Friday, September 6, 2013

France Tipton Hunter's Katy Curls

Katy Curls and Squeezicks, Her Doll
Similar to The Ladies' Home Journal, magazines like Woman's Home Companion featured paper dolls for the young ones in the home.  What a thrill it was when mother opened the latest issue, and inside was a new paper doll to cut out and play with!  Its surprising that intact copies of these magazines still exist, and aren't we lucky?

Dover Publications was one of the first to publish these vintage paper doll collections.  As you can see from the copy of an original, many changes were made to the presentation including deletion of text and rearranging of the clothing and toys.  But, what a treasure the originals were!  You could read all about the clothing and learn the names of the toys.  For your enjoyment, please click on the page of the original Katy Curls to enlarge and read it. 

Not surprisingly, each outfit was a pattern that could be made for a child.  At the bottom of this page reads, "PATTERN No. 4240: Child's Russian Smock Dress and Play Apron (sizes 4, 6, or 8 years), also set of same garments for 12-inch doll.  Price 25 cents.  Address Pattern Department, care of Woman's Home Companion."

The Dover Publication
I was lucky enough last year, while perusing paper dolls on the Internet, to come across a website this woman put together with reproduction copies available of many of the vintage paper dolls going back as far as Polly Pratt.  Her mother collected these magazines over the years, and never threw them out!  Happy days!  And, her daughter then founded a small business to share them with us.  I was able, at the time, to purchase copies of Polly Pratt pages that Dover Publications never published.  She advised me there were more, but that she was having difficulty "getting her mother to let her borrow them" for reprinting. 

The Original From Woman's Home Companion
The Little Busybodies was a new series of paper dolls that Frances Tipton Hunter began illustrating in 1922, and the first issue was Katy Curls in November.  Other characters like Puggy Pam and Jolly Jane would follow - and many more.  With my love of autumn and red haired dollies, how could I not make a Katy Curls?  Artist, Candy Anderson, would help me do this.  She was creating dolls from the Dianna Effner molds and using Bleuette bodies for them.  I asked her to try one on a Rosette body (Rosette is Bleuette's older sister), so that I could have taller doll with a slimmer body.  Katy Curls is the Smiling Jenny mold, and she is 14" tall.

From the Original
In an earlier post I mentioned that I would be creating this as a trunk collection for sale on my website sometime this fall - perhaps November.  But, once I finally found the perfect little wig for her, I fell in love.  This wig is an Angelica in Carrot.  Candy did a beautiful job on her and is a wonderful artist to work with. 

The first thing Katy needed was patterns and fabrics.  I spent many months searching for just the right fabrics, and most of July was spent drafting all of her clothing patterns so that I could just make the outfits up one after another without stopping to draft this one or that.  Wouldn't it have been fun to find the original Woman's Home Companion patterns?!

Katy in the Studio
Once this was done, I began searching for a doll to represent Squeezicks.  What I found in one my drawers, was a tiny German doll I'd made while learning how to make porcelain dolls.  She was probably good-as-it-gets since finding one this size with a composition body is next to impossible.  Squeezicks was the first item I made.  I wigged her with mohair weft, and spent a full week designing her little onsie.  While made with all the details and finishings, it was finally sewn on her at the shoulders since I do not believe she'll need to take a bath anytime soon.

Katy, Squeezicks and Puff
Next I made Katy's under garments.  These consist of a chemise and knickers that are supposed to button together at the waist, sides and front.  I say "supposed to" because I ended up sewing the buttons on for decoration and using snaps under them.  Why?  Because the fabric was so thin and delicate.   Also, while knowing that an iron-on Pellon interfacing would  have helped, these under garments were extremely difficult to design and make.  Most of the two pieces are completely hand sewn, save for French seams at the sides of the chemise, and front/back of the knickers.  After working three days on the knickers, I didn't want to go back and make them again with interfacing just to make sturdy buttonholes.  (Fran Quinn has just mailed me her little brown Oxfords and black Mary Janes.   Fran creates the most beautiful doll shoes imaginable!)

I also spent some of August with the two aprons, but I'll save this creative process for when they've been finished.

A lot of Hand Sewing
Lastly, the fabulous Patty Kascsak made Puff, Katy's cat.  So darling!  Patty can do anything with needle felting.  I have complete confidence in her work, and always get a giggle when I first see her photos.  I enjoy working with her so much.  If you're interested in her work, please write to her at

Before I conclude this posting, I'd like to share some wonderful "finds".  While taking a workshop with Alice Leverette this summer, she shared with the class the kind of scissors she uses, as well as the needles she hand sews with.  Needles?  John James, crewel embroidery size 10.  Sharp and tiny points.  The scissors?  Kai.  OMG!  I purchased the small embroidery scissors  and found them to be so sharp, and they come to the tiniest points for snipping into seams.  So I tried the Kai sheers.  Life with fabric will never be the same!  You can purchase them on  Also, I would like to share one of the sites where I purchase my beautiful heirloom laces.  EmmaRob Laces.  Donna is fabulous to work with, and the laces are gorgeous.  If there's something you don't see, call her up and ask.  She has a store full of laces not listed on her website.  Just sharing some good sources with you!

Oh, and yes.  Squeezicks will get her little wardrobe, too.  At this stage, I'm still vacillating on the perfect fabric choices for the red sweater and plaid skirt.  I've purchased several options, but you never know what you might come across here or there.

Miss E. Mouse

Notations For Patty
Batting the Dangling Yarn

EmmaRob Laces, The bottom one was used on her knickers.

Kai Scissors

1 comment:

  1. All I can say is.......'OH!!!! I want her!'
    She is so cute and a perfect representation of the original drawings. I feel quite deprived as we rarely saw paper dolls in magazines here and don't know about these little ladies until somebody lie you reveals them to me.
    A true cutey with undies like my mother wore.