Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meet Jolly Jane - One of the "Little Busybodies"

Meet Jolly Jane and Polly from Polynesia
 "This one is Jolly Jane, who is six years old, and the third in the new series of paper dolls to cut out" - Frances Tipton Hunter. 

Remember Katy Curls?  That sweet little red head with all her fancy autumn play clothes?  May I introduce to you Jolly Jane.  She is another Frances Tipton Hunter paper doll I'm bringing to life.  She debuted in 1923 in the Woman's Home Companion.  Just like Katy, her outfits (only two this time), could be made by sending 10 cents or 16 cents into the publisher for patterns.

Polly likes sugar cubes.
Jolly Jane is a 14" doll made by Candy Anderson, just like Katy was.  She is on a reproduction Rosette body, and her sculpt is another delightful mold by Dianna Effner.  Jolly Jane wears a dark brunette, human hair wig that I curled and trimmed for her.  I used one of those clampless curling irons to give her bob a little bounce.  They work pretty well, but you must be careful not to burn your fingers when dressing shorter lengths.

Frances Tipton Hunter Paper Doll, 1923
Jolly Jane sat in a trunk for several months while I pondered over what style wig would most resemble the do that Frances drew for her.  I ended up with a Kimberly human hair by Monique.  I'm certain I will have to touch it up from time to time, but I did end up snipping off a good inch from the ends, and of course a bit from the bangs.  Its my impression that these wigs boast longer lengths, on all sides, for just this purpose.  To play!

Jolly Jane's Combination
I'm getting used to making under clothes now.  There was a time when I wouldn't bother, because they couldn't be seen, and they simply seemed pointless.  This is changing now with so many undressed dolls sitting on my shelves.  They look so much happier with a bit of modesty.  So I began, at the beginning, with Jolly Jane's combination (onesie).

My friend Betsy had given me the book The Dolls Dressmaker, by Venus A Dodge, and I recalled that there was a combination pattern within.  I knew I'd have to make adjustments in the body length and crotch, but I ended up creating my own pattern after all since her combination was sewn up with a seam in front and one in the back.  However, by beginning with the book's pattern, I was able to get a basic design started.  As it turned out, the pattern for Jolly Jane's combination is all one piece - rather in the style of a Mary Frances pattern.  Same era.  I also had to widen the pattern for the blouson effect and the gathers at the neckline.  The combination also has a little button belt in the back to cinch the waistline.

A smart little belted back.
Next I made her a pair of black leather shoes.  I omitted a bow or any kind of decoration on them as I just couldn't detect if there was any.  The highlights on the shoes can fool the eye, but I'm fairly certain they are simple Mary Janes.  Socks followed, and Jolly Jane was ready to be dressed. 

During this time, I contacted my good friend Patty Kascsak to needle felt me Jolly Jane's macaw, Polly from Polynesia.  Patty must have the patience of a saint since she made three before we got the perfect sized Polly for Jolly Jane.  This lady is simply an incredible artist, a true sweetheart, and I love her work.  Since I wanted to debut Jolly Jane with her parrot, there would be a waiting period while Patty worked with her needles and wool.  This was when I decided to make an outfit for Jolly Jane. 

Her Play-time dress.
While one of my favorites is her Gypsy-O! costume, I knew this would require a great deal of time, and it might be fun to make just prior to Halloween.  So I decided on her green play dress.  "Cross stitches but never a cross face, says Jolly Jane's mother when Jolly Jane pops into her play-time dress above."   Hmmm...I guess this would mean some embroidery work on my part! 

I began with a short sleeved blouse with a turned up cuff in the only celery green fabric I had.  This was some of that lovely Kaufman's Cotton Silk that I had among my ever growing fabric stash.  While I might have preferred a plain cotton batiste, finding one in exactly this color was not going to happen.  And, I also seemed set on using this luscious, olive cotton velveteen for the jumper.  So we have a very fancy, if not elegant, little play-time dress for Jolly Jane.  Both pieces were not too difficult to design, although I did fret a bit that the blouse might be too shiny. 

