Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Little Ray of Sunshine

Spring is here.  Some days are sunny and warm, and others bring thundershowers and spring snow to the Sierras.  It is during this time of year that we all turn our faces to the blue skies and let the warmth of the sun toast our noses just a tiny bit.  Daffodils bloom.  Stalks of Iris in colors of purple, white and yellow tower in glory above the new blades of grass.  Even a yellow dandelion can be a joy to behold as spring turns to summer.  This year, yellow is my color.  I used to love orange, and still do, but yellow makes me happy.  Its a color full of energy and promise.

Yellow is also one of the hardest colors to find in beautiful fabrics.  I'm not talking about the ginghams and quilting cottons, but the fine silks and velvets I love to sew with.  I must have four or five yards of different hues and weights in yellow silks right now that I cannot use for Gay Event's Walking Outfit.  About three weeks ago I tried and purchased one more yard of yellow silk from Bangkok.  It takes about five to six weeks for yardage to arrive from Thailand, so I've been working on the accessories that go with Gay's costume. 

And, as you know, I've been once again swooning over Sue Shanahan's paper dolls from long ago.  Another she did for Wendy Lawton, was a poster paper doll that was framed, of Flora McFlimsey.  I once had this piece of art, but sold it since I didn't have a wall to hang it on.  I also used to have her Flora McFlimsey collection, which was a trunk with two day dresses, a night gown and cap, and a red cape and party gown.  I sold that, too.  Why?  Because I was stupid.  LOL  I didn't play with her because she was difficult to dress, and her clothing was nothing to get excited about.  My tastes had become more sophisticated, and I was more into the wood body dolls than porcelains. 

So there I am looking on Ebay (guilty as charged), and see Sue's framed poster of Flora McFlimsey and fall in love with her all over again.  Then someone lists one, and even though it is missing the cape and party gown, everything else is there.  Its "rescue time".  And, now I can sew for her.  Flora is an 11" all porcelain child doll with an incredibly cherubic face.  I always thought she needed more clothing than they gave her, especially in the colors of green and yellow.  Yellow!  This would round out the color wheel of her wardrobe to some extent, and prove what a Type A I truly am.

Her wardrobe was made by Boneka, I'm pretty sure.  I came to that assessment since Boneka was sewing for Lawtons in 1993, which was also when most of the porcelain dolls were being made.  However, the fabric choices were subdued in class, and if I was going to beef up her wardrobe, I'd need to follow suit with the styles.   I had a yard of this lovely Mary Rose cotton by Quilt Gate, and it would be the perfect beginning for rescued doll collection.

Wishing to stay true to design concept, and having to make this up on my own without an illustration to go by, I took measurements from the pink dress with the horrid Bertha collar (its just too big), and began drafting a pattern set to work from to make her yellow Mary Rose dress.  Boy, was this an eye opener!  Porcelain dolls have much heavier dimensions than the jointed wood body Lawtons.  As diminutive, at 11", as she is, the patterns are huge.  It took me three draftings and a definite mock up to design a "simple" dress that would fit her.   I also studied the structure of the pink dress and how it was put together.  One of the elements it boasts, is an under skirt with wide, gathered, 3" Swiss lace at the bottom to help keep the dress full.  The width of the skirt is 25", and twice this in Swiss lace is gathered and sewn to the hem.  I took this in another direction to make it unique, and allowed the lace I used to be part of the overall look by dropping it below the hemline decoratively.

The little shoes she's wearing were a pair I had bought at the factory sale long ago.  While they fit the doll, there was no corresponding dress for them, and I wasn't sewing at the time, so I simply kept them when I sold my first Flora.  I'd intended to make a dress with grey in it to go with the shoes, but yellow won out for Spring.  I will make one though eventually.

The dress is simple and could even be considered plain, but for me it was all about the color and floral rose pattern.  A hat!  A bonnet would be just the thing to round the costume out.  Flora can wear the Bleuette sized bonnets from the PNB hat mold company.  I have four styles of molds, and I chose the O43 for her.  I added two extra rows to give the bonnet more appeal on her bouncy ringlets, then added a bow to the back in the Mary Rose cotton of her dress. 

The dress is finished with three little yellow buttons and thread loops.  She is still a difficult doll to dress, harder to design for because of this, but I now have some basic pattern pieces to work from.  I think I'll really enjoy filling her trunk with a few more outfits.  She needs something in peach, and of course, something in grey, and green, too.  She'll need a new party gown and cloak as well.  I intend to make this collection "my own".

Working with yellow, or any bright color can cheer a cloudy day.  I cannot wait until the "hopeful" yellow silk taffeta arrives for Gay Event's outfit.  If it turns out to be unsuitable, I have some yellow cotton I can use.  I can't put this off much longer.  I have made first drafts of her Walking Outfit pattern, so my next step is to do the mock up.  Sewing centers me.  It distracts me from unhappy thoughts and is a wonderfully creative outlet.  Just thinking up new things to make motivates me along. 

I hope you're enjoying the early days of Spring and catching a few of those sunny rays on your own nose!

Miss E. Mouse

1 comment:

  1. Another lovely, cheery and inspiring post!
    Thank you.
    I also need to thank you for introducing me to the wonderful world of American paper dolls of days gone by. I'm working on my Connie Zink Polly Pratt's wardrobe properly now that I finally have a book of the Sheila Young drawings - such fun to do!