Saturday, August 3, 2013

Illustrated in Black and White

Lettie Lane's Golf Outfit
How very long ago it seems that I began this small journey in the realm of designing and costuming dolls.  And, yet, it has truly only been two years almost to the date.  Designing for Lettie and Polly (and a few other little ladies), has brought me great joy.  Being able to bring beautiful images to life has been an ultimate reward that continues to inspire me.

When I learned that I was going to attend this year's UFDC convention, I knew I wanted to share something with the attendees, but what?  My intent was to display a blonde, blue-eyed Polly Pratt dressed in something from Lettie Lane Comes Home for Christmas.  However, when I began to work on the last in the series of sports costumes, the golf outfit from Betty Bonnet's College Sister struck me as something so unique and joyful, that I decided to bring this along instead.  The unique construction of the skirt was something I had not seen before, and perhaps this alone was the base piece that motivated me.

My mind is like a museum of galleries and for each piece, whether it be an accessory, a storybook trunk set, or costuming, resides a bank vault with an intricate locking mechanism that only I have the combination to.  Some galleries belong to the world and are open to the public, while others may inaudibly close with a small whoosh, and will remain closed.  Lettie's Golf Outfit is one of them. 

With proper hair styling.
While I will continue to state that mine is not a competitive spirit, when you share your innermost heart and soul with the world, no matter how naïve or innocent your intention, you take the risk of being overstepped like a rainbow puddle after the rain...and, sometimes a little door closes.  For many artists and designers, their world revolves around the acknowledgement and recognition that comes only with a ribbon. And, they seek this time and again until it loses its meaning. That brief moment in time when their work receives the laurel wreath.  I have found these moments temporary and fleeting (and often embarrassing), for they truly only mean something to the person that receives them.  I can humbly say that there are countless designers far above my qualities and talents, and there always will be.   However, what I attempt to bring to the world is innovation and inspiration combined with a sense of joy and whimsy.  If I succeed only in this, I die a happy mouse.

Betty Bonnet's College Sister
It was strange that there were people who felt the need to give unsolicited feedback into why sweet Lettie was overlooked, and this baffles me.  For every person in this category, each comment was uniquely different, but no one felt the necessity to acknowledge my achievement, or even let me know if they enjoyed what I did.  However, and there must always be one, feedback from the people who matter most to me (those seamstresses I hold in high esteem), I came away with a sense of warmth and purpose.  I had to chuckle a bit at the question of would I, should I do this again.  The answer is no.  Not for the reasons they may think, but because it isn't necessary.  That world belongs to others, not me. 

Intellectually, after compiling the various critiques and statements of "perhaps it was this", only two comments stick with me in their opposing forms.  One was that it could have been the golf clubs - and I'm giggling as I write this.  The other had to do with modern sewing techniques vs. those the Edwardian's would have used, making this outfit a "true Edwardian" outfit.  As you know, I am self taught in my costuming and know zip about French Fashion sewing or any other era.  It is the design of creating the impression of what I see to be my goal.
What interests me more is that I am planning on commissioning a 16" French Fashion doll.  In viewing a little outfit one of the writers of The French Fashion Review had made, her construction was modern, simple, and the jacket lined.  I asked her about this (in context), and she said that their aim was to have fun with sewing for these dolls.  Let's never forget that sewing and designing should be fun!  The advice from my mentor suggested I had no business entering Lettie's costume into competition if I wasn't willing to spend a few years learning "Edwardian sewing techniques and construction".  What I wanted to do was share the costuming, and there was no other way to do it.

Sweet Little Gloves
As mentioned earlier, Lettie's Golf Outfit is the last (I believe) in the sporting costumes.  We have done canoeing, gym, tennis and golf outfits.  While there are scouting, camping and bathing costumes, should I create these, they will hold a category all their own.
Lettie's black and white houndstooth suiting is made from 100% wool, and her blouse and undergarments are of cotton laces and heirloom batistes.  Her jacket, its belt and pockets are lined in a white 100% silk taffeta.  Her hat is Swiss straw, and her bow tie is double-faced silk ribbon.   Lettie's golf bag (like Polly's) was made from goatskin leather, the same hide I used to decorate Daisy's raffia suitcase with.  The little clubs were, of course, purchased. 

The skirt is a circle of, if I recall, thirty-four inches, with hip length kick pleats.  Her blouse has a high neckband with the collar attached to this.  Figuring this out earlier would have been most helpful with the Halloween costume I made for Daisy last year.  Her little golf gloves are made from 100% t-shirt cotton, and to me are the sweetest part of the entire costume.

Finally, in the last stages of dressing Lettie for her travels to D.C., I kept feeling one important thing was missing.  One look I was still trying to achieve.  And so I did her hair up in an Edwardian style roll. 

So what comes next?  I'll begin working in a new direction over the next few months creating the adorable wardrobe and accessories for Katy Curls, a paper doll by Frances Tipton Hunter.  The doll was a collaboration with Candy Anderson, with a modern, porcelain head sculpt on a composition Rosette body making her 14" tall.  Since this trunk collection will eventually be for sale on my website, I will not be journaling the process on it.  However, as written in an earlier post, there is a darling Halloween costume planned for Polly.

Please enjoy the photos of Lettie getting dressed to play golf with Polly!

Miss E. Mouse

Chemise, Knickers, Stockings

Delicate Details

The stand up collar blouse

Hip length kick-pleats

The back

Golf anyone? Ball in hand.

The girls together with real golf balls.

Next: Katy Curls by Frances Tipton Hunter
Polly's Costume for 2013


  1. All your little outfits are adorable. You probably got dinged though on the circular skirt. I think they wore gored skirts back then. But really nice presentation.

  2. Felicidades, una muñeca fantástica y el traje perfecto:_)

  3. I'm a lurker who has nominated you for An Elegant Blogger Award, since so many of your dolls are the epitome of elegance. I absolutely love the era that you sew doll clothes for.

  4. Melissa,
    There are people in the world who love to burst balloons. We who hold you in highest esteem know that you are creative and an artist. I have loved all the outfits you have done and posted here and elsewhere. Little Mouse in a world of critics who cannot do what she does. Informed advice is one thing but just taking stabs at what didn't work is unnecessary. It is why mice scurry home. Please know that we admire your use of your talents. Onward!

  5. AND the sweet little gloves with the "pleats"....precious!

  6. Hello again,
    It has been a while since I manged to see your wonderful blog - Google doesn't see fit to allow me, so I've re-followed on Blogger.

    As always, I'm stunned by the beauty of your designs. It is sad that there are people in the doll world that try to bolster their own ego by telling others that they are doing something that is , in their narrowed and mean-spirited eye, wrong. It has happened to me and to others I know but I have come to realize that they usually behave this way because they feel threatened. They are best ignored and avoided.

    I have a Polly Pratt. She came from Connie but I know you shared in her 'birth.' I love her so and wish to high heaven that I had your skills so that she could have the perfect wardrobe. Please be confident in the fact that we, your real fans, admire your work more than you could imagine.