Friday, August 29, 2014

A Matching Travel Suit for Theodore David

A Travel Doll Suit
I have a lovely friend who lives in the picturesque town of Solvang, California.  I had the good fortune once, to come and visit her by way of giving a talk on my, then, miniature work.  I met the fabulous Susan Quinlan and her husband, and was able to spend a short time on some gorgeous coastland in Southern California.  Olivia and I've been friends for many, many years, and she owns some of the very best work I've ever done in doll accessories. 

So when she asked me to make a matching Travel Doll suit for Wendy's recent creation, the 9" Theodore David, Travel Doll's brother, I was most honored.  And, a little awed.  I never really intended to sew for the 9" Lawton dolls, as there are other seamstresses out there who've clearly made their mark among collectors as the "go-to" seamstresses.  So I accepted this commission with great humility and did the best I could to come up with something fabulous for her. 

Travel Doll and Peter Modeling
Travel Doll, one of the most coveted of the 9" Lawtons, came out in 1997 wearing a red coat and hat with silk embroidery, over a delicate white dress with lace and ribbons.  Boneka was sewing for Lawton Doll Company at the time, and did a splendid job on both her outfit and the little red and black travel suitcase she came with.  They even made a tiny matching coat for her Travel Bear.

Years later, I would find myself trying to come up with a fabric match to the coat and a smart little boy's outfit to compliment Boneka's fine couture.  I'd just purchased a small book called English Children's Costume 1775 - 1920, and found a boy's outfit that inspired Theodore David's matching suit.

Bottom Left-hand Corner Inspiration
We talked of a white top, black pants and a red jacket, and all that came to mind was a toreador's costume.  I could not get that image out of my mind, especially since the jackets worn by the 9" boys are generally bolero, or short.  After a spell, I decided to try a vintage black and white striped shirting cotton, pinwhale corduroy pants, and polished dress cotton for the jacket, which would be lined in black like Travel Doll's.

A Smart Little Suit
My first attempt at the shirt was with a collar in the shirting stripes, and that quickly leapt into the wastebasket.  The second attempt, and I was dubious, was with a white collar attached to the stripe.  This seemed to work, and if I recall, many men's dress shirts are even made this way today.  The illustrations in such books leave much to the imagination when selecting fabrics. 

The pants would be knicker style with the banded knee, and this, the top and pants, are sewn together as one piece.  This is the way Lawton's creates their boy costuming, so I follow suit.  The doll is easy to dress this way, and the sleeveless "top" allows for a nice fit under a jacket. 

The Back
The jacket!  Oh, the jacket.  Of all the jackets I have made, I really had a tough time with this one.  It only goes to prove my point that mock-ups are the only way to go.  The final jacket was my third attempt, and the problem was mainly everything.  The sleeves needed to be straight, and the jacket a bit longer.  The patterns I had created for prior boy outfits were all with puffed sleeves.  If you use this sleeve and don't band it, you have a bell sleeve.  Travel Doll's coat has a rather "belled" sleeve, but this would not do for Theodore David.  A little more length to the hemline, a tapered sleeve, and third time's a charm

Then I had to come up with a hat.  I adore the little newsboy caps, and made this six piece crown with visor out of the same corduroy the pants were made from.  This took two tries.  I guess I'm still better hats than jackets.  And, yet, in the end, the little suit was a perfect match to Travel Doll's Boneka outfit.  While I prefer black boots and stockings on the boy, he could easily wear a pair of black and red boots to match his sisters. 

Theodore David was dressed by the Lawton seamstresses in an entirely different color theme.  They chose a brown silk dupioni sailor style and Wendy gave him a travel steamer all his own.  To be honest, I was thrilled by the challenge to make a matching suit since this is how I love to dress my own dolls.  Peter, of Wendy and Peter (Pan), is my model for Theodore David's Travel Suit. 

Presently there is a yard of gold silk on my table and I just finished the jacket pattern for Alice Liddell's fall ensemble.  I realized I needed one more size of double-faced, black silk ribbon for the trim, so I had to order some today.  Hopefully by the time it arrives, I'll be well on my way with this luscious gown.  And, I'm looking forward to making the black velvet toque with the huge white pom-pom.

September has always been travel time for us here.   The weather is perfect, and the shorter days bring cooler temps to the Sierras.  There is just so much I wish to do!  I think I'll let the dolls travel, even if its only in our imaginations.

Miss E. Mouse

Theodore David in his own colors.

Travel Doll - Guild Quarterly 1997 - Left Page

Travel Doll - Guild Quarterly 1997 Right Page

Ready For Travel!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Miss E. Mouse, I absolutely love this boys outfit, everything is just perfect about it! It is a wonderful match for Travel Doll's outfit, it couldn't be any cuter....really!!