Friday, September 4, 2015

Mignonette The Gypsy Fortune Teller

Mignonette The Gypsy Fortune Teller

For some, like me, its never to early for Halloween, masquerade or dress up parties.  And, after Jolly Jane's Gypsy-O!, I just had to continue with a bit more gypsy fun.  Why I chose to dress Mignonette was primarily because I just adore costuming her and I wanted to see if I could pull off making one in pink.

I also became interested in the costuming itself.  Of course I don't think the gypsies themselves thought that they were in costume, but the folk dress from the countries they lived in intrigued me. 

In a multi-skirt.
First of all, from what I've read, the gypsies originated in India, and through persecution, traveled as far as Russia finding refuge.  The Russian gypsy skirt is detected by the long, less decorative one.  These flounce and full ruffled skirts were derived from Romania, or "Roma" gypsy.  These are the ones we see most since they are so colorful and lovely.  I would think though that the India influence has always been there with beading and embroidery, especially on the vests should they wear one.  It occurs to me as well that the skirts are not a far cry from Spanish influence with the Flamenco.  Which came first?  The chicken or the egg?

I also discovered an interesting theory as to why "gypsy" is often portrayed as sexy.  We must study the opera Carmen for this.   Carmen tells the story of the downfall of Don José, a naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery Gypsy, Carmen. José abandons his childhood sweetheart and deserts from his military duties, yet loses Carmen's love to the glamorous toreador Escamillo, after which José kills her in a jealous rage. The depictions of proletarian life, immorality and lawlessness, and the tragic death of the main character on stage, could translate easily into the wanton, sexy portrayal we see today.

Gypsy women contributed to the tribe in many forms, and one of them was by telling fortunes.  The exotic appeal and to their audiences, and the mysteries of unknown futures still holds today.  Why even Skipper (yes Skipper, Barbie's little sister), has her fortune read by a gypsy at a Halloween party at the beginning of the utterly charming book A Portrait of Skipper.  I was tickled to pieces to find this book as I've been on a vintage Skipper collecting sojourn this summer.

But, let's talk about little Mignonette and her fabulous pink gypsy costume!  It was through the research of gypsy costuming that I decided to try the multi-tiered skirt.  There was actually a tutorial in an Internet search that described the makings of one such skirt.  The amount of fabric needed to do this was extraordinary, and I hesitated as I knew it would overwhelm her 9" little body.  Still, I began with what I hoped would give me the outcome I was after.  This little costume, like her ice skating one, was completely of my own creativity.  I add that because I was recently told by someone that "they only do original work".  Hmmm...  Is working from a vintage paper doll or illustration not somewhat original?  Well, who cares?  As long as you're having fun.  Right?

The Back

I began with the vest.  That is, after I chose a variety of colored silks for the costume.  The aqua-gold of this silk lent itself nicely to more little hand-made sequins.  Why am I doing this?  Because the sequins you purchase have a hole in the middle and a depression in them.  When I make my own, I can size them to what I wish, and punch a tiny hole near the top so they dangle without a lot of thread showing from the center to where they attach in the fabric.  I made twenty-four for the vest. 

Waist scarf fringe and sequins.
The skirt has four tiers of gathered silk.  They fall from an aqua-gold "drop-waist" band.  The first, and it can't be seen in these photos, is the color of her head wrap.  The second a gold, third an orange, and finally a pink ruffle.  I'd intended a light aqua between the orange and final pink, but these little dolls don't allow for much elaboration in costuming.

As with many Lawton doll outfits, I attached the blouse to the skirt waist for a smooth look and ease of dressing.  I'm doing something new here, too.  I added elastic to the sleeve ends.  I'd recently made a tiny skirt for Skipper's tiny Barbie and used the sewn-in elastic method for the waist.  Feeling brave, I tried it on the sleeves of the blouse.  I used a 1/8" flat elastic, and it was not so easy to do.  I'm going to continue to practice this with certain blouses as I like the look.  This is perfectly fine for modern doll clothing, but it would not be appropriate for dressing antique dolls.

The waist scarf is a simple length of silk that I pulled threads from to create the fringe.  I finished the edges however, with

Long chain necklace and sequins.
a neat little twice-turn hem.  The head wrap was made much like Jolly Jane's without the added floral band.  I found a pair of "moon" earrings I'd purchased for an Evangeline Ghastly doll I have.  I never used them, so I removed the earring posts and stitched them from the head wrap.

Finally, we needed necklaces.  I tried stringing beads, but they overwhelmed the little doll.  So I took a long length of chain, gave it a lobster clasp on the ends, and wrapped it around her neck three times to give the graduating look of the lengths.

Mignonette is currently involved in the learning of the Tarot.  Two of her favorite cards are the Hermit (being me), and the Moon. 

I'm still in creative mode, and of course, may not let go of the costuming theme quite yet.  However, for now, with two gypsy costumes under my belt, its time to move on.  I think...maybe.

Miss E. Mouse

Let me tell you your fortune!

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