Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sugar Plum On Ice

Mignonette's Sugar Plum On Ice
Its no secret that I love snow.  Cross-country skiing is one of my favorite things to do in winter (snowshoeing, too).  But, skating has always been a part of my life, my dreams.  When I was little, I used to roller skate in winter, and pretend I was ice skating.  As a young woman, I took to the ice by way of an indoor rink, and learned Freestyle Skating.  The feeling of flying with the cold air awakening your senses!  I was so lucky to have lived and visited in the eastern part of our country and Canada, just to feel real ice under skate.  Bumpy?  Yes.  But, real.

A happy, leisurely pastime.
Skating has been around for centuries, even going back to prehistoric times.  The Dutch used skates of wooden platforms with bone runners.  Around 1500, they added the narrow metal blade we would recognize as the skate today.  Skates made entirely from iron were introduced in the 1700s.  Skates were mostly a form of winter transportation until modern times when it came to be enjoyed as a leisurely pastime. 

Fur collar and Rows of Buttons
An American inventor, in 1848, supplied steel clamps which fastened the skate more securely to the shoe, and in the 1860's and early 1870's, famous skater Jackson Haines, made a double steel blade attached permanently to the boot (as well as inventing toe picks for the jumps and spins).  And, this is the era that our precious Mignonette, by Wendy Lawton, takes to the ice.

Peak at the chemise and Detail of Collar.
Back in December of last year, I found a gorgeous New Years postcard of a lady on snowshoes, in a pink and white costume, trimmed in fur, that I put in the hopper for the end of this year's New Years outfit, for Daisy.  Remember Daisy's postcard costumes?  I'd chosen an aqua blue silk affair with a party crown instead.  However, when it came down to days, I'd been really wanting to make Mignonette a pink velveteen coat.  A few days ago I ran across an extra pair of ice skates (in my stash) from the Lawton Emporium, and that did it!  Made up my mind with exactly what to make her. Since Mignonette's antique reproduction trunk wardrobe is all in pink, it would be fun to add a pink velveteen skating costume to it.

The Back
I once again used the basic design style of chemise attached to skirt as an under dress. Using a very soft and petal pink cotton batiste, I fashioned the lined chemise, and lined the entire outfit, skirt and coat, with the same.  You'll recognize the shape of the skirt as that of Alice Liddell and Lettie Lane's winter costuming.  Its just a mini version.  The cotton velveteen I used is the softest, thinnest fabric of this kind, I've used to date.  Its gorgeous, and so easy to work with when turning lined pieces inside out.  I edged the coat and skirt with faux beaver.  This was a longer fur, so the width would have to be thinner to allow the fluff of fur, and not overwhelm the costume.  This, again, is all hand-sewn on.  Two rows of gold buttons march down the front of the jacket that is closed by hooks and tiny thread loops.

I then made a collar of the faux beaver and lined it with the double-faced silk ribbon that ties the bonnet on.  This way, Mignonette can wear this coat without a collar, showing more buttons. 

Bonnet and Muff
The bonnet is lined in a darker cotton sateen.  I edged the face of the bonnet with the faux beaver and sewed a pretty bow atop.  I often look to Godey's for ideas, and this is where I found the design for the bonnet.  It does appear that girls would also wear brimmed hats when playing outdoors in winter, but I'd made this bonnet pattern earlier and somehow, it just seemed right.  Lastly I added a muff with a pretty pink bow, to keep her tiny hands warm when Mignonette wasn't steadying herself on the ice.

The Bonnet Lining
This costume is a basic lined coat and underdress, but it becomes a Sugar Plum, when all the details are added.  Pretty in pink, Mignonette catches the eye of everyone she merrily skates by!

Today, I'm going to start that New Year's costume that got passed by last December.  I haven't done anything for Daisy since April so I'm sure she'll be delighted to bring in the New Year on snowshoes.

Miss E. Mouse

Bonnet on child, fourth down from top.  Godey's.

Victorian Child in Pink

Another Godey's Winter Display of Fashion

Short jackets, trimmed in fur.

Pretty, but I'll bet she's cold!

Victorian Christmas Card

Mignonette's Day on the Ice


  1. You never, ever disappoint, my friend. Another beautiful creation - and too bad for me, my girls are looking over my shoulder. You should hear the pitiful sighs,. May I ask where you found a lightweight cotton velveteen? I am in need of some in a lighter weight for some Bleuette Christmas dresses. Thanks for all the beauty you share. Merry Christmas.

  2. Dear Nancy, Thank you! I believe I found this velveteen at Farmhouse Fabrics (online). They usually have a nice array of weights and colors. Merry Christmas to you, too!

  3. Dear Miss E. Mouse, This is the most beautiful outfit yet, I adore everything about it. The fur color is a wonderful choice for this pink velveteen, I love it all! There isn't anything you can't do in the sewing department for your dolls, lucky little girls! Merry Christmas, and have fun sewing for Daisy!

  4. As always, I am moving between awe and envy of your design and sewing skills! This is so very pretty and I can't begin to imagine how you make such perfect, tiny garments. My poor dolls are paupers next to your finely turned out children. Congratulations!
    Do you mind telling me who made your sweet little doll?

    One thing we do have in common is our love of winter weather. Oh for some snow! I love frost, snow and ice and, now turned 60, I'm not adverse to helping the local children to make a giant ice slide and playing on it with them too! Sadly, it is warm and wet here in Wales so far this year and all we can do is slosh around in mud.

  5. Dear Jenni, Wales is a bit like Auburn, CA currently. We are warm, wet and muddy here, too. Its the El Nino year. But, just one hour's drive up the road, there's snow in the higher elevations of the Sierras. Mignonette is a Wendy Lawton 9" doll - spring jointed wood body with porcelain hands and feet. Thank you for the lovely praise on her skating costume. It is so very much appreciated. Happy Christmas to you!

    1. Thank you Melisa! I shall be looking for a little Wendy Lawton doll one of these days. I need a little person to travel about with me, but she may well have to settle for knitted outfits unless I can home my small-scale sewing skills.
      Merry Christmas!