Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Delight of Fairy Tales - It Begins with Father Tuck

The Delight of Fairytales - Red Riding Hood
My friend, Jenny Norden, recently asked me how long it took me to make an outfit, a costume.  I wasn't quite sure how to answer this (and I know I've brought up the subject before), but it all depends on how long I've been designing the piece in my head, collecting the proper fabrics, and drafting a pattern.  Then we must take into account that I often have to make something three times before it turns out the way I want it to.  But, for the sake of today's journal, let's just say a least for this Red Riding Hood costume.

Father Tuck's Fairy Land Panorama
Let me begin by introducing Delight to you.  In my quest for finding Lawton dolls that need a reincarnation, I came upon a Wendy Laton Rose In Bloom who was in ghastly distress of a new life.  She was on one of my favorite bodies, the wood body that makes up a 12" doll, and she was missing her original dress, and all of her belongings for that matter.  The seller thought she was rare, and we've heard that before, but when I told her the actual state the doll was in, and how I'd help the doll into a good home, she sold her to me (for a decent price). 

Dressed for a walk in the woods.
It was then that I had to figure out what to do with her.  She had this smile that didn't quite fit the solemn portraits I've been creating, and a friend of mine, Betsy, suggested Gigi.  As in Leslie Caron as Gigi.  I researched the clothing, the subject of the film, and in the end decided that the doll's face was more childlike than a young woman's.  I think I'd been looking, at the time, at Tonner Halloween costumes for my (Re-imagined) Patsy, and found a Red Riding Hood outfit.  I fell in love.  It occurred to me that I'd never done a fairytale doll, or costume, and The Delight of Fairytales was born.  I gave the doll hazel eyes and a dark brown wig, completely changing her look from the blonde, blue-eyed Rose that she was. 

Dress with button attached reticule.
My own delight with fairytales goes way back to childhood.  My mother had the crumbling copies of her mother's childhood Grimm's Fairytale books, and I'd spend hours looking through the strange pen and ink drawings on the thin, browning pages.  My own first fairytale book was a Little Golden Book, Little Red Riding Hood (see below for image).  I read that thing over and over again, marveling at the fabulous illustrations between the covers.  I'm certain I imagined myself as the child on her mission, but I'm also positive I was very skeptical of how the wolf, or even Grandmother, could survive the things they went through.  Yes, the wolf dies in a tragic way, but consuming an entire woman that could resurface intact, is simply amazing!  I'm sure I would tell my mother that this was just not "logical".  But, enough of that.

With the velvet vest.
Delight is a child that has a fabulous imagination, and loves the Grimm Brothers fairytales.  She also loves to play dress up, and I won't disappoint her.  She will be receiving some beautiful fairytale dress-up costumes by some of my favorite illustrators.  Today she is wearing Little Red Riding Hood as illustrated in the Father Tuck Panorama.  With all the possible illustrated costumes to select from (and they are vast), Father Tuck's had the Grimm Brothers German feel to it.

I began with her shoes and socks.  I designed the little brown shoes with the white buttons to have that peasant look about them.  A pair of royal blue stockings finished the first day's work.

Since Delight is the same size as Alice Illustrated, the dress took a simple day to put together.  I used cotton sateen for the aqua dress, and white shirting cotton with tiny satin dots on it for the cuffs and bodice.  The apron is of silver and white striped cotton and hangs a bit below her dress, like an old kitchen towel, as in the illustration.  Her vest is marine blue velvet, and this piece caused me lots of difficulties.  First in that I had to recut the pattern twice for a deeper "neckline", and second because I had to pull lined velvet through a half inch shoulder area.  I almost gave up.  Why velvet?  Why the richness of sateen?  Because she's a Lawton doll and they are very used to elegant fabrics.  White double-sided silk ribbon was laced through the vest.  Both dress and vest close in the back with hooks and thread loops. 

