg-o-mutton sleeves of the era, women used a variety of sleeve supports of various sizes. I made hers small so the underwear could easily layer.

She has two dresses. A day dress based on this garment and a ballgown. I swear the ballgown is based on something, but try as I might, I just couldn’t find the reference image I used. So… Trust me? Greta also had a poke bonnet and some false hair styled in the Apollo Knot style.

Women in the 1830s went a little nuts in the hair department. See this fashion plate and you know what I mean.

I hope everyone enjoys this little foray into the 1830s. This is an era I should stick around with? Drop me a comment and let me know!

Also, I am looking for questions to answer in a video about inking paper dolls. So, if you have a question that you’ve always wanted answered, put it in the comments. 🙂

Female Proportions for Drawing

I used photos from SenshiStock to illustrate this post. Specifically, I used Sailor Sakky Walking Stock, because it was a neutral pose.

Back when I started drawing, I was taught proportion using the “heads” method. This is because we tend to think heads are larger than they are, so this method using the head as the basis of measurement and keeps them from getting huge. (Says the girl who draws lots of HUGE heads.)

The “Heads Method”

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In the “Heads Method” The average female figure is 7 heads or 7.5 heads tall. The .5 head accommodates the length of the foot. Some people go with eight heads, which gives you a longer leaner figure. Fashion illustration often uses nine heads with the extra head usually put into the length of the legs.

The width of the shoulders is usually 2 to 2.5 heads. The hips at their widest point measure 2 heads and the waist usually measures 1 to 1.5 heads.

Now, let me be clear: No one in the real world has perfect proportions, but these numbers can act as guides for when you’re working on a figure.

But wait, you’re thinking, your paper dolls have HUGE heads. How do I manage that?

Ratios, baby. Ratios.

I actually prefer to think in ratios. I find it easier than thinking in heads.

The “Ratio Method”

ratios-proportions

In the “ratio” method, the body is broken into parts and they are measured based on the size of other parts.

For example, the distance from the top of the head to the waist is one third. The distance between the waist and the knees is another third. The distance between the knees and the bottom of the feet is another third. This creates an elongated figure who is nine heads tall.

For a “seven” heads figure, the distance between the top of the head and the crotch is the same as the distance from the waist to the bottom of the foot. (Blue lines above.)

But if you want to ignore the head completely, because you, like me, want to draw people with huge heads, than you can measure from the neck to the crotch is the same distance as from the crotch to the bottom of the foot. (Yellow Lines Above.)

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On the left above is part of the B&B series. As you can see, she had the same distance from the top of her neck to her crotch as she does to the buttom of her foot. In short, she is proportional, ignoring her huge head.

On the right is Monica of the Marisole Monday & Friends Family. Monica is NOT proportional. I wanted to show that NOT ALL my paper dolls have proper proportions.

However, the more I draw, the more I find I like things better when I do pay attention to my ratios.

Questions? Comments? Let me know. 😀

Making Jess Brown Rag Dolls & Their Clothes

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My finished dolls, Claudia (right) and Olivia (left) got to hang out on my chair before I sent them off into the world.

For my birthday last year, my Sister got my a copy of The Making of a Rag Doll by Jess Brown. Jess Brown is an extremely talented and well regarded doll-maker whose work is sold by her own websiteLand of Nod and other high-end stores. While nominally for children, her dolls are highly sophisticated and transcend that market. (You can listen to a great interview with her from the While She Naps Podcast.)

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My original dolls on the left had no noises and their hair was craft felt that I pinned in place. Jess Brown’s book is on the right.

They are also very distinct. Once you see a Jess Brown doll, than you immediately know it is one of her pieces of work and her style has influenced a lot of other doll-makers. I feel like I see “Jess Brown-esque” work all over the handmade doll world.

When I sewed these two dolls from her pattern, I actually had to sew three bodies, because one arm tore off while I was trying to turn it. After stuffing, I did a version of Jess Brown’s distinct star shaped eyes and cut up some felt for hair. My two annoyances at Jess Brown’s book are that there are not really any instructions for hair and that the patterns are printed on green ink on brown paper. I had to take them into work to get a decent copy of them for cutting up.

Anyway, I pinned their hair on and stitching them up some bloomers and then… well, sadly, then they sat in a box for over a year.

Needless to say, I finally got my act together and started working on them in late April after I finished my baby gifts.

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All the fabrics I first selected were based on the dark grey patterned fabric in the center. I did not end up using all these fabrics.

I pulled out my fabrics, sorted through my stash, and put together a collection of fabrics I liked for a wardrobe. I based my selections off this wonderful grey floral fabric from Cloud9 that I found at Joanne’s (the only place locally that carries Cloud9, sadly). I added fabrics to the collection as I realized I didn’t have enough of some of these to make a whole dress and had to adapt to my smaller amounts. (The book said that a 1/4 yard cut was enough to make a dress, but I found it was JUST shy of the pattern if you were following grain lines.)

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The whole wardrobe of dolls was based around the grey floral fabric. Each doll also got two bags.

I don’t remember what my original plan was (it has been a year), but my “new” plan was to make the dolls three or four dresses, two or three pinafores, at least one coat, a second pair of fancier pantaloons with lace trim, and some bags. I discovered how much I loved applying ric-rac to basically everything and happily applied it to the red bag above in two stripes.

