Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mow, mow, mow your lawn gently down the slope!

Would you buy a mower from this child?

Sometime back, maybe a month or two ago, I was browsing vintage postcards and discovered advertisment cards with little girls mowing lawns in Victorian dress.  I was tickled with the way the girls were posed to make the chore look like a walk-in-the-park.  The cards were true to Victorian times, very romantically themed and painted beautifully.  I think what followed was my quest to find a miniature lawn mower for Lettie or Polly to push along, and indeed I found one.  It was a little cast iron and wood cylinder mower, and from what I was told, the early thirties.  I just fell in love with the detail and authenticity of the little antique, and got dealer to lower the price for me to $175 when I told her what I was going to do with it.   What followed then was the creation of Lettie's Lawnmower Dress, 
So simple, even a girl can mow!
I used the Ransome's advertisement because it played so nicely into the sports theme clothing I've been creating over the last few months.  As you can see, the young adults are playing tennis while the child tidies up the green for them. 
The first lawnmower was the animal.  Yes.  The sheep, the goats, our herbivore friends, so let's not forget them.  However the first lawn mower invention took place in 1827, by Edwin Budding in Gloucestershire, England.  Budding's mower was designed primarily to cut the lawn on sports grounds and extensive gardens, as a superior alternative to the scythe, and was granted a British patent on August 31, 1830.  Budding and his partner, Ferrabee, were shrewd enough to allow other companies to build copies of their mower under license, the most successful of these being Ransomes of Ipswich which began making mowers as early as 1832.  Now isn't it funny that I would choose to make Lettie's dress from a Ransomes ad?  Perhaps it was the color and style of the child's dress that inspired me, and again, it could have been the sports themed ad, but I'd like to think that Ransomes did a remarkable job on their ad, that one hundred or so years later would inspire a designer to dress a doll from it!
Little Antique Cylinder Mower
Daisy is modeling our little dress for us since Lettie is packed and ready to travel.  I also think her long, blonde curls look a bit more like the child's hair in the illustration.  And, what of the mower?  Why is it not blue?  Its an antique, silly, and you don't mess with antiques.  I will tell you that this little treasure does push along a carpet quite smoothly.  I've not yet tested it on the lawn, and I don't think I will.  We'll just pretend to mow.

Lettie's Lawnmower Dress is a simple cotton frock (did I say simple?), with golden-brown silk accents.  I did a long hard study of the illustration trying to figure out just exactly what was going on in this dress.  The entire bodice is gathered at the neck and at the waist, with a small neck band finishing this ruched look.  The silk band across the chest is machine sewn in at the sides, but hand-sewn top and bottom to the bodice.  Machine sewing this down would not allow the nice, soft ruching you see. 
The Sleeves
Two Layers
The leg o' mutton sleeves are banded with the silk, and a huge sash with large bow, accents the waistline.  The skirt of the dress is two pieces.  One is the top layer that has a hidden hem by including a lining one and half inches up sewn to some very thin Bearisima bastiste.  The bottom layer is an heirloom batiste with the aqua ruffle sewn directly to it.  These two skirts were pinned together at the edge, gathered, then sewn to a strip of waistband that had been sewn to the bodice. 
The straw hat is made from natural Swiss straw with double-sided silk ribbon décor.  What will be added later are a pair of black stockings and a pair of black slip-ons with bows.  I wished to complete this outfit prior to leaving tomorrow for the doll convention, and I'm feeling pretty good with the effort. 
Lettie's Lawnmower Dress is an outfit I truly enjoyed putting together.  She simply could not push the Ransomes mower without it!  I must admit that Daisy looks beautiful in this dress and will wear it for the duration of display.  She truly is a beautiful doll.  If you recall, Daisy, Lettie and Polly were made by the same artist, Connie Zink.
Please enjoy a few of these delightful postcards of lovely little girls showing you just how easy it is to push a mower.  Just don't let the men in your life see these cards!
Off I go!  Wish me luck and Bon Voyage!
Miss E. Mouse 

Even a butterfly can mow!


  1. After looking at this illustration under extreme magnification, I think I would have put the ruffle on top of the skirt, not separately beneath, and added a square brown yoke to the top of the dress instead of the stripe. But she is adorable in her little outfit and the little mower is perfect.

  2. Exquisite, as are all your creations. And what a find with the lawn mower. WOW! This is a full sized Daisy, right? Is she newly made or an antique? I love her wig. You did a great job!