|Louis Antoine Godey|
I'd been studying the fashions of La Mode Illustree for quite some time, then started looking into Godey's Lady's Book illustations as well. The name The Godey Girl appealed to me, so I began looking for a doll that would represent the children in the illustrations from both publications.
Louis Godey was born to French immigrant parents in New York, 1804. His family was poor and he had no formal schooling, but he was self-educated. At age 15, he took a job as a newspaper boy in New York. Several years later, he moved to Philadelphia and became an editor for the Daily Chronicle. In 1830, he published the first edition of the Lady's Book, composed of reprinted articles and illustrations from French magazines. The publication was quite popular becoming America's highest circulated magazine in the 1840's reaching over 150,000 subscribers by 1858. It was the American counterpart to La Mode Illustree. When searching for the perfect name for my little muse, I chose Louise in honor of Louis Antoine. For her story, she becomes his niece.
As I began designing the patterns and slowing making (many) mock ups, I was searching for wigs for her. Her blue eyes had been replaced with hazel ones, and I wanted her to have auburn hair since she already had freckles. This style of hair you see in the bottom left hand corner of the hair fashions plate is the one I chose. Two French braids. It is also shown on the right bottom side of the page. Easy. Right? No. I must have bought six wigs before I settled on an auburn human hair wig, the same style Alice Illustrated wears. At least I could style it myself. Boy, was that a learning curve!
|Louise's French Braids|
Sewing for her would require a new set of patterns. Alice Liddel is 16". Alice Illustrated, and the "not forgotten" Delight of Fairytales, are 12" dolls, so I couldn't use their pattern pieces. I had exactly two yards of this silk taffeta that I bought at Britex two and a half years ago. It would prove one of the greater challenges of this project since every single edge of this costume has a binding cut from the bias. Add to this, each ruffle is also cut on the bias. By the time I was done with this outfit, I felt like I'd been in an E.M. Escher painting.
This outfit was far more complex than Alice Liddell's Botanical Garden Stroll. I did as much sitting, thinking and stewing over how to approach each piece, as I did sewing most of it by hand. The sheer measuring and cutting of all the bias bindings and ruffle lengths would send me off for many a break while I wrapped my head around what I was doing.
I began with the jacket. One of things I feel helps when I making something is understanding what it is. I know how silly that might sound, but this jacket did not have traditional lappets. Lappets are those "tongues" or rectangles that are sewn into the bottom edge of a jacket the way a peplum is. The shape of this jacket is like someone didn't want to bother with lappets and made them a part of the whole. Then decided to add tiny ruffles around all the edges, with bias binding. What was I thinking jumping into this project?! The challenge. Learning something new, of course. Determined to get this right, I made at least three mock ups of the jacket alone.
Since the jacket is shown only from behind, I had to "make up" how it would look in the front. I studied some of the other jackets in La Mode, and chose to decorate the front edges with 14 little antiqued brass buttons.
When it came to the skirt, I chose to make it in two, no, three pieces. There is the under-skirt with two bias ruffles edges in bias trim. They lay on top of the skirt as decoration. Click on the image of the outfit-only and study it for a few minutes and you'll discover some very interesting designs. The waistband on the skirt is a simple band giving way to the one the apron and attached bustle own. If you look carefully, you'll notice that the bustle overlaps the edges of the apron. I sewed these together on one side to hook on the other over the underskirt. Not wishing to be left out of the fuss, the waistband on this piece has its own bias bands at the skirt edge and one on the top of the waistband. Its a miracle I didn't go blind creating this.
At first, I'd sent away for white jacquard trim since this seems to be what they used down the front of the blouse and also on the "cuff" of the sleeve (edged then, in lace). Made up for a life size child, this would all be quite doable. Try it on a small doll? Time to improvise. This blouse is not a delicate batiste affair. Even the illustration imparts that information to you. So I chose a white silk dupioni and decorated it in French cotton laces. Four little pearls make the buttons down the front, and it fits very nicely, smoothly, under the jacket I have no name for.
I'd even bought Sylvia Mac Neil's book, Chiffonette, looking for the style name of this jacket. She has plenty of jackets with lappets, but even she wasn't crazy enough to try this. This book, by the way, can be purchased at Dollspart from my friend Barbara Froelich, and is just gorgeous.
I'm getting tired of writing, and I'm sure you're getting tired of reading this. So I'll wrap it up. Louise needed boots. I bought a few goat skin hides from my favorite Italian Ebay store Rolipel. I chose, for Louise's first garment, a mustard colored leather for her side button boots. It was called "Smooth Polished Mustard Beige". I had to make a pattern for these from the boots Mirette wears. These took a few tries as well, so when I got it into my head to make her real fingered gloves, I had to stop. We will do this another time, and I will make her a pair. After seeing what Sylvia did for Chiffonette, I'm convinced I can make this happen.
It has taken me nearly a month to make this costume, and it was only through sheer will and determination that is found completion. The next outfit I make for her...well, I'll try to find a less complicated design. I do think it would have been a bit easier to construct for a larger doll, but Louise is petite and she due to have as lovely a wardrobe as I have the patience for.
Please enjoy the following photos with details of this fussy, frilly, elaborate little costume.
One more note. Louise is holding a tiny valentine I made from one of Jean Nordquist's Make and Take kits. These little valentines are made for a 12" doll, so don't tell Louise.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Miss E. Mouse
|The Back of the Jacket Over the Bustle|
|No Name Jacket|
|All Lined and Bias Trimmed|
|Another View of the Boots|
|Happy Valentine's Day Louise!|