Thursday, December 19, 2013

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

Daisy's Christmas Outfit
Its Christmas Eve, and snow is lightly falling on the streets below.  Lamplight glow casts shadows among the happy carolers, and the earth is still and joyful.  Bells can be heard ringing from the ladies of the Salvation Army, and chestnuts pop on open fires, while vendors fill paper cups for the passersby. 

There's a party at the Lane home, and Lettie's mother is hosting friends and family for the annual event.  The children gather round the piano and sing with all their heart, while the adults boast the year's proud moments, and praise fine feast Mrs. Lane has laid about the table.

Out in the snow, making small footprints that will soon disappear, Daisy comes a calling from just down the street, bearing gifts and a merry wreath of holly for Mrs. Lane to hang in a special place.  Christmas is here, and there simply is no better time of year!

Daisy Brings a Gift
Daisy's beautiful velveteen Christmas outfit was the inspiration from a German postcard postmarked 1910.  When I saw this image, I knew Daisy would be getting the most beautiful costume yet this year.  It was the last outfit I made, and I just finished it this afternoon.  I spent all of the day yesterday just making the hat, and finished with the buttoned belt in back of the coat this afternoon.  I've never sewn so fast in all my life!   

German Postcard Illustration
Daisy's coat is the fabulous cotton velveteen I purchased at Britex in San Francisco last fall.  Her coat is lined in sateen.  The cuffs and collar are made from exquisite faux fur, which I think they called Sable.  Her skirt is made from one of the nicest plaids I've ever seen.  The weave is true and the plaid is almost an embroidery.  Her little red gloves, not to miss a detail!, are jersey.  Over her shoes she wears cotton velveteen gaitors, or spats.  I think of them as spats since they do not cover more than her shoes.  And, finally her hat is of the same black cotton velveteen piped in the red of her coat.  My goodness what an undertaking this hat was!

On the Snow
Velveteen Gaitors
It began with a buckram base, and hat wire was sewn to the edge.  Over that edge came the red velveteen band, then the black velveteen which is layered atop and underneath.  The crown was lined in a simple black cotton.  What was interesting to me was trying once again to figure out what was going on in the illustration.  I came to the conclusion that a silk bonnet with ruffled edge was beneath the hat, and tied under her chin.  When I realized I hadn't any red silk ribbon, I make the bands myself from the same silk as the bonnet.  This finished the hat with a half bow as well.  Daisy was then ready to venture out to the Lane's home and attend the Christmas Eve party.

At the beginning of the month after I'd finished The Mistletoe Fairy and Holly Sprite, I set out to make my own girls some holiday dresses.  These two dirndl outfits had long been on my mind to make, and it seemed fitting to temper the festivities a tad after such merry costumes.  I had a beautiful evergreen velveteen for Lettie's skirt, and the same cotton sateen I've been using for collars and bonnets, was used for the blouses Polly and Lettie are wearing.

Lettie's Evergreen Dirndl
Lettie's Evergreen Dirndl has bretelles (straps), and lots of tiny mother of pearl buttons.  The blouse alone has six.  The blouse was the more tedious of the pieces, and I taught myself honeycomb smocking for the occasion.  It was not that difficult once I had the markings, but when designing the patterns, you must allow extra room for the gathering, and that can be tricky.  The pockets were fun to do, and they are similar to the ones I made on the Bleuette sunsuit back this summer.  I just drew the pattern a little larger, and lined them in green silk.  Then of  course the pockets had to be set perfectly so her hands could go inside.  I love pockets, myself, and am tickled to see a dolly enjoy them as well.  Weren't they once the place to tuck a tiny mignonette?

Honeycomb Smocking
The skirt band is two pieces to allow the insertion of the straps, and then the skirting below.  It is open in the front, although I'm sure I could have figured a way to close it up just below the band.  Working with velveteen is very trying, and pills to pieces, but the results are always so wonderful...so rich.

Polly's Marzipan Dirndl is made from a cotton sateen.  Marzipan is one of my favorite holiday treats, and is enjoyed widely in European countries.  The pink marzipan pig is both a delight to nibble, but also a sign of good luck in the new year.  This is why you might see little pink pigs on holiday cards.  Polly's pink dirndl just said "marzipan" to me!

Illustration from Betty Bonnet Shops Early
Pockets!
Polly's blouse has a ruffle edged collar and cuffs.  I should have chosen a lighter fabric, which would have produced a better result, but I wished it to match Lettie's blouse in content.

Her skirt, or dirndl, was also interesting to design.  I always have to ask myself what is going on in the illustration.  I've been looking at this one for as long as I can remember now, yet when it came to designing the pattern I really had to pull out the creative machinery.  The obvious is the pintuck pleats, and there is some kind of ribbon being strung through the bib.

Polly's Marzipan Dirndl
Illustration from Polly Pratt's Christmas Caller
What I ended up doing was making the bib, a pinner.  So it "pins" to the blouse as an apron would, but I took some tiny stitches there so it would stay.  I had to practice machine button holes, which took an entire afternoon, and there is still much to learn about the best way to do them.  However for this skirt, four buttonholes were made for the velvet ribbons.  The waisted ribbon is stitched on to the minimal band that is similar to Lettie's, in two pieces, so the bib could be inserted.  The ribbons are knotted in the buttonholes.  I decided the best approach, as to what was going on with the top ribbon, was that it would tie in the back.  This is a most unusual style of skirt, but Polly loves it and has been twirling about in it, all dressed up for Christmas Eve.

Pintucks and Velvet Ribbons
Its that time of year when I've been racing to finish up the year's projects, so as not to bring them into the new. Completing all three of these in the time I did was quite a feat. I'm so pleased that my girls have lovely outfits for the rest of the season, and they're modest enough to wear through January.  And, so I will rest.  Its time to watch some Christmas movies, enjoy the glitter of my tree and do a little dreaming.  After all, we have only six days left until the 25th.

Yes, I will work in my studio from time to time, but there is no rush.  Katy needs a winter coat.  And, I'd still love to make some outfits for the Lawton nine inch dolls.  But, these will come in time.

With some of Grandmothers Gifts
This will be my last post of the year, 2013.  Its been quite a year as I continued to design for Polly and Lettie, began sewing postcard costuming for Daisy, and introduced the adorable Katy Curls.  If I can make any conclusions to the progress I'm making in the creative process of doll costuming, its that its best for me to not overthink, but to follow my instincts and simply jump in.  I have a fairly rich bank of experience with this now, and always look forward to stretching myself, figuring out a new design, and relish the finished product.

So let's begin to fully enjoy the coming holiday celebration, and live, fully, the child within!   I wish you all a peaceful and joyful Christmas.  And, most of all, a Happy New Year!

Love,
Miss E. Mouse








The back of Lettie's dirndl






How I finished the back of Daisy's coat.

A wonderful woven plaid with embroider-like lines.


We Wish You a Merry Christmas...






...and a Happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. Every single post from your blog is sheer joy - and always causes me to be completely amazed. You are a creative genius, no two ways about it - and a major inspiration to the rest of us who dream about accomplishing as much. Daisy's plaid is lovely, as are all the outfits, It is hard to find plaids in perfect scale for our girls. I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with joy, good health and many blessings. I can hardly wait to see what you create in 2014!

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