Monday, December 17, 2012

Skating in a Winter Wonderland

Lettie and Polly in a Winter Wonderland

Some of the best loved scenes from Victorian ephemera, are those of rosy cheeked young girls skating on frozen ponds, dainty hands tucked warmly into huge fur muffs, their lovely curls falling on elegant fur collars.  While creating these costumes,those visions of a graceful bygone era would steer my hands as steady as a good ship's captain on a journey to a time and place we only dream of now.

Lettie Lane's Skating Costume
As of this writing, those beautiful costumes are speeding their way to the other side of the country.  It was terribly hard to part with them, and for the next couple of weeks, I will slowly make a second set for my own dolls.  But, once again.  At least I'll know what I'm doing this time, and will be able to anticipate the trouble spots I ran into creating these.

The greatest difficulty was in sandwiching this 1/2" thick, plush sheered beaver fur between cotton velveteen and Shantung silk to make the collar on Polly's coat.  It took an entire day to get this collar made and sewn on.  No amount of basting would prevent the silk from slipping up to the feed dog and doubling into the seam.  It was so difficult that creating a second one at this stage is not something I look forward to.  It was not for lack of patience that this difficulty occurred, but more a feature of three completely different fabrics at war with one another.  And, here again, on both coats, was the tedious effort of covering button covers with velveteen.  The fabric is simply too thick to make normal covered buttons with the Dritz button cover kits.  But, I have a process down now, that works, so when I begin, I do them all at once a keep a rhythm going.

A Back View
Gloves and elastic loops for the muff.
I recall sitting in front of this luxurious piece of high quality, pure white cotton velveteen that came all the way from Britex in San Francisco.  I kept petting it, is was so soft!  And, the last thing I wanted to do was cut into it.  Yet, I took a deep breath, trusting my mock up pattern and began to snip away.  I will also say that finding pure white quality faux fur for these costumes was another frustration.  Bless Fabric Depot in Oregon for carrying this wonderful fur!  I didn't care how much it cost a yard, as long as it was worthy of the velveteen!  And, it was.

A Victorian Portrait
I am tired.  To create and finish these, I literally worked endless hours (sometimes waking at night and working from 1am til 3am),  while still trying to maintain some integrity in the upkeep of family and my little hole in the wall.  I know that in the future, I simply must begin seasonal costumes two months well in advance.  These few remaining days of the year must be spent in gentle and quiet pursuits. Christmas is upon us.  For me, it is a soft time of year spent in reflection.  The evenings by the fireside watching my Christmas tree sparkle.  A cup of peppermint cocoa between my paws.

Polly Pratt's Christmas Caller
The New Year will see a new dolly to be sewn for.  And still, there will be beautiful costuming done for Lettie Lane and Polly Pratt.  For now, it is time for me to hibernate, finish this year's projects, tidy the place up a bit, listen to birds of winter, and watch earth around me sparkle in silver.

Comfort and Joy!

Miss E. Mouse   

Painted Basket of Pointsettias

Little covered buttons on the cuffs.

Polly carries a tiny hand-made tree.

The Snow Queen

1 comment:

  1. They are an absolute triumph!! A credit to your artistry, and your determination. You should be truly proud of such an achievement, the recipient is very lucky to have in her hands such delightful couture.