Most of the clothing patterns in the book are not hemmed, but rather use stay-stitching. I have written a poem about how I feel about exposed stay stitching:

I do not like stay stitching, Sam-I Am. 
I do not like it in a box. I do not like it on a fox.
I do not like it on my doll. I do not like it at all.
I do not like how it looks. I do not think it belongs in books.
I do not like it on a dress. I think it is a mess.

Thank you.

But all joking and poetry aside, what I respect about Jess Brown, and all my favorite dollmakers/soft toy designers, is that there is no doubt that her work is her work. From sewing her dolls with dark thread that shows when they are stuffed to visible stay stitching, Jess Brown has a distinct style. All of her choices are specific. I do not believe Jess Brown uses stay stitching, because she can’t roll a hem. I believe she uses it, because she has made an artistic choice. And I respect that, even if when I made a doll from her patterns, I am going to make a different artistic choice.

That’s the thing about patterns- they are a place to start, not a place to end.

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On the left is Olivia (the blond doll) and on the right is Claudia (the brunette).

I re-stuffed both dolls eventually and made their hair by hand stitching on squares of wool-blend felt. Originally, both dolls were gong to have pigtails, but I actually really liked the short hair look, so I left them off the brunette. Hand stitching the felt hair onto the dolls heads took all one evening while I watched TV. I used DMC floss to match the felt. I wanted the hair to be clearly handmade without looking sloppy.

Jess Brown dolls don’t have noses, but I think dolls need noses.

So, eventually, I gave both my dolls noses using thread. I actually really like the way the noses turned out and I want to try this technique again in the future.

Sewing up the doll clothes was totally addictive. Nearly everything was three pieces or less. No tiny sleeves to set in. No waist bands to attach. Everything was simple and I found, to my surprise, that I loved the simplicity. This surprised me. In paper dolls, I like complexity. I really thrive on tiny details, but while working on these dolls, I found I enjoyed the simple shapes that really let wonderful textile patterns shine.

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Process photos working on the doll’s clothing.

Since the dress pattern was that it was just three pieces, it became a canvas for pockets (on the grey dress), lace trim (the flowed grey dress) and a pleat in the front. The only dress I was frustrated by was the pleated front dress. I struggled to get the bottom curved him to lay flat an the pleat should have been deeper than I made it. Oh well.. You live and you learn.

Each doll got two coats and two pairs of bloomers. The bloomers were a little hard to make, because of the dolls very wide and long hips. The body is triangular and that makes the proportions for pants a trifle odd. Still, my mother taught me all dolls need underwear.

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On the left, you can see some of Jack the Seam Ripper’s handy work. On the right is a button covering a snap.

I didn’t end up using Jack the Seam Ripper a lot, but the curved hems on some of the clothes did give me some trouble. You can see some of my work in the picture above.

One of my favorite tricks is to cover snaps (which I think always look messy when I sew them on) with a button. I bought a big pack of these thin cheap shell buttons. Some were really warped, so I had to shift through them. I tried to pick out buttons that were “old fashioned” without feeling too old fashioned, if that makes any sense.

Part of this process wasn’t just about making two dolls for two people I love. It was also about trying out new things and doing something out of my comfort zone. I wanted to see what would happen if I made a Jess Brown doll, even though I am not a huge Jess Brown doll fan. I wanted to see if I could adapt this style into something I loved.

And I needed to figure out what I loved. What did I like in a cloth doll?

I’m beginning to learn it is very different than what I like in a paper doll. That’s okay though- it is part of the process.

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Claudia with her entire wardrobe was sent off to my Sister.

In the end, each doll ended up with two pairs of bloomers, two coats, four dresses, two bags and three pinafores/aprons. I also made two little necklaces out of some chain and charms. Nothing really fancy, but I thought they needed some extra accessories.

Claudia’s blue dress ( I think of as her “fancy” dress) has an interior facing pleat. She has blue, pink and cream pinafores, along with a red bag with ric-rac and a pink bag trimmed in lace. Otherwise, her wardrobe is identical to her sister, Olivia.

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Olivia with her wardrobe. She was sent to my Mom.

Olivia’s “fancy dress” has an exterior pleat. She has a grey, a pink and a cream pinafore. Her bags are also pink and red, but the red one is made from a different fabric. Otherwise, her wardrobe is identical to Claudia’s wardrobe.

My mother’s reaction to her was to remark that her feet looked very cold without any shoes. So, I recommended she knit her some socks. I don’t knit, but my mother does.

I have to confess, I sort of had to stop myself. I was completely ready to make them even more dresses and even more bags and other things. Still, at some point one has to declare a project “done” and I think 36 outfit combinations is enough. 🙂

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Playing dress up with them before I sent them off to their new homes.

I thought I would close with a few photos of me playing dress up with the girls.

Next doll project is going to be one I can share IN PROGRESS and then I won’t end up with a post this long at the end. So, no surprises for anyone anymore.

Things I still need to work on include being able to backstitch without ending up with a nest of thread (though this stopped somewhat when I sorted out my tension), doll hair attachment and stuffing. Stuffing is something I need to get better at.

Thoughts on my latest creations?