Pointy Hood on Velveteen
Yesterday was the second day of designing the hooded cape.  The hood piece is huge.  It had to be drawn in a way that would allow the hood a point at the top, and enough fullness around the face so that you could gather it.  This cape is of red cotton velveteen, lined in red cotton sateen.

Finally, I had one more piece to make.  The reticule.  I used a small key ring as the base and wrapped it in silk ribbon.  Then I used silk dupioni to make the little round bag.  It is only cosmetic and does not open.  I looped silk ribbon around the ring and knotted it on top, then sewed a small brown button to the bodice of the dress to hook the little bag to.  Hah!  Brilliant.  A bouquet of daisies for Grandmother and a basket of goodies by Lawton Doll Company complete the look.

Delight will be costumed as Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Snow White (no, not Disney Snow White), and possibly other fairytale heroines as time goes on.  She will need a dress up trunk, and I have the perfect Lawton doll trunk for her to store her costumes in.  Suggestions of fairytales would be welcome!

Father Tuck was chosen for Little Red Riding Hood, but will not be used again.  We have untold numbers of illustrators throughout time who've conceived their own versions of these fairytale heroines, and one will speak to me for each story.  I was telling Jenny that working with red made me happy.  Delight has a costume that will take her through the holidays, and Alice Liddell will get her red winter coat in December.  She must.

Please enjoy a sampling of a few of my favorite Red Riding Hood illustrations below.

Miss E. Mouse
My Childhood Book

Johnny Gruelle 1916

Unknown (to me)

Genady Spirin's Little Red Cap

Margaret Tarrnat

Vintage Paper Toy

Trina Schart-Hyman (one of my favorite illustrators, I began collecting her books when I was 16)


(unknown) ...with now-a-days frocks

Carl Larrson

Off to Grandmother's House

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Katy Curls' Red Play Sweater and Cunning Cap - Paper Doll Page Complete

Katy's Red Play Sweater and Cunning Cap
This is an exciting morning for me.  For this is the first time I've completed making all the outfits from a paper doll page!  I began creating for my Frances Tipton Hunter Katy Curls back on September 6, 2013.  I had recently received my precious 14" Katy from the loving workshop of Candy Anderson, and I was ready to jump into a new project. 

The Little Busybodies' Katy Curls was the first in a new series of paper dolls by Tipton Hunter for Woman's Home Companion, launched November 1922.  Katy's outfits were illustrated to introduce patterns a mother could make up for her daughter's wardrobe, purchased through the pattern department of the magazine.  She was given a year round wardrobe to include a Thanksgiving Party costume, a child's Russian Smock Dress, a Best Coat, and a Play Sweater and Cunning Cap you could crochet.

From the Womans' Home Companion, November 1922
Since my Katy came to me sans clothing, I had to begin with the chemise and under pants combination to see she was always dressed properly.  I would ask Fran to make her a pair of brown oxfords, and Patty would make her kitten, Puff, for me.  Her doll, Squeezicks, was one I had made when learning the art of porcelain.  I loved Katy for her impish smile, bright eyes, and soft, curly red hair.  And a little over a year later, she is finally, and happily now wearing the last outfit from the paper doll page.

With A Plaid Skirt and Red Socks
Sometime this past year, I'd collected several plaids to make up her pleated skirt from.  I'd also hunted through the racks at Goodwill and found an extra large women's red sweater to make hers from.  The hold up seamed to be in finding a knit of red, white and green stripes with which to make her cunning cap.  It was in the spring, at Petco, that I found a little doggy's Christmas sweater on the sale rack, and purchased it for the set.  Of course I had Alice Liddell on my mind and several other dolls (giggle), so Katy's last outfit would have to wait.  But, to be honest, the red sweater was giving me doubts.  How was I going to create the white sport stripes on it?  When something plagues me like this, I'll hold off on the entire project until I have it figured out.  I don't make incomplete paper doll designs. 

Stripe Details
I started this a couple of weeks ago with the pleated skirt, and that was a cinch.  I think I've made enough pleated skirts to sink a ship by now.  I made her a pair of red socks to brighten up the entire look of the outfit, then began on the hat. 

