Saturday, February 23, 2013

Heidi Picking Wildflowers

9" Lawton as Heidi Picking Wildflowers
Original Copy of the Book
My first recollection of Heidi was through Shirley Temple's portrayal of the young orphan taken by her guardian, Aunt Dete, to be raised in the Swiss Alps by her grandfather.  Having never read the book, I decided to do an engine search on the story by Swiss author, Johanna Spyri, in 1880.  Of course, I had no idea it was written so long ago, and likewise, had no idea Heidi didn't teach Clara to walk while spending the year at the Sesemann home.  Hollywood!  Perhaps it would have been too harsh a scene to film when the movie was made (starring Shirley Temple), to watch Peter shove Clara's wheelchair down a hill forcing her to learn to walk.  Besides, Shirley always had to play a herione to some degree.  That said, I think I'll have to pick up a copy of the original story and sit down and read it.
 
1950's Heidi Paper Dolls
When my friend asked me to make her new Wendy Lawton Heidi doll a special outfit, I was still quite hesitant to try designing such small costuming.  However, the idea of making something for a Heidi, provided the impetus to take that leap.  And, I'm so glad I did.  I'd been wanting to create for these 9" wood-bodied dolls since I began designing and sewing not so long ago.  Is it easier?  Not on your life!  I do suppose there are seamstresses who opt for less detail in small garments, but that is just not me.  So I approached this costume with the same set of practices I use with the much larger dolls.

A Side View
The first thing was to select a design.  And, where did I look?  To the illustrations in books.  There were many lovely costumes, but most looked very similar with red or brown as the choice of color.  Her Heidi came dressed this way, so I wanted to find something quite different.  When I found this illustration (probably from the 1950's), in yellow, one of my favorite colors, I hoped the choice would be accepted, and it was.  And, wouldn't you know, it was the illustration of a paper doll! 

The Back and the Hat
Little did I know that finding a yellow with black pin dots, much less green!, would be so difficult.  Naturally after purchasing a fabric I thought would work, I still hesistated because it just wasn't quite right.  The dots were spaced too far apart.  After just about giving up, a pin dot yellow with just the right spacing showed up on Ebay as a remnant and I purchased it.  Everything about designing this outfit was a hesitation. 

Other seamstresses may often wonder why it takes me so long to make something, but this is because they select a fabric, cut out a chosen pattern and stitch it up.  I design from the beginning with a pencil, then continue to design each step of the way carefully considering options and trying many before I actually get the look I wish to create.  One of the considerations was that my friend wished the sleeves to be long.  Many Lawton collectors do not like the wooden arms of their dolls to show.  So with this in mind, I had to create a sleeve that would compliment the dress.  Long puffy sleeves in this fabric overwhelmed the tiny doll, so I chose to use the white Swiss Bearissima bastiste.  I would use this to line the dress, as well as make the apron and knickers. 
Hand-sewn Eyelet with 2mm Silk Ribbon

If you recall, I was anticipating trying hand-sewn buttonholes.  My first thought was to make eyelets with the same technique, for lacing the ribbon through the edge of the neckline.  While this would work on a much larger doll, as delicate as the one threaded buttonholes could be, they would have crowded the neckline.

Swiss Edge Lace Knickers
Another issue was the girdle.  At first I thought to make it like Polly's little French witch costume with the apron replacing the paniers, attached to the lower edge of the girdle (sewn between the layers).  For one, the gathering stitch of the apron's edge was too thick to fit nicely and hidden this way.  The second is that the girdle was really quite tiny.  So I opted to sew the apron to the skirt of the dress and only stitch the front lower edges of the girdle to the apron.  By doing this, the outfit is created all in one piece making the dressing of the doll very easy.  This also allows the dress to be displayed nicely since there are no adjustments to be made.

Perhaps this may become a signature, but I could hardly just sell her a dress, when as I designed it, I envisioned an entire ensemble.  This meant the inclusion of a hat, and then the knickers.  The wildflower bouquet was a given, but these two other pieces, I felt, would turn a pretty Swiss frock into a beautiful chapter in Heidi's story.

There will be more outfits made for these 9" dolls.  There is one I promised to make for a Helper Room donation, and I also have some lovely silk dupioni for two others.  Will there be more beyond those?  Let's wait and see.  In the meantime let's celebrate Johanna's timeless classic and envision Heidi's first experience picking wildflowers in the stunning Swiss Alps!

Love,
Miss E. Mouse
 


With Thread Spool For Size

I love this illustration!  Maybe I'll do this next with edelweiss embroidery on the bib.

 

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