Cross-stitches, but not cross faces.
The blouse is lined on the inside from neckline to hem, and the sleeves were set into this.  There is one button on the back of the neckline fastened with a thread loop.  The jumper is fully lined in the cotton silk fabric so no hand hemming needed to be done.  Both pieces were pretty straight forward, and this was a plus since I had to spend time embroidering cross stitches.  Jolly Jane's mother would not have approved of my cross face in doing them.  Sadly, embroidery doesn't seem to be my thing.  I know it takes practice and the cross-stitch is one of the easiest to accomplish, but there was a lot of pulling out of thread and do-overs in the process.  For one, I was free-handing the stitches, and two, they were on velvet.  Double trouble for a novice embroiderer.  Still and all, the job got done and it does look rather festive.  A little pimento with the olive!

The back.
Of course Jolly Jane needed her little dolly to go with the outfit.  I happened to have one of Nada Christensen's mini Bleuettes on hand and she proved the perfect little doll for Jolly Jane.  I also had some lovely auburn mohair, so I spent an hour and a half (yes), wigging this little doll.  I then proceeded to draft a tiny pattern for her dress.

The dress is completely hand sewn from a light yellow cotton.  She also wears little yellow socks and black Mary Jane's like her mommy's.  Just when I thought the cross-stitching was over, I noticed that Dolly's dress had green cross-stitching on the edges!  Trying to determine a proper size stitch that would show up, but not overwhelm took a couple of efforts.  I also discovered that using one thread instead of two works better on tiny dresses.  I'll probably never have to do this again, but it was valuable experience.

Jolly Jane's Dolly and Polly
Jolly Jane was now ready to debut.  Her little parrot arrived today and I was overjoyed.  Patty's work is stunning!  I'd been fretting over Polly's bird perch since deciding to make this set.  During the construction of Jolly Jane's first outfit, I spent a great deal of time puzzling over how to make it.  I'm afraid the hoop will be impossible to recreate, but I have a pretty good idea how to make something similar for displaying Jolly Jane's pet.  In the meantime, I ad-libbed and used the base of an Integrity doll stand, and a hand-made wooden T-bar, painted green, for Polly's perch.

Even dolly gets cross-stitches.
I think I'm really going to enjoy creating the wardrobe from this darling paper doll page.  I've been collecting fabrics for it since January and the only outfit left to find suitable cloth for is her sweater and skirt - where she's blowing bubbles.  I've ideas, but all in good time.  I even have a basket ball ready for her.  The accessories, sometimes, are the best parts! 

Enjoy this little cutie and I hope you'll look forward to her next little outfit.

Miss E. Mouse  

Close up of Patty's Macaw.
Just beautiful work!
Jolly Jane is one Little Busybody!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Alice Illustrated - Queen Alice, Through the Looking Glass

Queen Alice
"The Eighth Square at last!", she cried as she bounded across, and threw herself down to rest on a lawn as soft as the moss, with little flower-beds dotted about it here and there.  "Oh, how glad I am to get here!  And, what is this on my head?' she exclaimed in a tone of dismay, as she put her hands up to something very heavy, that fit tight all around her head.  And, with this final step across the fields of a chess board, Alice becomes the queen.

Tenniel's Through the Looking Glass
When we begin a search for Alice in images, we are generally seeing her illustrated from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.  From time to time we'll see her dressed in Tenniel's blue dress with the apron trimmed in red, wearing the striped stockings.  But...and maybe this is just me...I've never seen her dressed in Tenniel's Queen Alice.  I have seen versions of Queen Alice in all white.  Wendy Lawton did one for her 9" book Alice, and Robin Woods did a white one with gold and red crown from one of her very early Alice trunk sets.  But, never the blue, red and gold Queen Alice from Tenniel's Alice Through the Looking Glass.

The Illustration
It has long been a costume I desired to try, and my original intent was to create it for my Wendy Lawton 16" convention Alice.  I still may.  In fact I must, but Alice Illustrated became my first little muse for this costume. 

In the same blue silk as I made her first dress, the traditional Through the Looking Glass costume, I would be working once again with the 1860's French Fashion style of paniers and ruffles (see Louise Godey).  I am always surprised when I begin working on a new pattern to discover that I made something similar before.  Each costume to me has a life of its own, but its wonderful to have had a little bit of practice beforehand.