I discovered that by using the "cuff" band of the dog sweater that it would create a snug fit around her head, so I attached that to a square of the striped knit.  The top of the hat is stitched together in four seams like a plus sign.  I purchased whole bundles of red, white and green complimentary wool yarns to make her multi-colored pom-poms and braided the ties to swing them from the crown of her cap.  I used a crochet needle to insert one end of the tie through the pom-pom, and then into the center of the plus sign stitch finish.  This produced a "believable" knitted cap for Katy. 

The Cunning Cap
The sweater was going to be another matter altogether with design.  I made several pattern renditions of the sweater, and selected one that would be placed on the fold at the shoulder.  This would give the sweater a clean line and drape off the shoulder nicely resulting in a piece that resembled a crocheted sweated without seams.  Stripes would need to be added and this provided me a pause in the process.  Although I have untold yards of ribbon, the right kind would need to be used to produce a faux crochet effect.  I settled on Petersham Grosgrain (Ribbon Connections), in a bright white.  It took RC a full week to get the ribbon to me even though the California based business is only 50 miles away.  I love their selection, but this company drives me crazy.

And so on Friday the ribbon arrived and I began appliqueing the ribbon onto the sweater to complete the design by Saturday.  The Petersham Grosgrain is flexible and worked beautifully for the curve at the boat-neckline to run down the length of the sleeves.  I almost didn't follow the bottom three bands around to the back, but decided it would be best to do this right.  Adding this ribbon is a lot of work.  A lot of patient sewing.  I'm glad I did though.

Having sweaters in my doll clothing collection from companies like Ruby Red Galleria and Tonner Doll Company, I was able to get a good idea of how they make their knit fabric sweaters open at the back.  A turn under on the left side, and a piece of grosgrain added to the edge of right finishes the edges.  While they typically use snaps (I hate sewing snaps on), I fastened the back with my hooks and tiny thread loops.  This creates a much more snug finish. 
With Squeezicks in Her New Outfit
The hems of the sleeves and bottom were finished by sewing a band of costume stretch knit to them, then hand sewing in the hems on the undersides.  I have to admit that this sweater came out a lot better than I'd hoped.  This was my first time working with sweater knit fabric.  That cap gave me a start, the sweater gave me practice.  Katy is now ready for outdoor play after school, and the colors will take her through the holidays with cheerful brightness.

One more note, I made Squeezicks something to wear besides her onsie.  I have a very difficult time these days sewing for tiny dolls.  My inclination is to sew them as I would a large doll's costume, and you simple must have a different approach.  Finding thin enough fabrics to work with is another grievance.  But, by a lark, I dove into my closet and found an old, worn out knit top that I could cut up for her Russian play set that matches Katy's.  I could probably make a "third" one and do it even better, but I'd like to pretend that Katy made this for Squeezicks and therefore it has a child's simplicity.

The other outfit for Squeezicks may or may not ever be made.  It would require a very super thin cashmere wool in a spring green, and this would be most difficult to find.  Creating the paper doll outfits from the page was the purpose of this journey, and the accessories for Squeezicks were always optional.  But, now Katy can take her doll out on an autumn day and play with her.  

Below are photos from Katy's complete collection.  If asked which one was the most difficult (and they all had their challenges), I would have to say the Best Coat.  If asked which one I most enjoyed making, I'd have to say her Red Sweater and Cunning Cap (with skirt), this last one.  This has been a wonderful experience, and I'll have to contact Candy for another doll in 2015.  The plan is to make Jolly Jane from this line of paper dolls.

Enjoy the set of photos, and look for something wonderfully NEW in my next post.

Miss E. Mouse 

The Little Busybodies Katy Curls
Undies, Squeezicks and Puff

Play Apron for Thanksgiving Party

Russian Smock and Dress
A Variation on Pattern No. 4240

Katy's Best Coat with Bluebird Bag

Red Sweater, Cunning Cap and Squeezicks!