A side view for Tenniel
Alice Illustrated's Queen Alice gown is a festive costume in the colors of a traditional playing card.  When contemplating the "gold" of this costume, I bought several gold lames to work with.  I don't know if you've ever worked with lame (especially stretch lyca lame), but its a nuisance.  Almost as bad a deep plush velvet.  I tried using a jeans needle to sew through it.  I even changed the stitch length, and it was a beast.  While I contemplated the woes of using this stuff, I realized that the color in the illustration was really yellow.  And, here we can talk about the brain and the artist's eye; what we know to be true, and what we actually see! 

This almost looks Civil War military to me!
I'd already made the pleated trim from a yellow cotton sateen (couldn't find this color in silk), and was making the little boots out of stretch lame.  I sat there and looked again, and once again, and said "What am I doing?!  These will not match."  So I ditched the lame and happily continued work with the yellow sateen. 

The boots
Since I'd made the trim first, and was waiting for the third lame to show up, I began work on the crown, the boots and the scepter.  The boots came first in yellow sateen since I'd already make a pair of stretch lame ones and had the perfect pattern made.  I realized while I was stitching these up that Franklin Mint had made the same type of cloth boots for their Guinevere.  I was much relieved to know I was on the right track. 

The crown is a soft sculpture with a buckram base.  The center is a rich, lush velvet in crimson, and the "fur" band is actually baby blanket material.  I have white faux fur, but it was too furry.  This soft blanket fabric was perfect for the look. 

The scepter is made from wood.  Once again I thank myself for the years I spent working in wood.  The fleur de lis was cut out on my scroll saw, but the staff is all wood dowels.  To make the bumps on the staff, I cut cookies from a larger dowel, then drilled a 1/8" hole in the center (donuts), and slipped them onto the staff, then glued them in place.  There are no wood beads that will accommodate this process unless you're maybe making a larger staff.  Much sanding and carving with a knife was done to create the smooth finishes of the scepter.  Its a wonderful accessory to this costume.
The chess piece crown
And finally I began work on the dress.  If you'll notice the white ruffle on Tenniel's sleeve, it is drawn with a sharp points.  I'd noticed in months back that Sylvia Mac Neil used pinking sheers on some of Chiffonette dress edges.  So I followed suit and made the trim of white silk on the bias with pinked edges.  The two sizes of pleated trim came from the same length.  It was by accident that this happened.  A lucky accident.  The trim was too wide, so I cut 1/4" off it, and this, I noticed, was the perfect size for the trim around the top of the hem ruffle and the sleeve edges. 

The Scepter
The paniers gave me the fits this time.  Why were they so logical, intuitive, on Louise Godey's and not here?  I think it was in part due to Tenniel's romantic illustration of the draping on the back one.  I tried four times and could not achieve his look.  If I'm correct, the original paniers may have been ruched by a drawstring.  If anyone knows, I'd like to be enlightened.  Regardless, on this small doll's costume, the gathers that should have achieved this look did not.  Still and all, with the trim attached, I'm pleased with the overall outcome.

The Back
The sleeves, themselves, are a bit different from your standard puff.  In order to achieve the look of the illustration, I pleated them, then ease-gathered them.  It was a bit like making a little origami box.  The detail may be hard to detect, but its there.

Alice does not wear stockings in the illustration, so none were made.  This was just as well since the cloth boots would have been difficult to snug over her feet with stockings. 

Finally, a pearl necklace was fashioned for her.  A 2" red scarlet silk ribbon was used for the tie about her waist.

Alice Illustrated's Queen Alice costume was an entirely satisfying challenge.  Like many of the costumes I try, these are things made of my own dreams coming true.  I'll have to admit that I much prefer making costumes, rather than serious day garments for my dolls.  They're whimsical, colorful and enchanting to display.

I don't know what I'll do next.  Once again I have many options and ideas on the table, but for just a little while, I think I'll enjoy my book and the warm spring weather the patio is offering.  At least for a day or two!

Enjoy this beautiful May.  Long live the Queen (Alice)!

Miss E. Mouse 

A colorized version by some artist.

The marvelous chess board landscape.

A BJD Steampunk Version.  I like it!

Long live the Queen!